August 26, 2013Hi Gang:
It had been a long time since I had gotten to spend any meaningful time in or around Cincinnati, Ohio.
And it had been almost a half-century since the day I strolled the sidewalks outside the Greater Cincinnati Airport (which is actually in Kentucky) and wrote the song, “Cincinnati, Ohio.”
I got to turn back the pages of time and take a wonderful walk down memory lane this past weekend, thanks to that little song and the kind and gracious people of The Queen City.
Earlier this year I told you that the Cincinnati Reds baseball team had started using Connie Smith’s version of my song as their sing-along, dance-along music during the seventh inning stretch at their ball games. People began sending me video clips of kids standing and bopping and waving and singing and it was extremely exciting. Most of all it made me want to go to the Great American Ball Park to see it, hear it, and feel it for myself.
The path from wanting-to-go to actually getting-to-go took a few strange and twisting turns, but things finally fell into place and I drove to Cincinnati last Thursday afternoon. Friday morning I made guest appearances on both radio and television stations in the area, and on Saturday night they appointed me Honorary Captain of the ball team. I accused them of going above and beyond to roll out the “Red” carpet for me.
I won’t go into all the details, but before the game they outfitted me with a team jersey with my name across the back, introduced me to the crowd via the jumbo video screen in left field, then allowed me to deliver the Reds’ starting lineup card to the umpires at home plate. They provided a luxury suite for me and a group of my friends and business associates from which to watch the game, and then during the seventh inning stretch I got to lead the crowd in singing both “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” and “Cincinnati, Ohio.”
I couldn’t help but think throughout the evening how incredible this thing called music really is. Here was a song that I wrote in 1964, one that Connie took to the Top Ten of the country charts in 1967, and here were 33,430 people standing and singing it all these years later inside one of the most beautiful baseball stadiums in America. One that didn’t even exist until long after the song was written.
Did I mention that the Reds won the game 6-3 on a barrage of home runs? Well, they did.
And I got to retire undefeated as the Honorary Captain of the team!