Spring Training Diary #3

We arrived at the complex just a little after ten. It was an absolutely beautiful day. Seeing the green grass and hearing the crack of the bat is good for your mind, body and soul. While walking along the outfield fence, my wife said hello to one of our favorites, Matt Maloney. Maloney exchanged pleasantries with us and provided the kids with their first baseball of the day.

The adult autograph seekers were out in full-force today. It is really sad to see grown men push their way in front of children trying to get a glimpse of their favorite player. Heck, most kids don’t care who the player is. They just want to see someone in a uniform. My wife heard one man mention the word “Ebay”, which says it all.

I got to see one of my childhood idols today, Eric Davis. As he was signing for the kids, I noticed his wristbands. I asked him how old they were. He confirmed my suspicions, telling me 1987.

Brandon Phillips came over to sign autographs and mingle with the fans. Chris Heisey is another player who always seems to try and make time for the fans.

I also got to meet Mark Sheldon from MLB.com. He was hanging out around the field and chatted with me for about 10-15 minutes. I really enjoy his writing and now know he is a first-class guy as well.

We got to Goodyear Ballpark and positioned ourselves along the left field line. When the players come out to stretch and prepare for the game is a great time to take pictures.

Corky Miller was an autograph that had eluded the kids so far. They were able to check him off their list as he stopped by to sign and say hi. Maloney was there as well and posed for a picture.

When Paul Janish was walking by, the kids asked him to sign their books. He was carrying his equipment bag and told them he would put it down and come back. Several minutes later, Janish emerged from the dugout and made his way down the line, passing people shouting his name, to fulfill his promise. He signed for the kids, asked them if they were having a good time and confirmed his “good guy” label.

Jonny Gomes is another autograph the kids are still waiting for. Sometimes, it is hard for kids to understand that the players do need to get ready for the game. Gomes did not sign, but did gesture toward my son and me. He tossed me a ball to give to my son. If he would have come over to sign autographs, he would either be there for 20 minutes or turn away a lot of people. Giving my son a ball was his way of saying, I see you and appreciate your support. Class.

The Reds beat the Diamondbacks by a score of 9-6. Phillips crushed a home run to center field in the first inning. Seeing him hit a home run is even better now that we have gotten to know him a little better.

During the ninth inning, I spotted John Fay from the Cincinnati Enquirer. I talked and joked with him for a bit. For someone like me who loves to blog about the Reds, meeting Sheldon and Fay was a real treat.

As we were leaving the park, I knew that Marty Brennaman would be in the area. He was more than happy to sign an autograph for the kids and pose for a picture. I have listened to Marty my entire life and have had the pleasure of meeting him numerous times. He is always a class act.

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