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A new spin on old Reds traditions: How gameday will change in the wake of COVID-19

Great American Ball Park
Posted at 11:44 PM, Jul 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-24 10:53:11-04

CINCINNATI — You name the song, and John Shutte can play it -- but there’s one song he is best known for by Cincinnati sports fans: “Take Me Out to The Ballgame.”

Shutte is the man behind the keyboard at Great American Ball Park.

"A lot of things I do are between me and the crowd,” he said. “I work off them and they work off me. You don't really get that with just a recording."

Unfortunately, that will be one key difference this season. Shutte will not be at Reds games this season due to coronavirus pandemic restrictions.

"I think you can tell,” he said. “I think it makes a difference. It's a subtle difference. But I think people appreciate it."

Other Reds traditions will have to change due to the pandemic. For instance, even without fans in seats standing up to stretch, there will still be a seventh-inning stretch.

You might also be able to catch a glimpse of the mascots, and you'll definitely hear the celebratory fireworks.

If you listen close, you'll hear Joe-Z, the Reds’ PA announcer, who will be in the ball park as usual.

"There are times when the wind is right and everything is just right where I'll get a text, 'Hey I can hear ya!'" he said.

In a sport where the "human element" is a huge part of the experience, Joe-Z said it’s the mistakes that make the experience more authentic.

"I always make mistakes,” he joked. “You know it's real when the mistakes are in there."

And while there will be no crowd at Great American Ball Park, there will be Reds baseball games in 2020, and you can bet fans will find a way to be a part of it.

The Reds face the Detroit Tigers at 6:10 p.m. Friday.