On Tuesday April 16th, two lucky Elder journalism students went to visit Great American Ballpark, when the Reds played the Philadelphia Phillies. The two students who had the opportunity to go were seniors Ben Beall and me. We arrived to the ball park roughly around 4:45. We went in through the Gapper's Alley gate, which was along the third base side of the ball park. This is where we met our tour guide, Emily Mahle. Emily took us out on the field to watch the Reds during batting practice. As soon as I walked onto the field, it smelled like peanuts and sunflower seeds, which was incredible. We were not allowed to walk on the grass so we watched from the dirt area behind home plate. We were also unable to yell for any of the players because it was considered to be a working environment, which was hard for me.
It was unbelievable to see how everything looked from the field. I personally am so accustomed to seeing GABP from the upper deck, so it was a totally new viewpoint.
While we were down on the field, Thom Brennaman was walking around behind us getting ready for the show. I found it to be really cool how it seemed that every baseball player from both teams knew each other. Whether they were from the Reds or Phillies, they would joke around with each other and have a good time. I also enjoyed seeing Mat Latos play right field and Jay Bruce play first base for a brief time during batting practice. If I played for the Reds, during batting practice I would be scared to death because the whole time Dusty Baker and sometimes Joey Votto would stand behind the cage and just watch the player hit. How intimidating would that be to have your manager look over you like that!
Later on during batting practice, Todd Frazier came out of the dugout and walked over to us. It was a special moment to be able to talk to and shake hands with the Reds third baseman. Frazier was such a nice guy, not only to us but to everyone watching batting practice. I thought his voice sounded a lot like Tom Hanks.
When the Reds batting practice was over, we went to the field level interview room to talk with Rob Butcher, the head of Media Relations. We talked to him about his job and since I'm interested in getting a job like his, I found this to be very helpful and I learned a lot.
Then we went to see the press box. This is where the press sits to watch the game and take notes. We saw Jeff Piecoro and Jim Day. I'm pretty sure I scared Jim Day a little bit. He caught me staring at him, while he was walking down the stairs because I was "star struck".
After this, we went to visit the scoreboard control room. This room was a little colder than any other room because there was so much electrical equipment in the room and they had to keep it from overheating.
While we were walking to the control room, we saw the two rooms where they have the radio broadcast on 700 WLW and the TV broadcast on Fox Sports Ohio. Unfortunately, we were not lucky enough to see Marty Brennaman, Chris Welch, or Jeff "the cowboy" Brantley. Right across from these two rooms was a room where all the press could go and get something to eat during a commercial break or a break in the game. All of the food looked delicious, so I was jealous.
To end our tour, we went to the Reds Hall of Fame. It was so neat to see all of the signed baseballs, baseball cards, pictures and other miscellaneous memorabilia from famous Reds players from the past. There was a stairwell in the museum that had 4,192 baseballs from Pete Rose all lined up on the wall. While we were walking up the steps and seeing the baseballs, we were listening to the radio broadcast when Pete Rose had his famous hit to break the record. Hearing Marty Brennaman and Joe Nuxhall go insane on the radio gave me the chills.
In the museum, there was an area where we could throw a pitch and see how fast we threw it. I had a hard time topping 60 mph but Beall was able to get up to 66 mph.
After we looked around a little longer, we hung out in the ballpark before the game which started late because there was a rain delay.
This was a great experience and it was definitely something I will remember forever.
Zach Willmes is a senior staff writer at Elder High School. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.