David and I were riding down the street the other day when we stopped at a red light. It was finally a warm spring day and we had the car windows rolled down. It was fun to listen to the sounds of the city. Lawn mowers buzzing, children playing, radios blaring, car engines idling, sirens in the distance, birds chirping, dogs barking and people’s voices.
Right next to us, two men were having an animated conversation. One elderly man with excitement in his voice and eyes was leaning on his building while he shared statistics and facts to another man standing in the street leaning on his trunk. They were talking about the Cincinnati Reds.
I love how the Cincinnati Reds bonds this city together. Whether or not you like baseball, there is an energy that is brought to the city with the first crack of the bat on opening day. The city practically shuts down on opening day with a parade and parties. Flags fly, jerseys are proudly worn, upscale women’s boutiques mix and match stylish red outfits in their display windows, radios are tuned to the voice of Marty Brennaman announcing the game, and strangers engage in laughter and smiles all over our city’s beloved Reds.
Cincinnati does a fantastic job making a family outing relatively cheap with decent five-dollar seats with a view you can’t beat – overlooking the Ohio River. The Reds Heads program for children 14 and under can’t be beat. For $25 a child receives a hat, dog tags, a jersey, a backpack, special prizes, four game tickets, and special promotion events like autograph signing, pre-game parades and running the bases. This is smart fan-base building. Bring them in young, make them feel special and a part of the team – you have fans for life.
We love the Reds. It’s not just the cooler packed full of game snacks (yes you can bring your own food) or the line for $1 hot dogs, we love game food! We even chuckle at the outcome when Caleb attends the game without Mom and Dad is in charge. Caleb sneaks into the snack bag one too many times and he always ends the night tossing his cookies – literally. I can’t complain – David follows through on clean-up. It’s not just the roar of the fans, the entire stadium standing to participate in the wave, the kiss cam, the smell of popcorn and cotton candy in the air, the cool breeze blowing off the Ohio River, the ball soaring out past left field for a home run – it is the camaraderie.
It is the bond of rooting for the same team. It is the sense of belonging to something bigger than ourselves and it is big – The Big Red Machine. Anywhere you go in the city, you will most likely overhear a conversation about the Reds. And feel free to join in the bantering and add your two cents. The human connection of walking away from a complete stranger feeling a bond – it may be a very superficial one, but it is still a connection outside of our busy lives.
On game day, life slows down a bit. Even when you are walking downtown to your car caught up in a sea of red and white jerseys listening to the street drums on the corner, you breathe a little deeper, smile a little more. There is a fever, an excitement in the air. It is no longer my team or your team – we are unified by our team and we can’t wait until the next time to “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”