CINCINNATI -- Traditionally, Major League Baseball's All-Star festivities do not just celebrate the stars of today's game. They also present a perfect time to shine the spotlight back on the legends and characters from yesteryear, especially those who once played for the host team.
Assuming that will be the case next year, baseball fans are in for some fun. The Reds, baseball's oldest franchise, have housed some of the most decorated players in the game's history. Every decade sprouted stars remembered fondly to this day; some for their career-long heroics, others for isolated moments that added to the franchise's long-standing winning tradition.
The Reds' rich history is one of their most endearing qualities, and it has been captured classically and tastefully on the 2015 All-Star logo, revealed Wednesday morning at Great American Ball Park, where the game will be played on July 14.
The logo was presented by Reds president and CEO Bob Castellini, MLB executive vice president of business Tim Brosnan, Cincinnati mayor John Cranley and Hamilton County Board of Commissioners Chris Monzel and Todd Portune, as well as president of baseball operations and general manager Walt Jocketty, manager Bryan Price and third baseman Todd Frazier.
"The organization, from the original baseball club to the Big Red Machine to the 1990 World Series champions to the Reds' current roster, which has eight players who [have] participated in the All-Star Game -- it's just a really enormously rich baseball tradition," Brosnan said. "For us at Major League Baseball, to come and have that fertile ground to put this showcase on, it's a remarkable opportunity. We will have Reds fans all over the world celebrate that great tradition."
The primary logo in the center of the illustration depicts the handlebar mustache and old-style square cap worn by the Reds' most traditional mascot, Mr. Redlegs. His perfectly round head sits on top of the Reds' classic oval-shaped "C."
The crossed bats represent a traditional baseball design, while the addition of deep red creates dimension to the Reds' colors of red and black.
The logo unveiling was a symbolic event designed to jump-start anticipation for the 86th All-Star Game, the first to be played in the Queen City since 1988. Although All-Star Week is still 11 months away, planning for the event began about a year and a half ago, right around the time the Reds were awarded the game.
"We're very proud," Castellini said. "Not only are we setting out not to disappoint, but we want to exceed expectations. I know we will, with our staff and the MLB folks who are professionals at this. This is a gem event. It will be over the top, I guarantee it."
Things have changed since the Reds most recently hosted the All-Star Game 26 years ago, when they played at Riverfront Stadium. Whereas in the old days teams were awarded the privilege to host based on somewhat of a rotating basis, in more modern times[,] clubs are often given All-Star Game hosting duties after they open a new ballpark.
GABP has been around since 2003, but it's never looked better. Castellini and his investor group that purchased the club in '06 gave the downtown ballpark a refreshing facelift, adding more attractions on the concourses, and a riverboat-styled deck was installed over the batters' eye in center field. Before next season, there will be more cosmetic improvements and full renovations of some of the lower-level concession stands and a redone Riverfront Club.
"You see the renovations they're making," Frazier said. "And you can see during the regular games that it's a packed house, especially on the weekends. It's going to be really cool once it's set in stone. The excitement in this town is already building."
The area around the ballpark has also boomed in recent years. The Banks District just outside of GABP boasts an impressive alley of bars and restaurants, in addition to the Smale Riverfront Park, which will be completed soon.
Up the road, a redesigned and more vibrant Fountain Square has given the downtown area a more festive flavor, as has a redeveloped and eclectic Over-The-Rhine neighborhood.
Officials estimate the All-Star Game will inject approximately $80 million to $90 million into the city's economy.
"With the development in town in the Riverfront Park and Banks, it'll be a better event because of what the city's done in the last couple of years, as well as improvements we've made to the ballpark," said Reds chief operating officer Phil Castellini. "It's really all come together.
"It's the national and global spotlight that will be in town that's just really exciting. Over the history of the city, there's a lot of things Cincinnati's famous for, baseball being one of them. We just look forward to making that shine in 2015."
Cincinnati will be just the sixth city to host five or more All-Star Games. Great American Ball Park will be the city's third venue to host the festivities. Crosley Field staged the 1938 and '53 All-Star Games, while Riverfront Stadium was the venue for the Midsummer Classics of '70 and '88.
Bob Castellini, who was born three years after the first one in 1938, vividly remembers attending the other three. He looks forward to adding a fourth one to his memory bank and celebrating one of Cincinnati's most endearing qualities: an appreciation of tradition.
"This has been a baseball town for generations," Bob Castellini said. "It's extremely generational here in Cincinnati. Kids leave, go to other cities, take jobs elsewhere. When they call home, the first thing they ask their parents, 'How are the Reds doing?'"
Next July, as the baseball world descends up on the Queen City, the answer will be crystal clear.