Back in 2010, the Cincinnati Reds moved spring training from Florida to Arizona, and I had full media access. After the first workout I attended, Media Relations Director Rob Butcher invited me to stop by his office to discuss my impressions. I told him one thing, that team leadership was firmly controlled by third baseman Scott Rolen who came to the team during the 2009 campaign. “He leads by example and will quietly correct anyone who just goes through the motions,” I relayed.
On that gorgeous Saturday, I saw Rolen hustle throughout and lead the baserunning sprints that ended the workout. During bunting practice, he told his small group that bunting was important, then stepped in to lay down a few beauties. When slugger Joey Votto took his turn and offered at two bad pitches, Rolen moved closer to say, “Not a strike in the game and not a strike here. Let’s go, Joey.” I was next to the cage and heard it all. What a leader by example at age 35.
“We need this guy’s professional presence,” said General Manager Walt Jocketty when trading for the third sacker at a time when a talented team needed a nudge to get over the top. Though the Reds didn’t get to a World Series, they did win a division and make the playoffs twice during Rolen’s three full seasons in Cincinnati that included a pair of All-star appearances and a Gold Glove.
He retired after 2012 and has recently gained momentum toward Hall of Fame election by the baseball writers. He got above 63 percent in 2022 and needs to get to 75% for induction by this group. The ballot is not crowded for next week’s election announcement and Rolen discussion is widespread.
The southern Indiana native was a solid hitter, fabulous defender, intense competitor, and complete ballplayer. He was a Rookie of the Year in 1997, won eight Gold Gloves, and made seven All-star appearances while batting .281 with 2077 hits, 316 homers, and 1287 RBI. Comparisons with his third base Hall of Fame peer group are more than favorable.
If he gets elected, my thoughts will revert to what I experienced in Goodyear, Arizona back in late February of 2010. Scott Rolen deserves a place in Cooperstown.
This past long holiday weekend was a busy one at Fort Loramie High School. On Saturday, the 2013 girls team returned to be honored for winning the school’s initial girls state basketball title. The trophy was re-presented by retired OHSAA administrator Jerry Snodgrass, who originally handled those duties. A video was shown of that 2013 ceremony. Then the current team successfully entertained New Bremen.
Sunday was the second annual Fort Loramie MLK Classic which spotlighted a dozen boys teams from both the area and around Ohio. Attendance was up sharply from a year ago and fans were treated to some fine basketball. This event now has major momentum headed toward the 2024 renewal.
I recently spoke to the Sidney Rotary Club, which I’ve been doing since 1974. In 2024 I’ll be sure to go there in October to mark the 50th anniversary of my first visit. I’m also a regular at the local Kiwanis Club. I truly enjoy those sessions.
It’s worth noting that I was terrified of speaking in front of a group when I made that 1974 debut at Burks Banquet House, behind the current Motel 6. About 80 Rotarians attended that day.
Sports Extra appears each Friday. Dave Ross has worked in local sports media since 1975.