Even in these dark days. it’s important for us to focus on what the Reds do have to offer– if even in the form of their opponents. My mother completely overawed my godson when she told him that she’d once seen Jackie Robinson at Crosley Field, and I chances are excellent that my grandfather saw the likes Ernie Lombardi and Joe Nuxhall. My father saw the core lineup of the Big Red Machine. And stories like this, Phil, is why it’s so very difficult for us to simply go somewhere else.
As Joey Votto continues to pass his nightmare of a season by hiding bobbleheads in Instagram-friendly places, I know that he’s the one the next generation will want to hear about. Did you see him hit a home run, Aunt Beth? Did you see him up close? What was he like?
I have plenty of time to think of good answers, as Votto’s tale isn’t over yet, but I must think back a bit to think of the others. Among them:
Sean Casey: In his latter years, his status as a growing social media star begins to eclipse his prowess as an All Star. He could be the next Tony Romo, only without the girlfriend baggage. Perhaps it was always meant to be thus.
The Nasty Boys: If only to attest that there was indeed a time in which bring the Reds bullpen into the game did not mean an automatic loss.
Johnny Bench: The Big Red Machine was long past, but he hung on. A gift to be able to say that the beginning of my baseball consciousness coincided with his presence behind the plate.
Jose Rijo: They might not ask about him, but I’ll tell them anyway. Strong. Dependable. Underrated.
Pete Rose: They’ll ask, and all I will say is this man presented an example of how to not represent oneself, one’s team, and one’s city.
Marty and Joe: Their voices will echo beyond thier own lives. I heard them not as legends, but the day-to-day voices of home.
On the other hand, I wish I’d seen–and asked my grandparents more about:
Ernie Lombardi: The Bench before Bench. If we didn’t have the actual Bench, we’d hear much more about him.
Wally Post: Not a marquee names, but fully entangled in the daily history of the team. The king of the suits.
Ted Klusezewski: Another name not known nearly widely enough. He was famous for his hitting, but my fellow Reds Hall of Fame and Museum employees were always eager to tell of his gentle nature and indispensable role as the hitting coach of the Big Red Machine.
Chuck Harmon: Integration of America’s oldest team should have happened much sooner, but when it finally did arrive, I would have liked to have been present for such an event.
Ruth Lyons: Not a Red, but she might as well have been one. She saved the team by helping to found the Rosie Reds and once doing her best to stuff the All-Star ballot box on their behalves.
Now you tell me: Who have you seen, and not seen?