Special to The Voice-Tribune
To honor the franchise’s more than 30 years of baseball in the River City, the Louisville Bats are hosting a Redbirds reunion on Saturday, July 7 during its 6:05 p.m. game with the Toledo Mud Hens. Fans will be able to enjoy the team wearing throwback Redbirds jerseys and hats from 1982. Posters commemorating the event will be distributed at the gates.
Several Redbirds alumni will make the trip back to Louisville to join the festivities. Bill Lyons (’82-‘88), the franchise’s all-time leader in games played and runs scored, highlights the returning players. Lyons is also well known for playing all nine positions in his final game as a Redbird. Tracy Woodson (’92, ’94, ‘95), current head baseball coach at Valparaiso University and Team MVP of the Redbirds during their 1995 championship campaign, will also be in attendance.
Some of the former Redbirds will be joining the party from their respective dugouts. Current Bats manager David Bell (’95-‘97) and pitching coach Ted Power (‘89) will be honored along with Mud Hens hitting coach Leon Durham (‘89) and scout Gene Roof (’82-‘85). Bell is in his first season as manager of the Bats and Power is in his seventh as pitching coach. Fans may recognize Durham from his role as “Leon Alexander” in the 1994 film Little Big League.
Since 1982, the Louisville Bats Baseball Club has been a mainstay on the Louisville sports scene, regularly drawing an attendance at or near the top in all of Minor League Baseball. They hosted the Triple-A All-Star Game in 1991 and 2008, becoming just the second franchise to host the game twice. The team won three American Association Championships between 1982 and 1997 and has won one International League Championship since joining the league in 1998.
Louisville’s boys of summer, however, have not always been called the Bats. From 1999 to 2001 the team was known as the RiverBats and from 1982 to 1998, of course, they were known as the Redbirds. The initial change from Redbirds to RiverBats came to make sense of the team’s switch in affiliation from the St. Louis Cardinals to the Milwaukee Brewers.
Since 2000, the franchise has been affiliated with the Cincinnati Reds and has played its home games at Louisville Slugger Field. The connection with the Reds has worked out well for both clubs with the shared fan base and just a 99-mile separation between facilities. Many of the Reds’ current stars, including Joey Votto (‘07), Jay Bruce (’07, ’08) and Aroldis Chapman (’10), tore up the IL before doing the same to the NL with the Reds.
The Redbirds reunion night highlights a busy July where the Bats will play 18 home games. For one night on Saturday, July 7, fans once again can go back to relive the days when baseball first returned to Louisville and see their baseball team draped in Redbirds jerseys and caps while taking home a piece of history with their commemorative poster. You can call the Bats’ ticket office at 212-BATS to purchase your tickets while they are still available.