HAMILTON — Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell was glad to be back on the road again.
The 2023 Cincinnati Reds Caravan made its first stop Monday night at Spooky Nook Sports at Champion Mill after the event had been on a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I don’t think we realized how much we missed it until we got out today,” Bell addressed to over 500 in attendance. “It’s great going to visit places we don’t typically visit and meet people who are Reds fans — and try to get more people to be Reds fans.”
Those smiling Reds fans of all ages were given the opportunity to connect and interact with Bell, along with major league infielder Jose Barrero, minor league outfielder Austin Hendrick, former catcher Corky Miller, Reds on Radio broadcaster Jeff Brantley and Reds/Bally Sports Ohio broadcaster Brian Giesenschlag.
Rosie Red even made her rounds.
“It’s pretty unique,” Bell said. “I’ve been with other organizations and not many teams have anything like this. It’s just a great opportunity to get out and meet people.
A question session preceded the autograph portion of the event, and fans asked questions about the pitch clock, injury updates and favorite baseball movies and players.
One youngster even asked what their favorite pizza toppings were.
“All the meats,” Brantley joked.
Hamilton residents Roger Fields and Hunter Nichols said it was their first time attending an event of this nature.
“This up close and personal experience of being around these guys is neat,” Fields said. “It’s a great thing for them to come right here in Hamilton and do something like this.”
Alex and Kaitlyn Wallace, of Hamilton, brought their daughters Kassidy and Gracyn to enjoy the festivities.
“The Reds do a good job with this,” Alex Wallace said. “The Reds Caravan allows it to be a closer, fan-oriented experience. It makes it fun, especially when you have your kids with you.”
Alex Wallace said having the Reds Caravan at Spooky Nook is just a precursor to the many other events that will be coming to the sports complex in the future.
“This venue is even more important,” he said. “This just gives us a glimpse of what else we’re going to be able to do on a weekend basis and with kids and youth sports here.”
Mayor Pat Moeller said having the caravan back in Hamilton and at Spooky Nook is important to the city. The event was previously held at Miami University Hamilton’s Parrish Auditorium.
“It’s a huge deal,” Moeller said. “Not just because Joe Nuxhall was from here. But it’s a huge reason why this is a big deal because it shows respect and love for Joe Nuxhall and his family.
“Hamilton has a huge fanbase for the Reds,” Moeller added. “Our town loves baseball. So when you get a chance to hear the manager, hear a player on the roster, hear the young man from Dayton and the announcers talk baseball, and to be able to get in line and get their autograph — that’s a big thing around here.”
The Reds Caravan will travel more than 2,500 miles and make 10 stops over a six-day course throughout Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and West Virginia.
“It’s great to be here in this facility,” Bell said of Spooky Nook. “I’m trying to comprehend the size, and it’s just incredible what’s been built here. I’m really happy for the community.
“We know that this is a big part of the community. We know that a lot of good baseball has come out of here. So being here is special.”
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