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03/17/10 4:15 PM ET
Reds great Bench part of plans for opener
Hall of Famer grand marshal of parade, will catch Grande
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Arguably the greatest catcher of all-time will be the grand marshal during one of Cincinnati's greatest traditions -- the 91st Findlay Market Opening Day Parade. The Reds revealed their plans for Opening Day on Wednesday, and announced that not only would Hall of Famer Johnny Bench be leading the parade, he will also serve as honorary captain and catch the ceremonial first pitch. Opening Day is scheduled for April 5 at Great American Ball Park when the Reds will play the Cardinals at 1:10 p.m. ET. Because of its status as baseball's oldest professional franchise in 1869, Cincinnati gets the honor of getting to open at home each season. Also part of the Findlay Market Parade will be Reds pitcher Bronson Arroyo, who will ride on one of the floats. The ceremonial first pitch will be thrown by George Grande, who stepped down as the main Reds television play-by-play voice after 17 years at the end of last season. Grande is scheduled to return to the booth in September for a few games. In other pregame activities, recording artist and former Bengals and Colts tight end Ben Utecht will sing the national anthem. While Utecht sings, Haiti earthquake relief volunteers from the American Red Cross and Matthew 25: Ministries will hold a giant American flag in the outfield. Four F-16 jets from the 178th Fighter Wing of the Ohio Air National Guard based in Springfield, Ohio, will perform a flyover. Miss Ohio USA 2010 Amanda Tempel will deliver the official game ball to the mound. Saxophonist Elan Trotman will perform God Bless America during the seventh-inning stretch. There will be pregame concerts at the ballpark, with The Goshorn Brothers and Pete Wagner Dixieland Band performing. Gates at Great American Ball Park are scheduled to open at 11:10 a.m.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.