CINCINNATI - From the conclusion of the World Series in late October to the beginning of spring training in mid-February, baseball fans are typically left with a feeling longing for the American pastime.
However, for two days this late fall season, baseball junkies in the Queen City will have something to celebrate.
From Friday, Dec. 7 through Saturday, Dec. 8, the legion of Redlegs followers will converge upon Duke Energy Center downtown to partake in Redsfest, a celebration of all things Cincinnati Reds.
Redsfest, which began as little more than a card and memorabilia show for collectors, has been transformed in recent years into an all-inclusive baseball experience that panders to audiences ranging from hardcore baseball fans to young families.
Featuring activities such as batting cages, running the bases and timed pitching games, Redsfest has turned itself into a family-friendly event that still offers memorabilia and merchandise shows, as well as photo ops and autograph sessions with Reds personalities that accommodates more enthusiastic Reds fans.
Reds fans of all ages will have fun celebrating the 2012 season with many of the players who helped make the season so memorable. Zack Cozart, Todd Frazier, Joey Votto, Ryan Hanigan, Brandon Phillips, Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos and Mr. 105 himself, Aroldis Chapman will be in attendance during the weekend event.
That group of core Reds players will be joined by more than 60 other current, former and future Reds players, coaches and broadcasters.
Given the Reds success this season, finishing with a 97 wins and an NL Central Division title during the 2012, many predict this Redsfest to be the biggest (in terms of size and attendance) in history.
This ticketed event, which runs from Friday at 3 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. and Saturday at 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., should be quite the festival of baseball.
Proceeds from the Reds- and MLB-sanctioned portions of Redsfest will go to charity. In addition to the Reds Community Fund, a baseball-centered program that reaches out to disadvantaged children in the Greater Cincinnati area, a special booth has been set up for Hurricane Sandy relief.
Reds infielder Todd Frazier, a New Jersey native, has set up his own charity to benefit his hometown church and the Toms River Little League. Patrons can make direct contributions at that booth.
9 News and WCPO.com have put together a list of happenings that should ensure you make the most of this encounter with the Boys of Summer this yuletide season.
The who, what, where, when and whys of Redsfest
Where: Duke Convention Center, 525 Elm St., Cincinnati
When: 3 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7; 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8
Cost: Two-day tickets are $25 for adults; $12 for kids (12 and younger); Single-day tickets are $17 for adults; $7 for kid; Children 3 and under are admitted free. AAA members will receive at $4 discount on admission.
More info: (513) 765-7000 or www.reds.com
Freebies: The first 10,000 fans each day will receive a free Reds winter headband and drawstring backpack. Fans who purchase two-day passes will receive a free View Level ticket to the Reds-Angels Opening Night game April 3.
Kids-only events: The “Reds Heads Fun Zone,” which is moving to the third floor of the Duke Energy Center, will feature batting cages, timed pitching and running the bases. The fun zone will also include interactive games, inflatable attractions, live music, a stage for players to interact with the fans and a kids-only press conference. The press conference (6:30 p.m. Friday) will allow kids get to line up and ask questions to their favorite Reds players.
There’s also a rumor that Santa Claus could make an appearance.
Adult events : There will be an indoor home-run derby, Reds and baseball merchandize for purchase and historical Reds jerseys and other memorabilia.
There will also be a Texas Hold ‘Em poker tournament held in the third-floor ballroom. Each table will feature one Reds player, coach or celebrity who will literally give you the shirt off his back if you manage to knock him out of the tournament.
Registration and side games start at 3 p.m. before the dealing of the Texas Hold ’Em event at 4 p.m. Spectator tickets will be $45 and include food and two drink tickets.
Players available for autographs include: Johnny Cueto, Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Aroldis Chapman, Zach Cozart, Mat Latos, Bronson Arroyo, Chris Heisey, J.J. Hoover, Mike Leake, Sam LeCure, Sean Marshall, Devin Mesoraco, Xavier Paul and Drew Stubbs.
Joey Votto and Todd Frazier will only make scheduled appearances Friday. Frazier’s schedule will be limited because of his upcoming wedding.
Reds manager Dusty Baker will also be available for autograph.
Reds outfielder Jay Bruce will not be in attendance because he is currently on his honeymoon.
Other Reds notables available for autographs: Notable Reds alumni who will be in attendance include Eric Davis, Joe Morgan, Dave Parker, Jack Billingham,