Jesse Winker and Sal Romano were walking around the main floor of the Duke Energy Convention Center in downtown Cincinnati on Thursday morning when Winker paused for moment.
“Dude, I’m going to look so cool in those red pants,” the Cincinnati Reds outfielder said.
Winker had glimpsed a collection of 15 mannequins adorned with the throwback uniforms the Reds will wear during the 2019 season commemorating the 150th anniversary of the invention in 1869 in Cincinnati of all-professional teams with the baseball Redlegs.
The Reds announced the franchise’s plans for celebrating the anniversary during an invitation-only event at Great American Ball Park on Nov. 5. This season’s Redsfest, the 21st since the first fan-friendly event in January 1997, will give fans a chance to get a closer look at what to expect during the 2019 season.
“It will be a year-long celebration,” Chief Operating Officer Phil Castellini said . “We introduced it earlier this month and we’ll be retelling it here and spreading the word about what’s to come.”
Redsfest is scheduled for Friday from 3 p.m.-10:30 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the convention center, bounded by Fifth, Elm and Sixth Streets and Central Avenue. Events include Redsfest Bingo, starting on the third floor on Friday with registration starting at 5 p.m. and the tournament starting at 6 p.m., and the Rick Steiner Celebrity Poker Tournament, starting at 4 p.m. on Saturday with a guaranteed $11,000 first prize. The poker tournament had sold out.
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All Redsfest proceeds benefit the Reds Community Fund.
Thirty major leaguers, 16 former Reds, 18 minor leaguers, eight members of the coaching staff and seven broadcasters were scheduled to attend. Scooter Gennett, Curt Casali and Phillip Ervin are unable to attend because of conflicts with weddings of family members or close friends, according to the Reds.
This year’s Redsfest will include the usual Main Stage activities, including Friday’s introduction of all the current and former Reds in attendance and the always-popular Kids Only Press Conference, as well as the non-stop autograph and photo sessions with players – including minor leaguers – and broadcasters, numerous interactive areas, booth displays, games, contests and sills camps on scaled-down ballfields and a wide assortment of memorabilia dealers.
One addition this year is what Castellini described as a “mobile clubhouse for Kids Club members” on the main floor.
Last year’s Redsfest drew 16,266 fans. One of them was Winker’s mom, Karen.
“My mom’s a big fan,” he said. “She comes every year.”
Winker has lost count of how many Redsfests he’s attended, estimating it five or six, but he still recalls being surprised at how many fans knew so much about him, even when he still was in the low minor leagues.
“It made me feel a part of things here,” he said. “It showed me how much the Reds matter to everybody.”
This year’s Redsfest will be the fourth for Romano, who is impressed that fans stop by and remember his days in the Reds system, especially his two seasons in Dayton.
“It’s cool when you see people who’ve followed you your entire career,” the right-handed pitcher said. “It’s cool to sign stuff from your minor league years.”