My wife, son and daughter-in-law and I agreed that we should spend Saturday and part of Sunday in Cincinnati. We had decided it would be fun for us all to attend a Cincinnati Reds game, but the weekend series with the Pittsburgh Pirates was experiencing high demand for tickets, and it was difficult to find a way to get all six of us (their kids, too, of course) into the ballpark into good seats. So we initially decided to postpone.
Then I learned that there was something special planned and that we all had to be AT the ballpark but not necessarily IN the park. For the life of me, I had no earthly idea what that meant, but we determined that tickets for my son and me would be sufficient, and my wife, daughter-in-law and the grandchildren would do other things while we were at the ballpark.
So we traveled north Saturday afternoon, took a shuttle bus from Newport over to downtown Cincinnati and to Great American Ball Park, home of the Reds. We made it to the concourse outside the park that's "protected" by a statue of former Reds catcher Johnny Bench (my son and I were there the night the dedicated it two years ago) and my son then produced a very heavy but not very large package for me to open.
My God, I thought, there must be a brick in here, it's so heavy! The grandkids helped me open it, and, would you believe that there WAS a brick inside? Here's how it's inscribed:
Richard C. Smith
Love you Poppy!
Let's Go Reds
I was STUNNED.
Then my son explained that this was mine to keep, and one just like it was imbedded in the grounds surrounding the Bench statue. After a little searching and some help from a Reds employee we found it, just out in front of the statue's base and to the right. Wow. So I'm now somehow a "part" of the Cincinnati Reds. I'm sitting here at my desk looking at my "copy" of the brick and getting a little misty thinking about this.
Our daughter and her family couldn't be here, as they'd all traveled some earlier in the summer, but sent a video for the occasion. Turns out that this has been in the works since February, when the Reds announced a commemorative brick program to raise money for the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum, which I have toured on several occasions. There had been some uncertainty as to when the bricks would be installed in the concourse and the Reds apparently confirmed that they'd be in place following the recently completed baseball All-Star break, so that meshed well with my birthday.
Pretty hard to keep a secret from me, but my gang did a great job!
Wow. That's about all I can keep saying. Wow.