Tonight, the Reds Northern Tour caravan made its first public stop in Athens, Ohio. Here is the report filed by Redleg Nation member Alex Beurket.

“I arrived at “the Market on State” where the caravan was stopping a half hour before it was scheduled to begin, which I figured was enough time to get a decent spot. It turns out there was already over 200 people in line. Before it started a guy helping direct the caravan placed an “End of Line” sign about 50 people in front of me but I was determined to wait it out.

Redleg Nation member with DatDudeBP in Athens, OH

Redleg Nation member Alex Beurket with DatDudeBP in Athens, OH

The crew of Reds arrived and came to the stage where Marty was given the microphone and the job of introducing everyone, which he did very well. In his typical old-man sarcastic self he made sure to add a few jabs at the end about Phillips saying that he “had women’s shoes on.”

During the Q&A section Brandon got most of the questions from the younger audience and Benzinger got a handful from older fans. Two particular amusing questions Brandon got were (1) if he would be hitting the bars tonight in Athens, which he replied he would and for anyone to come up to talk to him, and (2) what he said to Yadier Molina before he tapped his shin-guard which led to the brawl vs. the Cardinals two years ago, which he didn’t say because he wanted to “keep it PG for the kids”. Both questions got a lot of laughter from the fans.

One of the most interesting questions was to Assistant GM Bob Miller about Aroldis Chapman’s role for the club this year. He said that “last spring training Chapman was our best pitcher and if he performs like last year we believe he will be one of the best starting pitchers in the MLB”. Which to me was great to hear further reassurance that Chapman will be in the rotation barring anything bizarre happening.

After about 20 minutes of Q & A they began autographs. Luckily the “End of Line” sign got pushed back so that it was now only 10 people in front of me, and eventually got moved back past me and finally towards the very back. After roughly 45 minutes of autographing Brandon got out of his seat and starting walking down the line while signing, giving handshakes, and allowing for pictures to be taken. It’s nice to see how much he really enjoys the fan interaction and appreciation that Reds Country has for him and this team. I ended up getting one of my new hats (last years American flag themed one) autographed by him along with getting a handshake and a picture.

Overall it was a great experience that only got me more excited for spring training to begin and the Reds to be back in action. To anyone that is near the upcoming stops, I highly recommend attending and showing your love for the Reds.”

-Alex Beurket