Reds fete '90 champions in pregame ceremony
CINCINNATI -- Rain fell on the field, but the party went on, as the Reds continued their weekend-long celebration of their 1990 World Series champions on Saturday at Great American Ball Park.
Heavy showers descended upon the ballpark in the hours leading up to the Reds-Cubs afternoon tilt, delaying the start of the game (it was eventually postponed) and eliminating the possibility of the pregame ceremony taking place on the field. So the Reds simply turned to Plan B, staging the 1990 reunion from the Handlebar Club in right field, with the players sitting out on the balcony area in plain view of the fans in the stands.
Most fans watched the ceremony on the video board while huddling in the sheltered areas in the back of each tier of seats.
The ceremony, emceed by longtime radio announcer Marty Brennaman, opened with a video highlighting the best moments of the 1990 World Series between the Reds and Athletics. Brennaman then introduced the 1990 Reds -- a list that included many members of the front office and support staff, and 30 members of the coaching staff and roster. Among the most recognizable names: Eric Davis, Barry Larkin, Chris Sabo, and the Nasty Boys -- Rob Dibble, Norm Charlton and Randy Myers.
The Reds then asked for a moment of silence to remember former owner Marge Schott and two deceased players from the '90 club: Tim Layana and Rick Mahler.
Two prominent members of the '90 team who could not be there sent along their greetings to the players and fans: Hall of Famer Tony Perez, the club's first-base coach in '90, who recorded a video message, and manager Lou Piniella, who sent along a hand-written letter.
"My sincere apologies for not being there on this very special occasion," Piniella's letter read. "Needless to say  was a great year in Reds baseball history. Unfortunately, our nephew, whom we are very close to, is getting married this weekend in Key West, [Fla.]. This trip has been planned by our family for a very long time. Naturally, I am disappointed that I can't be there to share in your joy reliving all those wonderful moments that made that season so amazing.
"To the players, you are very special to me, and I want to thank you again for your dedication, your professionalism and your commitment to winning.
"To the coaches and the entire organization, thank you so much for a job well done. We could not have done it without you.
"And to the fans ... what would a team be without your support, your encouragement, your love. Thank you for all of that and a lot more. Please enjoy this wonderful tribute ... and even though I'm not present my heart will be with you."
Reds chief operating officer Phil Castellini gave a brief address to the crowd and thanked the 1990 Reds for attending the weekend festivities before turning it over to Larkin, who gave the final address.
Larkin thanked the Castellini family and the entire ownership group for staging the reunion and "allowing us to reconnect about something so very special."
"As Ron Oester said, 'We were a family,'" Larkin said. "We had each other's backs. I only hope the players now have an opportunity to be part of a team like the 1990 team."
The ceremony ended fittingly -- with a replay of the infamous "Reds Hot" rap video the team recorded in September 1990, starring "B-Lark and the Homeboys."
A split screen showed the 1990 players watching the video from their seats at the Handlebar Club. Not surprisingly, their reaction was a mixture of laughter, incredulousness and a little embarrassment.
It also revealed the camaraderie that still exists among teammates, even a quarter century later.