The blast returned the Reds to the baseball post-season for the first time in 15 years.
It was only the fifth time in baseball history a post-season slot has been clinched on a walk-off home run.
This is where I was going to put a little smart-alec paragraph trying to be coy about me writing this column on the Reds. But it’s no use. I’ve loved the Reds for more than 50 years. I went to a baseball game instead of my college graduation. I’m deliriously happy. If you want baseball objectivity try the dictionary.
David Kaufmann of Rockdale, operations manager of GFL Americas here, has the right to feel even prouder than I do.
There’s no punch line. It’s the truth. David used to be a scout for the Reds. He first saw Bruce when the young slugger was a junior at Beaumont West Brook High School and came to a tryout camp David helped organize.
David got on the phone to his boss in Cincinnati in a big hurry. “We’ve got to sign this guy,” David said. “We’ve got to make him our No. 1 pick.”
Cincinnati did just that in 2005. And the rest, as they say, is history.
(Excuse me. BRUUUUUUUCE! BRUUUUUUUUCE!!!. I had to do that. I even yelled it as I typed.)
What had David seen?
“He was a five-tool player (hit, hit with power, throw, field, run),” David said. “Just a great athlete, you could tell, even at that age. Something really special.”
Here’s the best part. “He’s a great young man, as nice as you’d ever want to meet,” David said.
In addition to Beaumont’s Bruce there’s Homer Bailey of La Grange, Waco’s ageless wonder Arthur Rhodes, rookie sensation Logan Ondrusek of Shiner, Drew Stubbs of Atlanta, Paul Janish of Houston and Laynce Nix of Midland.
There were more native Texans on the Reds than on the Astros or the Rangers in 2010.
(Daniel Ray Herrera of Odessa was on the team earlier in the year and the Reds No. 1 all-time fan resides in Rockdale. Hi, there.)
David played high school and college baseball with Bailey’s father and was also involved in the Reds’ signing of Homer.
(Wouldn’t “Homer” seem to be a totally inappropriate name for a pitcher? And what about former Pirates’ pitcher, and current announcer, Bob Walk? Sorry, told you I was delirously happy.)
“I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for the Reds and I guess I always will,” David said.
That dates back to a high school game he played at the Astrodome in 1975 when the Big Red Machine was in town.
“We suited up in the Reds’ dressing room,” David recalled. “In the game, I made a play, which I thought was just routine and Sparky Anderson yelled ‘nice play’ at me. I’ve always thought, ‘you know, he didn’t have to do that’.”
And now a ballplayer David discovered and steered into a Reds’ career is part of that legacy.
Last Wednesday, before the game, Reds’ broadcaster Thom Brennaman was showing highlights of the division-clinching victory the night before and here came Bruce’s home run again.
It had been played almost without ceasing for the past day. Brennaman smiled, “I could watch that a thousand times.”
Me too, Thom, me too.