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‘Sports Spotlight’ Articles

Reds induct Casey, Driessen, the late John Reilly to team Hall of Fame

Press release courtesy of Cincinnati Reds

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Three-time All-Star Sean Casey, Big Red Machine infielder Dan Driessen and 19th-century first baseman John Reilly were inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame in ceremonies at Great American Ball Park on Saturday afternoon June 23, prior to the game vs. the Minnesota Twins.

Casey was selected by the fans through the modern player ballot presented by The veterans committee selected Driessen and Reilly.

Sean Casey (Reds photo)

Danny Driessen (Reds photo)

One of the most popular players to ever wear a Reds uniform, Casey came to be known as “The Mayor” during his 8-year Reds career.

A versatile infielder of the Big Red Machine clubs of the 1970s, Dreissen played 12 seasons for the Reds from 1973 to 1984.

A Cincinnati-native and dominant first baseman in the 1880’s, Reilly wore a Reds uniform for his nine-season Major League career and held Reds records for most singles, double, triples, home runs, runs scored, RBI and games played.

Casey was the top vote-getter of the thousands of ballots cast online at, at Great American Ball Park and at participating Skyline Chili and Montgomery Inn locations.

Driessen and Reilly were selected by the Reds Hall of Fame’s veterans committee, comprised of members of the media, Hall of Famers, historians and Hall of Fame executives.

The addition of Casey, Driessen and Reilly  brings the Hall’s membership ranks to 75 players, 3 managers, and 3 executives, a total of 81.

Previously inducted members of the Hall of Fame in attendance at the press conference included Clay Carroll, Wayne Granger, George Foster, Lee May, Tommy Helms, Mario Soto, Joe Morgan, Eric Davis, Johnny Bench, Jim O’Toole, Dave Concepcion, Leo Cardenas, Cesar Geronimo, Gary Nolan, Tom Browning, Jack Billingham,

Sean Casey (First Baseman, 1998-2005)
One of the most popular players to ever wear a Reds uniform, first baseman Sean Casey came to be known as “The Mayor” during his 8-year Reds career. Acquired by the Reds on the eve of Opening Day in 1998, Casey overcame a serious eye injury and established himself as the club’s starting first baseman and would remain in that position for the next 7 seasons. A lifetime .305 hitter as a Red, Casey eclipsed the .300 mark 5 times during his Reds career, posting a career-best .332 average in 1999. Casey was one of the offensive forces of the 1999 Reds, a club that won 96 games and fell just 1 win short of securing a playoff berth. For the 1999 season, Casey led the Reds in batting average, hits, doubles, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. During his Reds career, Casey ranked in the league’s Top 10 in batting average 3 times and was the team’s batting average leader in 6 of his 7 seasons as a starter. Only 12 players in Reds history posted higher career batting averages than Casey’s .305 mark. A 3-time National League All-Star, Casey was also the 1999 winner of Major League Baseball’s Hutch Award, was twice the recipient of the Reds’ Joe Nuxhall Good Guy Award and was the 2004 winner of the Reds’ Most Valuable Player Award.

Dan Driessen (First Baseman/Third Baseman, 1973-1984)

A versatile member of Cincinnati’s Big Red Machine clubs of the 1970s, Dan Driessen was signed by the Reds as an 18-year-old undrafted free agent in 1969. In his Major League debut season of 1973, Driessen’s .301 average helped propel the Reds to the Western Division title and earned him a third-place finish in National League Rookie of the Year voting. Over the next 3 seasons, Driessen excelled at multiple positions for Reds teams that averaged over 100 victories a year and won back-to-back World Championships in 1975 and 1976. In the 1976 World Series, Driessen became the first designated hitter in National League history and hit .357 in the Reds’ sweep of the Yankees. In 1977, Driessen became the Reds everyday first baseman and enjoyed his finest offensive season, batting .300 with 17 home runs, 91 RBI and 31 stolen bases. One of the finest defensive first basemen of his era, Driessen led the National League in fielding percentage 3 times and shares the Reds all-time single season record for fielding percentage at the position. A member of the Reds from 1973 to 1984, only 8 players in history have appeared in more games as a Red than Driessen.

