CINCINNATI - “Vote Votto” has been the battle cry for many Redsfans this week.
Many Reds fans showed up at Great American Ball Park onWednesday to try and vote first baseman Joey Votto into theNational League lineup for next week’s All-Star Game inAnaheim.
The Reds opened the Champions Club from noon until 2 p.m.so fans could vote for Votto plus American League slugger andSycamore High School and University of Cincinnati graduate KevinYoukilis of the Boston Red Sox. A free pizza lunch was included.
“We had over 200 people show up and vote hundreds oftimes,” said Michael Anderson of the Reds public relationsstaff. "At one point our wireless network was overloaded sowe had to open up an additional wireless network
Tom Davis of College Hill was one of the Votto backers. Hevoted over and over and over.
"A couple of hundred times probably today -- not counting theother votes," he said.
Ohio U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown stopped by to vote even thoughhe's a Cleveland Indians fan.
"I only voted for Joey Votto four times so I don't think there'sanything unreasonable about that," Brown said.
The Virtual Vote For Votto Luncheon was the brainchild of RedsAssistant Media Relations Director Jaime Ramsey. The idea washatched after Votto was initially snubbed for the All-Star team byPhiladelphia Phillies Manager Charlie Manuel. The idea forthe tie-in with Boston came from Lisa Braun in the Reds MarketingDepartment.
What began as a grass roots cyber effort has now exploded into anational public relations campaign backing both Votto andYoukilis. The story has been picked up by media outlets fromcoast to coast.
“I’ve had calls from the Toronto Sun (Votto’shome town newspaper) and San Diego," said Ramsey. "We havebloggers and newspapers up and down the East Coast and Bostoncovering 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 headsover why he didn’t make the All-Star squad.
"The All-Star Game is supposed to be the best of the best andwhy is he not there if he has the stats to back it up," said TaylorCole of Indian Hill.
"We're righting Charlie Manuel's wrongs," said Matt Lesser ofAmberley. "It's an injustice -- not a grave injustice -- justan injustice."
"Baseball's a game of mistakes and errors and judgement calls,"said Brown. "I think it was a bad judgement call by theNational League manager, but that's the tradition of baseball andnow 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 rosterwhen voting ends at 4:00 p.m. Thursday.
"His fans, season ticket holders and Reds nation are just goingto vote him in," she said. "We're going to get it done."
As of Wednesday afternoon, Votto was the top vote recipient inthe National League, but Youkilis had slipped to second in AmericanLeague balloting.
Voting ended at 4 p.m. Thursday.
Major League Baseball will announce the winners Thursday at 6p.m.