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Barnhart enjoys life on Reds Caravan

Brownsburg, Ind., native had Little League field named after him
MLB.com @m_sheldon

INDIANAPOLIS -- Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart is a veteran of numerous team caravans, including stops in his home state of Indiana. Back on the west leg for 2018 Reds Caravan, Barnhart has noticed things are a little different this time.

"It seems like there are more people," Barnhart said on Saturday before a caravan stop began at Castleton Square Mall in Indianapolis.

INDIANAPOLIS -- Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart is a veteran of numerous team caravans, including stops in his home state of Indiana. Back on the west leg for 2018 Reds Caravan, Barnhart has noticed things are a little different this time.

"It seems like there are more people," Barnhart said on Saturday before a caravan stop began at Castleton Square Mall in Indianapolis.

A native of Brownsburg, just outside of Indianapolis, Barnhart's star has not only risen locally, but also in Major League Baseball. After a strong 2017 season, Barnhart was named the National League Gold Glove Award winner. In late September, he signed his first long-term contract with a four-year, $16 million that carried several incentives that could push the amount higher.

Video: Sheldon talks about Barnhart's Gold Glove

Indiana fans are responding in kind. Barnhart and the group enjoyed seeing a large turnout at the Muncie, Ind., fan stop on Thursday night.

"They said it was the biggest one they ever had there," Barnhart said. "It's been fun. This is my third stop I've done on this caravan. It's definitely fun to be in my home state and pretty much in my backyard."

The hometown pride is hard to miss.

"The Pacers and the Colts have been really good to me and my family," Barnhart said. "They've had us out to games and I've gotten to do some stuff pregame that I hadn't gotten to do in the past. I get recognized a few more times than I used to. It's fun. I get to see and hang out with a lot of people that I get to see during the season in Cincinnati, which is really cool. I see Brownsburg Bulldogs shirts at Great American Ball Park or hear people yell that they're from Brownsburg. Being able to play in Cincinnati is incredible."

On Friday morning, the Reds Caravan made a stop in Brownsburg to support the town's Little League and announce a Reds Community Fund contribution to the building of a new youth baseball complex.

Tweet from @Reds: .@Tucker_Barnhart and the West Tour stopped in Tucker���s hometown of Brownsburg, IN today to announce that the future home of Brownsburg Little League will feature ���Tucker Barnhart Field.��� Tucker led his Brownsburg LL team to the regional final of the LLWS in 2002. #RedsCaravan pic.twitter.com/lQKEPr8NCW

There was a surprise waiting for Barnhart at this particular stop. He did not know that one of the baseball diamonds would include Tucker Barnhart Field until the moment it was announced. Barnhart helped Brownsburg reach the regional final of the Little League World Series in 2002.

"I had no idea," Barnhart said. "It's extremely humbling and an honor, to say the least. I never would have thought that I would have my name on one of the fields in the community that raised me. I'm extremely thankful for everybody that's in Brownsburg."

It's capped a great personal year for Barnhart and his wife, Sierra, who also welcomed their first baby -- a son -- five month ago.

Otherwise, it's been a normal offseason for Barnhart as he enters a Spring Training as the Reds' primary catcher for the first time.

"I have always carried myself in the offseason [with the idea] that I need to get ready to play every day -- whether it's because of what I'm told or things that happen that propelled me to play every day," said Barnhart, who batted .270/.347/.403 with seven home runs and 44 RBIs in 121 games. "I felt I would be doing myself and my team a disservice if I wasn't ready to play or able to contribute or produce for the team."

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Cincinnati Reds, Tucker Barnhart