Over the course of the past decade, finding ways to educate oneself about the game of baseball hasn’t come as a hard task to those who live in the Portsmouth area.
And a further education in the sport will be offered to interested parties on Tuesday evening, when former Cincinnati Reds hand and Bellevue, Kentucky resident Tracy Jones — who played two full seasons with the Reds and part of a third year with Cincinnati before being traded to what was then known as the Montreal Expos’ organization — speaks at Buffalo Wild Wings from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday evening as part of the Portsmouth Chapter in conjunction with the Cincinnati Reds’ Hall of Fame.
For Mark Trapp, the event serves as an exciting way for the community to learn additional notes from another individual who has performed at the highest of levels.
“I wanted somebody different that we haven’t had here, from the Portsmouth Murals banquet, the Reds Caravan, or any other event that the Reds have been a part of in the Tri-State Area,” Trapp said. “With the more individuals that you get to see and talk to, the more you get to understand the different paths and experiences that each individual went through on his way to the Major Leagues.”
Jones, who, according to Baseball Reference, is a lifetime .273 hitter, played for the Reds, the Expos, the San Francisco Giants, the Detroit Tigers, and the Seattle Mariners over his six-year career, which ended following the 1991 season.
From 2008 to 2017, Jones, according to a Cincinnati.com story written by Dave Clark, worked for WLW-AM Radio in the Cincinnati area as part of a radio show that was titled “Eddie and Tracy,” with Jones co-hosting the show alongside fellow radio personality Eddie Fingers to a successful degree before being laid off in Sept. 2017. Jones, according to another article titled “Tracy Jones: Behind the Mic,” owns his own insurance agency, which is titled as Tracy Jones Financial, and still does a daily feature with famed Reds announcer Marty Brennaman, which is titled “Brennaman and Jones on Baseball.”
As a major leaguer, Jones, after getting picked first overall by the Reds in what was the secondary phase of the Major League Draft in 1983, had his best seasons with Cincinnati, hitting .349 with two home runs, 10 RBI, and an .860 on-base-plus-slugging mark over a 49-game slate in 1986 and notching career highs in home runs (10), RBI (44), stolen bases (31), doubles (17), triples (three), runs scored (53) and total bases (157), all according to Baseball Reference.
“Tracy’s going to do a phenomenal job,” Trapp said. “The relationship that he had with the Reds and with WLW is going to allow him to really connect with the fans. He’s really going to be able to get into more detail on some of the additional Major League players and organizations around the United States and Canada. As for Tom, he did a fantastic job. Tom’s a fan-favorite in his own right.”
Jones, however, is just the latest in a long line of former greats that have spoken in Portsmouth. In addition to the wonderful knowledge that Gene Bennett provided and Al Oliver continues to provide to the citizens in the Tri-State Area, additional greats such as Johnnie LeMaster, Buddy Bell, and Tom Browning have all made the trek, whether it be short or long, to Portsmouth to speak to interested folks. Browning, in fact, spoke on behalf of the Portsmouth Chapter last November and spoke at the Portsmouth Murals Banquet back in 2016 as well.
“A lot of people like hearing their stories,” Trapp said. “They like hearing their stories from behind the scenes, such as what happens in the clubhouse, and what this person or that person did in this particular situation. The stories that we get to hear about what it takes to be a major leaguer are fantastic.”
Portsmouth, however, has a unique place in baseball history.
The area has, after all, produced greats like Bennett, Oliver, Branch Rickey, Larry Hisle, Gene Tenace, Don Gullett, Josh Newman, and John Stephenson in a small area from South Shore to Stockdale — and that’s not even getting into Adams County in Ohio, Boyd County in Kentucky, or various additional counties that are a part of the Tri-State Area.
So it’s only fitting that Portsmouth is only one of 15 areas across a four-state radius (Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia) that holds a chapter as part of the Cincinnati Reds’ Hall of Fame and Museum. When one lowers that list to just the Ohio areas only, the famed baseball town is one of only 10 to hold such a distinction.
This allows the Portsmouth Chapter to obtain exclusive, private, after-hours use of the Hall of Fame for an event, and five autographed items that are signed by select Reds Hall of Fame members, which are given in order to help Portsmouth raise additional funds and obtain new members, according to the Cincinnati Reds’ Hall of Fame and Museum website. More plans by the chapter itself, including a trip to see a Louisville Bats’ game, the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., and the holding of a vintage baseball game in Portsmouth, are all in the works.
“Having the chapter here in Portsmouth gives us a lot of opportunities to bring in guest speakers like a Tom Browning or a Tracy Jones,” Trapp said. “We’re also working on a two-year process to bring in Marty Brennaman. We’re trying to do that, and we’re on the books for that, so we certainly want to provide a positive experience for the whole family.”
Fees for current Hall of Fame members to attend the event are $10 a person, while non-members will pay $25. The fees, however, include an autograph. Additional autographs are $10 each. The chapter will also be auctioning off a signed baseball by former Reds pitcher Danny Graves and a signed Pete Rose Frame that was painted by Cincinnati artist Chris Felix, and will have bobble heads, along with signed 8-by-10 frames available for purchase at the event. Food can be ordered off the menu off at its own cost.
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @KColleyPDT