A couple weeks ago local youth baseball players were given the opportunity of a lifetime - learning the game from athletes who had played on the game's biggest stage during the 16th annual Reds Legends baseball camp.
Some of the greatest players ever to don a Reds uniform were in town with the likes of former Big Red Machine ace Don Gullett, Big Red Machine left fielder George Foster, shortstop Leo "Chico" Cardenas and outfielder Herm Winningham at VFW Field.
Big Red Machine slugger Ken Griffey Sr. was scheduled to be in town, but was unable to make the camp after his flight was delayed in Orlando, Fla. due to a thunderstorm.
That delay made him miss his connecting flight to Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport and kept him from the camp. Griffey is expected to make a trip to town for a one-day instructional session later in the year for Reds Legends campers.
Those five names are familiar to just about every diehard Reds fan and for three days VFW Field was filled with players from tee-ball on up to high school learning from legends of the game.
While there were some big names at VFW Field teaching the game, it wasn't just players in Reds uniforms teaching the fundamentals of the game.
At every station standing beside one of the Reds Legends was another guy with a glove or bat, working to help young baseball players improve their skills.
After all, when a kid is learning to pitch with Gullett there has to be a catcher on the other end and to work on fielding with Cardenas there has to be somebody hitting grounders.
Those men are the real secret behind the success of the Reds Legends baseball camp.
They're not major leaguers or big name all-stars but to the kids at Reds Legends and their community they're every bit as important.
Steve Hill, Chad Barnes, Jim Tenney, Ron Casci, John Mustain, Daniel Wagner, Michael Wagner, Mark Magers, Joe Matheny and Robin Newhart.
Some are teachers at the local high school or fire fighters that show up in our greatest hour of need.
Others are those guys who work 40 hours a week at the jobs that keep America running, but all were among the volunteers that showed up for Reds Legends.
Those are the kind of people that it takes to make something like a baseball camp with legends work.
It's not done with just a few former big league players and it takes a love of children and the game to be willing to give so much.
"When you take three days of paid vacation from your work to come down here and work in the hot sun, you love baseball," said Reds Legends camp director Mike Wagner.
Kevin Pierson is a sports writer for The Marietta Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 376-5440.