John Reilly (First Baseman, 1883-1891)
The Reds’ starting first baseman from 1883 to 1891, John Reilly was the club’s leading hitter for most of the 1880s and paced the club in home runs, RBI and batting average with a .301 mark. At 6’3”, Reilly was tall for his era, earning him the moniker “Long John” years before he played his first professional game. A Cincinnati native, Reilly wore a Reds uniform for his 9-season   Major League career. Reilly held single-season Reds records in numerous offensive categories, including most doubles, triples, home runs, RBI and slugging percentage at multiple points in his career. When he retired after the 1891 season, Reilly held Reds records for most singles, double, triples, home runs, runs scored, RBI and games played. While all of these records have since been broken, Reilly remains 1 of only 4 players in Reds history to lead the league in home runs twice. Reilly died in Cincinnati on May 31, 1937 at the age of 78.

About the Reds Hall of Fame:
Established in 1958, The Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame is the oldest continually operating team Hall of Fame in all of baseball. The Reds Hall of Fame & Museum features 15,000 square feet of historical, interactive and educational exhibits, highlighting the rich and storied tradition of the Cincinnati Reds. The mission of the Reds Hall of Fame & Museum is to celebrate greatness, preserve history and provide inspiration.


Press conference audio used as a courtesy by &

Stuart Mason also contributed to the feature

SPORTS SPOTLIGHT: Johnny Bench, Pepsi MAX Field of Dreams Legend



Johnny Bench, Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame catcher ( photo)

When the Inaugural Pepsi MAX Field of Dreams Game came to town this past weekend, the MLB Legends team had Reds Hall of Fame catcher, Johnny Bench.

The 64-year-old looked as if he could still play the game. But he told us that the knees and back would not hold up.

Johnny Lee Bench was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on December 7, 1947 and grew up in Binger, Oklahoma.

Bench’s childhood dream was to become a major league baseball player and his father encouraged him to pursue the catching position would get him there quicker. Johnny listened to his dad and was selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the 1965 amateur draft.

It only took two short years in the minor leagues and Bench made the Reds roster for the 1968 season. Bench was on his way to a stellar career and would have celebrity status.

Johnny bench in the batting cage (photo by Dave Maetzold)

Johnny played for the Reds from 1967 to 1983 and his teammates would include Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, Bobby Tolan, Tony Perez, George Foster, Danny Driessen, Cesar Geronimo, Dave Concepcion and Ken Griffey, Sr. This group conprised the Big Red Machine, a team that dominated National League baseball in the 1970′s with their hitting, pitching, running and defense.

The Big Red Machine, under the direction of George Lee “Sparky” Anderson, won six division titles, four National League pennants, and two World Series titles in 1975 and 1976.

ESPN called Johnny the greatest catcher in baseball history.

A member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, voted in back in 1989 with 96.42 percent of the vote, Bench was a 14-time All-Star and a two-time NL Most Valuable Player.

His other career accomplishments include: a .267 batting average, with 389 home runs, 1,376 RBI’s, a 10-time Gold Glove award winner, 1968 NL Rookie of the Year, 1976 World Series MVP, 1976 Babe Ruth Award, 1975 Lou Gehrig Memorial Award, 1981 Hutch Award, Major League Baseball All-Century Team, Major League Baseball All-Time Team and his #5 Cincinnati Reds jersey retired in 1984.

The Sporting News dubbed him as the greatest catcher ever in 1998, when he was named the 16th greatest player of all time.

In 1980, Bench set the endurance record by catching 100 or more games for 13 straight seasons.


SPORTS SPOTLIGHT: Bradley Fenton, Mount Vernon’s inside force


Bradley Fenton cutting down nets (courtesy of Mount Vernon News)

( photo)

The Mount Vernon Yellow Jackets have a nice starting lineup of Nathan Miller, Riley Swanson, Seth Badger, Will O’Hara and Bradley Fenton.

In that group, the player who has to go up against taller players night-after-night, is the 6’3 Fenton.

Fenton holds his own every night and he is one of the reasons the Yellow Jackets are 15-6 heading into the district semifinal round.

Fenton is also a football player at Mount Vernon.

He is 6’3, 193 pounds and plays safety on the football field. He is undecided as of yet on a college.    

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Bradley Fenton as an imposing 6'3 safety in football (courtesy of Mount Vernon News)

It’s no wonder Fenton can handle the rugged play under the boards against taller and stronger players. It comes from his time on the football field as a ball-hawking safety.

The Yellow Jackets split with Olentangy Orange, Delaware and New Albany during the regular season. The other losses were to Lexington, Newark and Jonathan Alder. Not a slouch in the bunch. This team started out at o-2 and still won a championship.

They swept Franklin Heights, Hilliard Bradley, Watkins Memorial and Big Walnut. They also defeated Marion Harding, Central Crossing and Ashland.

