The holiday season takes a beeline for Christmas shortly after that last helping of turkey is served on Thanksgiving night and while that almost always means frequent shopping trips for some or numerous online orders for others, what it most likely means to a majority of the country is that it is the season of giving. Being the most charitable nation in the world requires willing and eager participants to come up with an almost overflowing stream of donations.
While the overwhelming majority of monetary donations come from individuals, a non-trivial amount does come from corporations, foundations and funds. One such fund is, of course, the Reds Community Fund which works mostly on baseball outreach programs in and around Cincinnati. And it wasn’t too long ago that they christened a new field and statue that is a great pride to the community in which it resides.
While many people spent the Friday after Thanksgiving standing in lines that wrapped through, around and behind their nearest retail store trying to score that great deal and help businesses find their way into the black of the ledger book, Reds fans will soon be sharing in that activity by waiting in queues scattered all throughout the Duke Energy Center during Redsfest. What is obscured by this grandiose display of all things Cincinnati Reds is that the profits from these events go to the Reds Community Fund, which in turn goes out to many different programs.
One such program involved the honoring and christening a field for the late lefthander and beloved Red Joe Nuxhall. Nuxy, affectionately known to his friends, family and fans, is probably best known in the Reds organization as the radio partner of Marty Brennaman. Residents of Fairfield and his home town of Hamilton know him for the time he spent with the Reds but more likely, they know him as an exceedingly fine gentleman and a kind man. With his son Kim Nuxhall teaching in the school district for many years and the proximity to Hamilton, the town of Fairfield adopted the old lefthander and there wasn’t a weekend that went by when the residents of both towns didn’t pull through Joyce Park in Faifield and Hamilton and see the signs for Joe Nuxhall Golf Center.
In June of 2010, Nuxy received an honor near his hometown and in the town that has adopted him as their own. Right down the street from Joyce Park is Waterworks Park, the Fairfield Youth Baseball Association’s wonderful baseball facility and home of one location of the Cincinnati Reds Rookie Success League, a summer baseball camp sponsored, once again, by the Reds Community Fund. That morning in June, Marty Brennaman, members of the Community Fund, his son Kim, the mayor of Fairfield and other community leaders spoke right across from Joe Nuxhall Pavilion and lathered on anecdotes about how great a man Joe Nuxhall was in life and how the dedication of the inconspicuously named Field No. 7 as the new “Marty and Joe Field” would honor him after his passing.
Children of the Reds’ baseball camp and Reds’ fans alike sat in the bleachers or stood to the side of the podium and listened intently as speaker after speaker attested to how much Joe meant to his friends, his family, the Reds, and to his community especially. What went mostly unmentioned was that while Joe’s son Kim had played at Waterworks on Field No. 7 as a kid, Nuxy would occasionally catch a few games his son pitched. He’d stand behind the fence that surrounded home plate and watch his son perform, admiring how that love of baseball had carried through to the next generation of Nuxhall.
A few feet more from where Nuxy once stood, there now stands his statue, dedicated in honor of Joe a year before the field. There it remains still today, a ghost from the past, clad in his Reds uniform, sandwiched between two children as he shows them how to keep their elbow elevated and to rotate their arm while throwing. As parents hustle through the park to reach their kids’ games on time, they pass by Joe’s statue and much like a memory, the statue is a comforting thought: that Joe is there watching over the children of baseball’s future. And when the children strap on their spikes and walk inside those white lines on Marty and Joe’s diamond, they can know that they’ll be playing for the eyes of a legend, still standing there behind home plate, catching the action from the corner of his eye.
And in the tradition of Joe and the general nature of the season, the Reds Community Fund continues to give back even today. Recalling the richness of their franchise, their outreach efforts are spectacular and money is often raised in spectacular fashion, like Redsfest this weekend at the Duke Energy Center. While not every ticket, memorabilia, or article of clothing purchased by a Reds fan will have the most altruistic sense of charitable giving, it’s a great thing to know that at least the Reds Community Fund is making sure that it’s paid forward. And while it may have seemed obscene for people to stand in line for hours to get that perfect gift for that special someone on Black Friday, don’t hold the same hesitation when it comes to spending hours in line this weekend down at Redsfest. Much like those people shopping to find that memorable Christmas gift, the Reds Community Fund will make sure that with the money you spend, someone will be receiving and that the gift will be memorable.