If you have yet to visit the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum, you should plan to do so the next time you are at Great American Ballpark. It is widely acclaimed as the greatest collection of baseballia outside of Cooperstown.
The museum lovingly curates thousands of significant articles of Reds’ history, including jerseys worn by the likes of Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, and Tony Perez, batting gloves used by Chris Sabo, and bats swung by Adam Dunn and Ken Griffey Jr. These items are displayed to mark notable occasions in Reds’ history, like the ball Jr hit to record the first hit in GABP history, the bat Scooter Gennett used to hit four home runs in the same game, and the spittoon Bill McKechnie used in the home dugout at Crosley Field. These ordinary baseball items are imbued with the power of the history of this great game that we love.
So what’s next for the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum? We often debate the players that might eventually be enshrined, but where might we find the next lucky ball or bat that will be forever entombed in Reds lore? Spring Training is the time for boundless speculation and dreamy premonition, so let’s take a look.
The Ball that Might Save Jeff Brantley’s Life
This baseball very well might be the one that saves Jeff Brantley from a fiery automobile accident. What if The Cowboy is involved in a gruesome six-car pile-up on I-75? What if his car explodes in a fireball with him struggling to free himself from his seat belt? And what if this very baseball is the one that heroically pulls the long-time Reds broadcaster from the wreck, saving his life? Surely, it will then have earned itself a place in the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum.
Joey Votto’s Broken Bat that Could Be the First to Earn a Law Degree from UC
Joey Votto is known for his supernatural ability in the batter’s box. He is the greatest hitter in Reds history, and he became so through tireless effort and preparation. He is meticulous about his diet, his habits, and his training, and that undoubtedly extends to his selection and care of his equipment.
So there is no doubt that this particular bat is special. If the great Votto thinks it is good enough for him to use in a game, then there must be SOMETHING about it. What if this bat, which was broken in a game against the Diamondbacks last July, is the first broken bat to earn entry into the University of Cincinnati College of Law? And what if it is the first of its kind to complete its studies and actually earn a law degree from UC? It is one thing for a bat to earn a law degree, but it is truly inspiring for one to overcome the handicap of being broken and still earn that degree. That is certainly worthy of inclusion in the RHoFaM.
The Helmet with the Potential to be the First to Finish the Flying Pig
Cincinnati is definitely one of the greatest sports towns in the country. The Queen City loves its professional baseball and football teams, but the citizens yell just as loudly for the soccer team, the college hoopsters, and the folks who run in the annual Flying Pig Marathon. On the first Sunday of May every year it attracts thousands of runners from around the world.
But what if a baseball helmet was to enter the race? This one here, worn by Billy Hamilton and lost as The Bullet rounded second base at GABP, could very well be the first to do so. And if this helmet sets its mind on running the race, I wouldn’t bet against it finishing the whole damn thing. It may look like every other ordinary batting helmet worn by a member of the Reds, but it is unique circumstances (like finishing the city’s marathon) that make the ordinary become extraordinary. The extraordinary history of the Reds is what the Hall of Fame and Museum is all about.
Scooter Gennett’s Batting Gloves that Could Pitch a World Series-Clinching Out
Look, I’m generally not one to get ahead of myself. I love the Reds as much as anyone else around here, but I’m also realistic about their chances. The odds are that the 2018 Reds will fall short of the postseason. But you know, maybe this year will be our year. Or the year after. This organization has a ton of young talent right now, so I’m not betting against them.
We all know the key to building a winner starts with strong pitching. Luis Castillo looks like a young ace, and there are a half-dozen other guys in camp right now with the potential to be so, as well. But what if this pair of batting gloves, once worn by Scooter Gennett, is that missing piece of the puzzle that can put them over the top?
What if Bryan Price trusts the gloves to pitch? What if they end up making the team and being a key part of the bullpen? What if the Reds actually make the postseason and win the World Series, with these gloves pitching the Series-clinching out? It is a big dream, for sure, but if it happened, these gloves would never again have to buy a beer in all of Hamilton County. They would likely serve as the Grand Marshal in the Findlay Market Parade someday and maybe even find themselves forever immortalized in the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum.
These are all big dreams, but legends dream big.