Part of me still does not believe what I experienced, but I will try my best to recap it because it was truly something I don't want to ever forget, so if its on Buck's Blog, someone can read it to me when I get too old to remember it... WARNING: this may be a long entry, might want to get a reading blanket or something to eat....
When Nathan Baker told me I was going to the game I was excited, but I got to be honest, I was a little sad that my duties were to stay outside of the park, even though it still would be fun... Well when our chief photographer ended up taking a live truck with Kylie, that meant that I got to go with Nathan down in a station car and that changed the plans a little bit. On the way down we were discussing the possible outcomes of the game and the St. Louis game, and you have NO IDEA how much we wanted the Reds to win last night. As soon as we get to the stadium we grab our equipment and we headed inside. It was my first time underneath the stadium and it was pretty cool to see the behind the scenes. Then it happened, before I knew it, we took a door that lead us into the "Reds Foyer," if you will. We signed in again and after about a thirty foot walk, we were in the locker room. I have never been so giddy in all my life. You turn around and Volquez was there and Gomes as well... We ended up talking to a few of them before the game including Brandon Phillips (who never had alcohol until last night), I think we also got Jay Bruce, then to Dusty Baker, and finished off with our home town Hall of Famer, Hal McCoy. If you couldn't guess, the excitement was just building. We then walked through the tunnel out to the field passing all of the banners of their previous championships, some a decade old, and before you walk onto the field there is a sign above the doorway: "Expect to Win"... chills, I know! We shot a little video of batting practice, then went back outside to send back the video we got.
So we hung out outside of the stadium as Kylie and Nathan did their live shots via satellite. It was still going to be our Cheif Photographer to get the video of the champagne, but I could tell he wasn't excited to get himself and his camera soaked IF the Reds won. As for me, I couldn't wait...so after a little coaxing, we switched and he was going to stay outside with Kylie later to get crowd reaction.
Once the live shots were finished, the game was about to start. Kylie, Nathan, and I all went upstairs to the press box, bought our food and watched most of the game. We were also keeping an eye out in left field to see what the Cardinals score was because it either took a Reds win or a Cardinals loss to clinch the playoffs, but we all wanted a Reds win. The score got was tied up in the 6th inning and I have never heard the stadium as loud as that with the bases loaded, but they finished the inning still tied up.... Now, we had to run down to the main concourse to tape a few teases to air during the prime time shows. Kylie went back to the satellite truck to get everything ready to get crowd reaction, and Nathan and I went back up to the press box. I asked Nathan if I should put on the rain gear for the camera now, or just wait and not jinx us....he smiled and said, "Wait", I smiled with agreement. We watched the next two innings go scoreless and we were headed into the ninth. Chapman took the mound and dazzled the audience with 100+ mph pitches. It was like the Superbowl kickoff with camera flashes lighting up the sky.... I have never seen anything like it in my life, strobe lights going off every single pitch... three outs, no problem... At this point it all turned to chaos and a fairytale ending.
Jay Bruce was walking up to the plate, Nathan said "If we win, we yell hooray, and sprint downstairs for the celebration." Then he said: "Unless he hits a home run off the Nike sign (high in the center field), then I will need time to clean up the drool..." or something to the extent. First pitch, you could hear the crack on the wood, the 30,000+ went silent, and the ball was headed for the Nike sign. It fell just short, but still cleared the wall..... HOME RUN!!! The place went bazerk, for lack of a better word. We started running before I realized I forgot my cell phone, I ran back to grab it and was running behind, and we all took off down about five stories of stairs. We knew we were going to have to wait a little bit to get into the locker rooms, but a LITTLE bit it was... We got into the Reds Foyer and before I could get the rain gear fully on my camera they opened the doors and said: "Head on in!" I just got chills typing this and hearing those words in my head....
We ran into the locker room and all of the walls and anything electronic had already been tarped off. At first it was about ten camera guys and a few sports guys, most of which were wearing waterproof clothes as if they were about ready to report from inside a hurricane. Then came Gomes...hands down the "most excited" one of the night. He sprinted in and ran to his locker for his ski goggles. Before anyone else was in the locker room, he ran back and was shaking and spraying champagne and from there it was a bath. Other players grabbed bottles and were spraying it everywhere. Nathan was able to grab a few of them and interview them as other players were dumping champagne or beer on their heads. It was a sight to see and a memory I hope I never forget. The champagne rained down for about twenty minutes and the camera was still working fine despite it, and myself, being soaked. We also managed grab an interview with Hal McCoy and Brandon Phillips, among about fifteen others. Phillips said he didn't know if he was tipsy from the excitement or the alcohol, but he was tearing up with excitement, rightly so. We talked to a ton of players and it was crazy. The players went back onto the field to spray some of the fans that were behind the dugout, and they were loving it.
As we were wrapping things up I managed to get an empty bottle of the champagne and two corks, one for the bottle to keep the air fresh inside, and the second one for Jimmy Noe, one of my good friends. I remember hanging out with him in elementary school and he would always have the Reds game on, so I thought he deserved it. What a night! We finally went back outside (which was extra chilly thanks to my champagne soaked clothes) and finished off the ten and eleven news live from outside the Reds Merchandise Shop. After tearing down all the equipment and heading home Nathan and I just keep saying how we couldn't believe what just happened...a walk off home run by Bruce, champagne shower, and we are heading to the Playoffs!
It is still soaking in this morning... I attached a few photos: two screen captures from the Reds homepage today... see if you can find someone in the background, I also included a tighter photo... The third is after the game, you can see how soaked I still was. Have a good one!
Andrew Buck Michael
UPDATE: Someone found another picture and sent it to me via twitter... It is the fourth photo.