Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The Cincinnati Reds Basketball Club?

When I was a kid, there was something different the Reds did during winters. These days I'm sure they aren't allowed to do it for insurance purposes, but back then, you got to watch the Cincinnati Reds play a sport even during the off season. That sport was basketball.

I don't remember how many years they did it, but I know it was a few. The Reds had a traveling basketball team that went to different high schools and played basketball for charity. It wasn't just the nobodies who played, either. The stars played, too - Barry Larkin, Paul O'Neill, Hal Morris, Joe Oliver...the good old days when the Reds were a winning franchise. Barry Larkin's brother was also part of the team - Byron is it? He was the best player, as if I recall correctly, he was a college basketball star? (Fuzzy memories...)

The highlight was not the game itself, but the autograph sessions afterward. I must have those programs somewhere back in Ohio, all smeared with glorious ink at the hands of a ballplayer - I'll have to get them out and scan them to show you some time.

I mentioned this on Twitter (@churchofbasebal) and someone said he had never heard of these traveling winter teams. I'm wondering - does anyone else remember the Reds winter basketball teams?


ctrosecrans said...

i, of course, am not from here, but it sounds about right. although what i remember would be earlier, in the mid-80s when i lived in southeast virginia, the cowboys and redskins had a barnstorming basketball tour. i have a tony dorsett autograph somewhere.

and larkin's brother byron, is xavier's all-time leading scorer and is currently the xavier color guy on radio.

Daedalus said...

CTR - I think I remember one of the programs saying 1986 on it, but I know Larkin and the others I mentioned played for one of the teams. Guess my young memory wasn't fully developed then because it's all very vague in my mind. I still have those programs back in Ohio, so when I go back for Christmas, I'll have to get them out.

And Xavier - right. I should have known that because you've mentioned him before. Thanks for the reminder.

Anonymous said...

Bobby Tolan tore up his ankle playing off season basketball and basically trashed his career as a result.

I recall Michael Jordan having to go into his own contract for the "right" to play pickup games because of the fear he'd get hurt.

-- JohnU1