Two of the most sacred Cincinnati traditions, a Super Bowl quarterback and a Reds Opening Day, meet next week at Great American Ball Park when Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow throws out the first pitch of the season Tuesday.
Bengals president Mike Brown, who still hero worships Bob Feller, counts reigning National League Rookie of the Year Jonathan India as one of his favorite all-time Reds and annually attends a handful of games at GAPB and watches many of the rest, enjoyed the news Tuesday from next door.
"It was a good gesture by the Reds. I personally appreciate it," Brown said. "To me, that's neat. I like the fact he's been invited to do it.
"I know he played basketball and was good at it. I don't know his baseball background. I wish I did."
Here you go, straight from one of his oldest and best teammates in football and basketball at Athens High School, former Ohio University tight end Adam Luehrman.
"Baseball was the big sport when we were younger. We played it the entire summer growing up." Luehrman said. "He stopped playing when we got to high school, but we played it every summer from the summer he moved there (second grade) until we were like 14. He was good. He could hit."
Just what you would expect, Mike.
Burrow hit third or fourth in the lineup. Played center, short and pitched. From what Luehrman can remember, Burrow's best pitch was a pretty good cutter. That makes sense since Luehrman says his buddy's favorite team growing up was Mariano Rivera's Yankees.
"He really didn't have a team, but he liked the Yankees and that really good team they had," said Luehrman, who followed the Reds and his favorite player, Adam Dunn. "We had a pretty good team in our league and travel ball. We were our top three pitchers. Him. Me. My brother (twin Ryan). We'd play all summer. We won a lot of tournaments."
The Reds are rolling out the orange-and-black carpet. Bengals head coach Zac Taylor is catching Burrow's pitch and NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Ja'Marr Chase is presenting India with the National League Rookie of the Year award..
"Cincinnati loves the tradition of Opening Day and what they have here is special," Brown said. "Baseball is an integral part of this town with a rich history. The people that live here certainly enjoy the game and I'm one of them."
Brown has been a baseball fan for a long time. When his father Paul Brown coached at the Great Lakes Naval Training Base during World War II, he was an eight-year-old batboy on a diamond where Feller, Cleveland's great right-hander, spent some time. Years later, when Brown was in Cincinnati, he got in line at a Feller book signing and got one of his biggest thrills when he introduced himself and told Feller he knew him at Great Lakes.
"Oh, you were our batboy," Feller told him.
One of Brown's favorite Reds was the late great Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan.
"He was a tremendous player," Brown said. "He came over here once and I got a chance to visit with him and I really enjoyed it."
Brown is a big fan of the current second baseman, India.
"They've got a lot of good athletes over there," Brown said. "He was really productive for them last year. I think they've got a long-term standout. He can run. He competes. He can hit. He would be on my list of favorite Reds. We have players like that. They have try hard. When you get one like that, you get what you want. They love to play and they're willing to play hard all the way."
Especially his quarterback turned ace for a pitch. Luehrman hasn't seen Burrow do it in about ten years, but he's got a pretty good idea how it's going to go.
"He'll be able to sling it in there pretty good," he said.