CINCINNATI, Ohio — The Cincinnati Reds organization celebrated a long standing tradition with the City of Portsmouth Sunday afternoon, as they held Portsmouth Day at Great American Ball Park. As is the custom between the Reds and Portsmouth, the first Sunday home game of the season was reserved to celebrate one of the biggest supporting communities in all of Reds Country, Portsmouth.
The Portsmouth community was well represented Sunday. A brief preview of a new Shane Runion Band song was played on the jumbo screen, which celebrated the positives of the Portsmouth community. Several locations of the city were displayed in the video, and showed a lot of the positive work going on in the area.
The video will also be presented as Portsmouth looks to advance to the final round of the America’s Best Communities contest.
The Director of the Southern Ohio Port Authority, Jason Kester, threw out the first pitch, while Portsmouth City Manager, Derek Allen caught Kester’s throw at home plate.
“I got a little nervous when I started to walk out to the mound,” Kester said. “I tried not to look up and look at the crowd, and just focus on throwing the pitch so I wouldn’t bounce it. That was really the key, to not bounce it.”
Kester had a successful throw to Allen, who had no trouble catching the ball.
“Derek was able to catch it,” Kester said. “We didn’t get much practice as we had hoped, because the weather has been a little rough the last several weeks.”
Kester and Allen were able to get in a brief throwing practice shortly before going out onto the field Sunday afternoon.
“We threw for about five minutes in the tunnel,” Kester said. “So that was good, because the first time that I threw to Derek (Allen) in the tunnel, I threw way low and outside.”
Allen was excited to have an opportunity to represent the Portsmouth area Sunday afternoon during Portsmouth Day.
“It was exciting,” Allen said. “It’s a much different atmosphere than even I had anticipated. To walk out on a field that is perfectly manicured, I was a little nervous, but Jason (Kester) threw a perfect pitch and I enjoy more, now that it’s over with, than before.”
While Allen admitted he was nervous during the ceremonial first pitch, he also acknowledged he did try to enjoy the moment as much as possible.
“You don’t often get to do something in front of 25,000 people,” Allen said.
The Portsmouth area was also well-represented by the vocal talents of Portsmouth Junior High School eighth grader, Alainnah Scott, who performed The Star Spangled Banner.
Scott stood at home plate to deliver the national anthem before a capacity crowd at the ball park. As Scott reached the last line in Francis Scott Key’s description of the British bombardment of Fort McHenry, the crowd began to sing aloud and then cheered in thunderous ovation as Scott hit the last note.
Director of Main Street Portsmouth, Joseph Pratt, and Adam Phillips, Asset and Site Development Manager with Southern Ohio Port Authority, were also on-hand to help represent the Portsmouth community. The duo held a banner behind home plate, which showcased Portsmouth in the America’s Best Communities contest during Kester’s ceremonial first pitch.
“The America’s Best Communities competition has brought out a lot of local hometown pride, which is evident at today’s game,” Pratt said. “We’re seeing a lot of locals here to celebrate Portsmouth, and all the growth we’ve done recently.”
“This is just a great way to celebrate the recent accomplishments of the America’s Best Communities, and our place in that contest,” Phillips said. “This is such a special day to see the community out here and really supporting, not just our community, but really all of Reds Country, all of the State of Ohio, really backing us right now, and we’re really feeling that right now.”
Kester said it was really important to get the America’s Best Community competition mentioned during the game.
“We had the video up and it showcased some of the positive stuff going on in Portsmouth,” Kester said. “That’s the real big push right now, because we’re a couple weeks out from finding out whether or not we move to the finals.
“Showcasing the positive stuff going on and what we’re doing is a really big component of the day, and we’re really thankful to the Reds for playing that video.”
Reach Michael Hamilton at 740-353-3101, ext 1931, or on Twitter @MikeHamilton82.