CINCINNATI - “Vote Votto” has been the battle cry for many Reds fans this week.
Many Reds fans showed up at Great American Ball Park on Wednesday to try and vote first baseman Joey Votto into the National League lineup for next week’s All-Star Game in Anaheim.
The Reds opened the Champions Club from noon until 2 p.m. so fans could vote for Votto plus American League slugger and Sycamore High School and University of Cincinnati graduate Kevin Youkilis of the Boston Red Sox. A free pizza lunch was included.
“We had over 200 people show up and vote hundreds of times,” said Michael Anderson of the Reds public relations staff. "At one point our wireless network was overloaded so we had to open up an additional wireless network
Tom Davis of College Hill was one of the Votto backers. He voted over and over and over.
"A couple of hundred times probably today -- not counting the other votes," he said.
Ohio U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown stopped by to vote even though he's a Cleveland Indians fan.
"I only voted for Joey Votto four times so I don't think there's anything unreasonable about that," Brown said.
The Virtual Vote For Votto Luncheon was the brainchild of Reds Assistant Media Relations Director Jaime Ramsey. The idea was hatched after Votto was initially snubbed for the All-Star team by Philadelphia Phillies Manager Charlie Manuel. The idea for the tie-in with Boston came from Lisa Braun in the Reds Marketing Department.
What began as a grass roots cyber effort has now exploded into a national public relations campaign backing both Votto and Youkilis. The story has been picked up by media outlets from coast to coast.
“I’ve had calls from the Toronto Sun (Votto’s home town newspaper) and San Diego," said Ramsey. "We have bloggers and newspapers up and down the East Coast and Boston covering the Votto thing along with our accord with Youkilis."
Votto leads the National League in home runs and is batting over .300 for the season, leaving Reds supporters scratching their heads over why he didn’t make the All-Star squad.
"The All-Star Game is supposed to be the best of the best and why is he not there if he has the stats to back it up," said Taylor Cole of Indian Hill.
"We're righting Charlie Manuel's wrongs," said Matt Lesser of Amberley. "It's an injustice -- not a grave injustice -- just an injustice."
"Baseball's a game of mistakes and errors and judgement calls," said Brown. "I think it was a bad judgement call by the National League manager, but that's the tradition of baseball and now we get a chance to fix it."
Amy Perry of Bridgetown brought her five-year-old son, A.J., with her to the virtual luncheon. He belted out "Vote Votto" on cue. She predicted Votto will be on the All-Star roster when voting ends at 4:00 p.m. Thursday.
"His fans, season ticket holders and Reds nation are just going to vote him in," she said. "We're going to get it done."
As of Wednesday afternoon, Votto was the top vote recipient in the National League, but Youkilis had slipped to second in American League balloting.
Voting ended at 4 p.m. Thursday.
Major League Baseball will announce the winners Thursday at 6 p.m.
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