Wednesday, February 09, 2000
Griffey is talk of the town
BY PHILLIP PINA
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Baseball in Cincinnati has likely never been so hot in February.
As the effort to bring Ken Griffey Jr. to the Cincinnati Reds heats up, so, too, has the fan interest throughout Reds country. In the newspapers, on sports talk shows and down at the local VFW post, Cincinnati is talking baseball.
The prospect of getting one of the game's most accomplished players back in his hometown is too good a story, said Barry Strasser, a former Knothole baseball coach whose team once included Mr. Griffey. The trade, or lack of one, is the talk of the town, he added.
Fans are dying for it to happen, said Andy Furman, whose SportsTalk show is broadcast on WLW-AM (700). The discussion on his show has centered on the Reds and a possible trade with the Seattle Mariners for Mr. Griffey.
Robert Wert and his wife, Shirley, are big-time Reds fans who have had season tickets since 1952 and make an annual trip to spring training. It seems everywhere they go, someone is talking about the Reds, Mr. Wert said.
When the Werts are visiting with friends, the Griffey trade comes up. When Mr. Wert stops in at the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post, the Griffey trade comes up. And when he goes for a morning walk, the Griffey trade comes up.
While they are fans of Junior, they worry that a deal to bring him to Cincinnati could upset the nucleus of a team that came one game from making the playoffs this past season.
I don't think one man can make a team, Mr. Wert said.
At a time when basketball normally dominates local interest, the Reds have taken over. Mr. Griffey aside, there were the recent announcements that Reds great Tony Perez and Reds announcer Marty Brennaman will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in July.
And Opening Day is still nearly two months away.
Just picture the June series between the Reds and the St. Louis Cardinals, Mr. Strasser said.
Mark McGwire. Junior. You wouldn't be able to buy a ticket.
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