Wherever he decides to go to college, Bradley Fenton will make someone a fine football and basketball player.







SPORTS SPOTLIGHT: Riley Swanson leading Mount Vernon’s state title efforts


Riley Swanson drives to basket (courtesy of Mount Vernon News)

The Mount Vernon Yellow Jackets showed last week in their game against Upper Arlington, that they are a force to be reckon with in the drive for the OHSAA Division I Championship.

The game pitted champions of the Ohio Capital Conference Central Division (Upper Arlington) and Mount Vernon of the OCC Capital Division.

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Trailing most of the game against the perimeter-oriented Polar Bears, the Yellow Jackets relied on their steady free throw shooting and reliable defense to hold the game close and then exploded in the fourth quarter to the tune of a 21-5 run to end up winning 53-42.

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One of the major reasons Mount Vernon won the game was the play of senior Riley Swanson.

The 5’11 guard scored 21 points, made 13-of-14 free throws in the game.

Mount Vernon incredibly made 17-of-20 free throws in the fourth quarter alone and 24-of-29 in the game. Who says that free throw shooting is a lost art in high school basketball? Not a problem for Mount Vernon.

Swanson says that he and the other seniors have worked hard for 4 years to have this type of season at 15-6 overall, 11-3 in the OCC Capital. They were an incredible 11-0 in conference play at their home known as the “Bee Hive”.

Mount Vernon practicing hard for a state title (

Against there closest competitors in the league, they split with both Olentangy Orange and New Albany.

Wednesday night, the Yellow Jackets play in the district semifinals against Columbus Walnut Ridge at 6:00 pm at the Reynoldsburg Summit Road Campus.

Riley and the rest of the Mount Vernon team are a force to be reckon with!

Tomorrow, a feature on Riley’s teammate, Brad Fenton.





SPORTS SPOTLIGHT FEATURE: Daxton Cates, Westerville South High School RB


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The Westerville South High School Wildcats always have a top-notch running back. Several years ago, there was Ki-jana Carter. Last year there was Jayshon Jackson, who broke all of Carter’s rushing records.

Jackson made tackles miss and grab air as he ran behind the offensive line. During the past two seasons, Jackson carried the ball 700 + times and surpassed 2,000-yards twice.

Westerville South High School

Jackson was only 5’8, 180-pounds but in 2010, he rushed for 2,583 yards and 23 touchdowns.

Jackson is playing this season at Grand Rapids Community College in Michigan.

After last season, Westerville South fans wondered who would fill the shoes of Jackson running the football. They probably forgot that there was a very capable back-up waiting in the wings named Daxton Cates.

Cates was very solid in 2010, rushing for 512 yards and 8 touchdowns on 92 carries.

South head football coach Rocky Pentello said all along that Cates was more than capable of being the next big-time running back for the Wildcats. And he has.

Cates is bigger than Jackson, at 5-feet-10, 215-pounds. He can run around and over tacklers on the field.

Westerville South Junior Varsity in action

Cates has picked up where Jackson left off. In Week 1 of the 2011 season against Groveport in a 47-18 win, the senior rushed for 229 yards on 17 carries and 2 touchdowns.

In week 2, a 27-14 loss at Dublin Coffman, Cates improved to 236 yards on 30 carries, an 88-yard TD run. He had 216 yards in the first half.

Week 3 at Grove City in a 41-34 loss, Cates carried the ball 31 times, gaining 217 yards with 2 TD’s.

In week 4 at the newest high school in town, Westerville Central, the Wildcats won 28-22 and Cates led the way with 158 yards rushing. He was on a pace to gain 1,000-yards by week 6 of the season.

The Wildcats running attack is in good hands once again!

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Westerville South is in one of the top conferences in the state of Ohio, the Ohio Capital Conference, Cardinal Division. The division has Dublin Jerome, Dublin Scioto, Marysville, Olentangy, Olentangy Liberty, Westerville Central and Westerville North. The Wildcats are the kingpins of the division winning the title in 2010 with a 9-3 record overall and a playoff berth. They were 6-1 in their league.

From all of the recruiting reports, Cates is receiving interest from Ohio University, Wisconsin, Akron, Saginaw Valley State, Bowling Green and Ohio State’s name has been mentioned as well.

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The name Cates is familiar around Westerville. His cousin, Wes Cates, was a standout running back at Westerville North and is a Hall of Famer at California University of Pennsylvania where he compiled 5,647 total yards.

We’d like to thank Westerville South head football coach Rocky Pentello for allowing us to watch practice, to take photos and talk to Daxton Cates.

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