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01/29/11 3:54 PM EST
Reds Caravan stops at Air Force museum
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
DAYTON, Ohio -- Reds manager Dusty Baker continually reveals that his interests in life often stretch beyond baseball, and on Saturday during a Reds Caravan stop, he couldn't help but look around. The northern leg of the Caravan stopped at the National Museum of the United States Air Force on Saturday, at Dayton's Wright-Patterson Air Force base. The Caravan podium was in a giant hangar among the impressive collection of aircraft and historical exhibits. The Air Force museum is the oldest aviation museum in the world, and with about 400 aerospace vehicles, it's also the largest. It's open 362 days a year and offers free admission and parking. As the Reds contingent gathered in the modern aircraft portion of the museum, Baker walked around before the group took the stage and was thoroughly impressed by the giant aircraft before him and the stories behind them. "I remember a lot of this talking to my Dad about World War II," he said. "My Dad was in the Navy. I was around in the Vietnam era." More than 500 fans attended the Caravan stop to see Baker, president/CEO Bob Castellini, Hall of Famer Joe Morgan, pitcher Homer Bailey, broadcaster Chris Welsh and prospect Todd Frazier. "It's kind of neat because it's one of those things that are building up to the season," Bailey said. "With these events, you know the season is right around the corner. It's a prologue for getting ready for the season." Before the fans lined up for autographs, there was a question-and-answer session for the guests on stage. One of the more pointed questions was directed at Castellini from a young fan. "Why did you trade Josh Hamilton?" asked the boy. "That's a very good question," replied Castellini. In December 2007, Cincinnati dealt Hamilton after his successful rookie year to the Rangers for pitcher Edinson Volquez. Hamilton won the American League Most Valuable Player Award in 2010. Volquez was an All-Star and 17-game winner in 2008, but was out with an elbow injury most of 2009 and half of 2010. "The Rangers felt it was a win-win, and until [Volquez] had that injury, we felt like it was a win-win," Castellini said. "This year, we think it's going to be proven to be a win-win. We think Volquez is going to be very important for this franchise this year and the years to come." The northern leg of the Caravan started Thursday and has made stops in Athens, Ohio, and Parkersburg W.Va. "It's great when you get all the fans coming," Frazier said. "The support is awesome. We've been to like 12 stops now and everybody has been so nice. The questions have been great. We had some funny questions at an elementary school the other day. Dusty made me sing a little Frank Sinatra. It's been entertaining and, at the same time, fun." After Dayton, the tour was scheduled to hit Lima, Ohio, later on Saturday and wrap it up on Sunday in Columbus. "It's been good and the attitudes have been great," Baker said. "The response of the people has been very positive. It makes you feel good going into this year when you see how important winning is, especially to the lives of people. You can see it really gives them a sense of pride and joy to be a Reds fan."