In life, it’s always important for one to stay true to his or her roots and be proud of the people that have helped make one who he or she is today.
With five World Series titles and a litany of tradition dating back to 1881, the oldest professional baseball organization in North America has always been adored and revered by its following — especially in the full-of-history and baseball-crazed county that is Scioto.
So, as per the norm, the Cincinnati Reds only feel that it is appropriate to give back to the very fans who have helped make the organization today.
On Thursday afternoon, eight members of the Reds’ organization, as part of the Reds Caravan’s East Tour, stopped by the central location of WNXT Radio to meet and greet not only a few of the radio personalities, but discuss baseball with the locals in attendance.
For Bryan Price, who will be entering his fifth season with the team as its manager and its ninth overall, making visits like these aren’t ones that the Reds thumb their noses at. In fact, engaging with fans and community leaders are occasions that the organization welcomes.
“It creates an accessibility to the players, the staff, and the alumni,” Price said. “It’s important. In our part of the caravan, we have Buddy Bell and Tom Browning, who are two iconic Reds figures, and we have a lot of those on our trip. We bring a lot of our young prospects, such as (Nick) Senzel, (Cody) Reed, and (Sal) Romano. It’s really about the overall connectivity and realizing that the (fans) are just really good people who want to be not only proud of the performance, but the type of people that are representing Reds Country. We’ve got a lot of good ones.”
Much of that young talent in the Reds organization was present in Portsmouth on Thursday evening, including Senzel, the Reds’ top overall prospect and the No. 7 overall prospect in all of baseball according to Baseball America, and Romano and Reed, who are right-hand and left-hand throwing gunslingers that are only 24 years of age and have already seen time in the major leagues.
Patrick Riehl, who is now with Class A-advanced Daytona and hails from Valley — where he starred as a prep — was also in attendance as a special treat to the local individuals who showed up on Thursday. They are part of a growing nucleus of younger talent that Price — who fielded the third-youngest team in all of baseball last season — is looking to build around as Cincinnati attempts to make its ascent up the National League ladder with the talented core that is in place.
“I look at guys like (Jose) Peraza, (Eugenio) Suarez, (Adam) Duvall, and (Scott) Schelber, who are guys that have been up in the major leagues for parts of a year or two and are starting to flourish,” Price said. “Tucker Barnhart could’ve won a Gold Glove. Peraza could’ve won a Gold Glove. Duvall and (Billy) Hamilton should’ve won Gold Gloves. Those are the type of young guys that we’re talking about that are up here and playing well. When you add guys like Senzel, Romano, Reed, (Robert) Stephenson, and Jesse Winker to that mix, those are players that are going to impact us in a really positive way and allows us to start talking seriously about getting to the top of the division again.”
The question that most fans are dying to know, however, is exactly how soon that will happen.
“We’re not going to have to wait until 2025 to see a good ballclub,” Price said. “I do think that the guys play hard. We’re a fun ballclub to watch, and I don’t believe we’re an easy team to play against. Now, it needs to show up in the win column, and we need to get ourselves back up on top of the division.”
While Scioto County — as with the many additional counties who are mainly pro-Cincinnati in the Tri-State Area — is dying to see the Reds’ return to plus-.500 baseball for the first time since 2013, most of the people in attendance on Thursday evening were just thrilled to meet a small portion of the important cast of characters that represent not only the Reds’ present, but its future.
“Everyone has been great,” Price said. “You’ve got an entire hallway full of food (courtesy of the Scioto Ribber and 83 Sweets). That’s always a great start. Everybody’s all the same. The beautiful part of this is that we’ve got a lot of down-to-earth people. You don’t have a lot of divas. You’ve got people that are in touch with reality. We’re all mortal. It’s nice just to come in here, shake hands, and answer questions about the team, because we’re all baseball fans too.”
And make no mistake about it — Price and company understand the importance of staying true to the roots of where it all began.
“The roots run deep here in Reds Country,” Price said. “This is the oldest franchise in professional baseball, and that shouldn’t be unknown to anybody.”
In addition to Price, Reed, Riehl, Romano, and Sensel, Cincinnati Reds’ Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Browning, who threw a perfect game against the Los Angeles Dodgers back on Sept. 16, 1988, Buddy Bell, who played third base for the Reds and currently serves as the vice president and senior assistant to the general manager, and Jeff Piecoro, who serves as a broadcaster for the Reds’ organization on Fox Sports Ohio, were all in attendance.
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @KColleyPDT