01/28/2006 4:00 PM ET
Coffey pleased to revisit Dayton
Reliever greets fans with Reds Winter Caravan at affiliate city
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
DAYTON, Ohio -- As he worked his way up the organization, Reds reliever Todd Coffey spent the 2002 and 2003 seasons playing for the low Class A Dayton affiliate.
How much did Coffey enjoy the experience?
"I had great times. I love the people here," Coffey said. "My wife and I named our second daughter after the city -- Haley Elizabeth Dayton Coffey. It's a great city."
Imagine his excitement when he found out he was traveling through Dayton for the 2006 Reds Winter Caravan on Saturday.
"I didn't know we were coming to Dayton," he said. "When they told me I was going to Dayton, I was like, 'Yeah, I was there two years. I love it there.' "
Part of the troupe traveling around the region, Coffey appeared at Fricker's Restaurant with manager Jerry Narron, Reds Hall of Famer Lee May, Hall of Fame broadcaster Marty Brennaman and his partner, Steve Stewart.
Seated up on a stage in front of a packed house, the group participated in a Q&A session with Reds fans and signed autographs. There was a special display case of uniforms and memorabilia from the Reds Hall of Fame, and mascot Mr. Red milled about and joked around with everyone. A lucky fan was able to win two tickets to Opening Day in a raffle drawing.
The midday event began with everyone watching a video replay of last week's press conference that introduced new owner Bob Castellini.
Kelli Webb and her sister, Christi Fryman, are regular attendees of the annual caravan stop in Dayton, and they brought their kids to get autographs. But it was Castellini's involvement with the club that had them buzzing along with the others at Fricker's.
"They're a proactive management team, and they're making changes," said Webb, who is from West Carrolton, Ohio.
The Dayton stop was one of seven cities that are part of the Reds Winter Caravan's four-day tour. After leaving town, everyone was headed to Louisville for an evening event. On Sunday, the caravan will wrap up in the Blue Grass state, with visits in Ashland and Lexington. Outfielder Austin Kearns and Reds Hall of Famer Tom Browning will be making appearances.
Tom Fessler of Dayton brought his three young kids straight from soccer practice to see the Reds and get autographs. Although Fessler is a season ticket holder, it was his first caravan experience.
"I'm really surprised with the crowd," Fessler said. "I knew it would be good, but I didn't realize it was this big. I'm impressed."