Persistence pays off in bringing ASG to Cincinnati
Reds CEO Castellini lobbied hard to land first Midsummer Classic since 1988
CINCINNATI -- To land an All-Star Game for his team and his city of Cincinnati, Reds CEO Bob Castellini asked, inquired, pushed, prodded, encouraged and insisted during repeated conversations with Commissioner Bud Selig.
"I'll say one thing for Bob, man he is persistent," Selig said, getting laughs. "I could use a couple of other terms to describe him now. Tenacity is a great virtue. Somewhere along the line, I told him it looks awfully good."
On Wednesday, when it became official that the Reds and Cincinnati would host the 2015 All-Star Game, Castellini felt awfully good, too.
It's something Castellini and the team have been working toward since he bought the Reds in 2006. Cincinnati has hosted five All-Star Games, but none since Riverfront Stadium held it in 1988.
"It was often, but not overbearing," Castellini later said of his efforts to woo Selig for another All-Star Game. "Bud understands Cincinnati, and he knows how important it is to us. I always felt like we were going to get this All-Star Game. It never entered my mind that we wouldn't get the All-Star Game."
In the years since Great American Ball Park opened in 2003, the Reds have seen newer venues awarded the Midsummer Classic. Busch Stadium in St. Louis had it in 2009, while the Mets' Citi Field and Twins' Target Field will get All-Star Games in 2013 and '14, respectively. Older venues have also been ahead of Cincinnati, like old Yankee Stadium in 2008, Anaheim in 2010 and Kansas City in 2012.
And Pittsburgh has hosted the All-Star Game twice since Cincinnati had it -- in 1994 at Three Rivers Stadium and 2006 at PNC Park.
For many, the wait was excruciating. As a state legislator in 2003, current Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory wrote a letter to Selig that lobbied for his city to host an All-Star Game.
"What a great day this is for the city of Cincinnati," Mallory said. "Baseball is a great tradition, not just around this country, but specifically here in the city of Cincinnati. It's not because of the economic impact, or all the measurables that as politicians we like to point to as the reason something is important. Baseball is important because it's part of the fabric of this city. It's a part of the fabric of Cincinnati families."
Several members of the Reds were on hand for the announcement, including second baseman Brandon Phillips, right fielder Jay Bruce and manager Dusty Baker.
A two-time National League All-Star, Phillips expects the game to be a nice moment for Cincinnati.
"I hope the city is ready for it, because I know they'll do something real big," Phillips said. "I just can't imagine what's going to happen, but I think it will be beautiful."
Hall of Famer Joe Morgan is a 10-time All-Star, including eight times for the Reds. Morgan, who is now a senior advisor to general manager Walt Jocketty, was pleased for his team to get the recognition.
"I didn't miss much [as a player]. I never got a chance to play an All-Star Game in the city I was playing in," Morgan said. "Brandon and Jay, you guys will get that opportunity, and Dusty, you will get a chance to manage. I'll tell you what, it's going to be special."
For Baker to manage in the 2015 All-Star Game, he will first have to lead the Reds to a 2014 NL pennant. Baker's new two-year contract currently runs through the '14 season, but a World Series berth would certainly help in gaining another extension.
"That's motivation," Baker said. "I've never been in a town that's hosted an All-Star Game."
Baker has been part of All-Star Games as a player, coach and manager. But there is more to the event than the game itself. Now there is a Home Run Derby, a fanfest and a Futures Game for Minor League players among the many features.
"It's changed a lot from the time I was playing," Baker said. "It's still a thrill. It's still an honor. But the economics of the whole situation has grown tremendously, [as has] the amount of coverage that's there and the amount of international coverage. It's gone from a one- or two-day event to a six-day event. I don't think anybody has an idea of what's coming until it gets here."