Sue Castellini sat in the front row, the closest possible seat to where her husband would be introduced. She was dressed in all red, a shade that was almost as bright as her constant smile.
All around her was a crowd perhaps better fit for a roast than a press conference, as many of Cincinnati's business elite and the Cincinnati Reds' past and present gathered in the 4192 Dining Room at Great American Ball Park on Friday to meet and celebrate the Reds' new ownership.
Shortly before 4 p.m., with the lights bright and the television stations prepared to go live, Robert Castellini was ushered to the small stage with new ownership partners W. Joseph and Thomas L. Williams. Castellini, the Reds' new controlling owner and chief executive officer, looked commanding in a gray pin-striped suit and a tie featuring Reds logos inside red and gray diagonal stripes.
Longtime Reds broadcaster Marty Brennaman did the introduction, and Castellini began his speech.
"We will bring championship baseball to Cincinnati," Castellini said in his steady, hearty voice as part of his 11-minute, 37-second opening address. The declaration brought applause from the crowded room usually used a food and drink stop for upscale Reds customers.
On Thursday, Major League Baseball's owners approved a deal that gave Castellini, the Williams brothers and the rest of his ownership group control of about 70 percent of the club, which cost them approximately $270 million.
Castellini, a Cincinnati native and president of fruit and vegetable wholesaler Castellini Co., replaced Cincinnati businessman Carl H. Lindner as CEO, a title he had held since 1999.
During his 35-minute meeting with the media, Castellini promised to make every effort to improve the Reds immediately after five straight losing seasons, look for better pitching and work diligently inside GAPB, where Lindner was rarely seen. The three new owners were presented with Reds jerseys that included their names on the back with the number "06."
"Look," Castellini said, placing his hands on the front of the podium. "If all the stars line up right, we're going to have a pitching staff that's a lot better than it was last year. St. Louis had no idea Chris Carpenter would come off rehab and become the Cy Young Award winner. We've got two or three instances like that on our pitching staff.
"We're looking at the cup half full. We're not pie in the sky, but we feel like we're going to do better than people think we're going to do. And we're trying to improve the team, especially in the pitching area, as we speak. Whether that's going to happen or not, I don't have the answer."
Behind Castellini, the Williams brothers listened. Joe Williams had entered the room with a bright red sport coat accompanied by a blue tie with Reds logos within. His wife, Judy, sat in the crowd with a red Cincinnati cap that sparkled inside the white wishbone "C."
"We're excited, but we're not celebrating," Tom Williams said at the podium. "And we're not going to celebrate until the fans tell us it's time. We're going to work tirelessly and endlessly until we bring championship baseball back to Cincinnati."
Following the question-and-answer session, Castellini — whose gray hair is fighting white, or maybe vice versa — went off for photos and encouragement as many of the guests retired to the Riverfront Club for refreshments.
Former Reds slugger George Foster mingled with Joe Nuxhall. Bengals color radio announcer Dave Lapham shook hands. Chris Sabo, the former Reds third baseball, practiced his golf swing.
There was plenty of Reds history involved on Friday, with large championship banners hanging from the walls and memorable faces around.
Just as Castellini says he wants.
About 20 minutes after the press conference ended, and after he had circled the large room taking congratulations and looking into television cameras, Castellini sat in a chair on the small stage and looked out at a huddle of reporters.
After a few questions pertaining to how he would structure his organization or moves he would make, he looked down, and his voice showed its first sign of fatigue.
"This is our first day," Castellini said with his big hands folded in front of him and his soft blue eyes looking downward. "This is our first day."