CINCINNATI — Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor watched the Cincinnati Reds take infield and batting practice with his two sons in front of the dugout at Great American Ball Park on Tuesday. Like any other dad, he took photos of his kids with the field in the background.
Taylor then met Reds manager David Bell for the first time hours before first pitch on Opening Day. Bell said they had come close to meeting several times but had never connected.
The Bengals had a big role in the pregame festivities Tuesday with quarterback Joe Burrow throwing the ceremonial first pitch to Bell and wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year, presenting the National League Rookie of the Year award to Jonathan India.
Bell was happy to share the field with the Reds’ neighbors, who won the AFC championship in January for the first time since 1988.
“One of the things we talked about as a team was playing in a way that inspires other people,” Bell said, “and I think (the Bengals) pretty much nailed that this year. They set a great example of what that’s all about. I know I was inspired, and it seems like the entire city was.”
Mic’ed up experience: Five days after doing a live TV interview while playing first base, Reds first baseman Joey Votto talked about how he handled the multi-tasking.
“It was very hard,” Votto said. “It was really, really hard. It was very, very challenging. But it was a good experience, and it was the right day to do it.”
The interview happened Thursday when the Reds played the Atlanta Braves in the season opener. Votto didn’t sound open to doing it again anytime soon.
“We get paid to play ball,” he said. “We don’t get paid to do in-game interviews. It was pretty harmless with no plays coming my way. It was good content, but there are going to be times where a player has balls come at them or is hitting or something and they have to do their jobs.”
Normal Opening Day: The Reds had no fans on Opening Day in 2020 and no fans at all in that 60-game season because of the pandemic. There was limited attendance on Opening Day in 2021. It was a different story Tuesday, though it was also not the season opener. The Reds opened the season on the road for the first time since 1990.
“It still feels just like a Reds Opening Day,” Bell said. “Driving in today, seeing other people dressed up in Reds gear, it gives me chills. It’s actually a little bit better. We get a few games under our belt and feel good about the way we’re playing, and then we get to come home and spend a special day with the energy of our fans in the city. Being from here, this is something that you just never get tired of. It’s exciting. The thought I had today as I walked in is this is great that it’s Opening Day, and I think it’s the best environment in all of baseball for Opening Day, but all I can think about is having more days like this the rest of the year. That’s the goal.”