CINCINNATI -- Right fielder Jay Bruce never forgot the Reds scout who signed him out of high school as a first-round Draft pick in 2005. A year later, that scout, Brian Wilson, died suddenly from a heart attack -- a terrible shock since Wilson was only 33 years old.
On Tuesday at the Batavia Township Community Center in Clermont County, Ohio, Bruce was on hand for the dedication of Brian Wilson Field. Ground was broken last May to begin field renovations, and it was underwritten by Bruce through the Reds Community Fund.
"It was great," Bruce said. "I feel fortunate to be able to help out with something like that and I'm one of the smallest parts of it. I just had the name and financial backing but all the guys that put in the work and dedicated the time are the ones who really need to be praised."
The field is to be used for youth players in the Reds Rookie Success League and by the University of Cincinnati-Clermont County baseball team.
"Those guys have a place to play now," Bruce said. "It's a nice token of appreciation to Brian and his family, and his efforts. But it doesn't begin to explain the effect he had on me and the Reds organization in general."
Also attending the ribbon cutting were Wilson's widow, Prairie, and their three children. Besides Bruce, Wilson also signed current Reds players Sam LeCure and Logan Ondrusek and former Reds center fielder Drew Stubbs.
"He was one of the most genuine, nice, pleasant people I've ever come across in my life -- still to this day," Bruce said. "That's the one thing that sticks out in my mind when I think about him - how genuine he was. That's important when it comes to amateur scouting. … He made you feel at home. He was a great extension of the Reds organization. He represented them very well."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.