The Reds are in the middle a four-game series at home against division rival Houston Astros. If they win the series, they could capture first place in National League Central Division.
But even before the first pitch was thrown Friday night, 450,000 Cincinnati men, women and children already were winners, thanks to Reds majority owner Carl Lindner.
So far Lindner has given ticket vouchers to schoolchildren, nurses, firefighters, police officers and others as a way to say thank you.
Each voucher is accompanied by a message of encouragement, appreciation or acknowledgment from Lindner. The notes to schoolchildren are especially important as students get ready for summer vacation and graduation, and might be struggling or uncertain about their futures:
I have been very blessed in my life. While I wasn't fortunate enough to
go to college, you should know that I "study" every day of my life. I love
to learn and would encourage you to increase your knowledge in every way
- every day!
To show my family's appreciation for your hard work and to encourage you to work harder, I'm enclosing a gift of a voucher good for two tickets to a Cincinnati Reds baseball game this summer. Come early and encourage our Reds. Your support will help them have a winning season!
Lindner told the Enquirer that at first he wanted to send game passes to folks who had helped him while he was hospitalized. But the list evolved into hundreds of thousands of people.
Lindner has received scores of thank-you notes, from people such as a financially strapped family whose patriarch is dying of cancer, to a single mother thankful to be able to attend a game with her son.
Among the thousands of fans who packed Great American Ball Park this weekend are some who received free tickets from Lindner. In many cases, the gift's impact goes way beyond the game.
This feature appears on Mondays. Is there someone or something you have encountered that makes life better in Greater Cincinnati? Send your suggestions to Ray Cooklis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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