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Record crowd, and marriage proposal, greets Reds Caravan

On Sunday, before the last stop on the northern leg of the Reds Caravan, the first cars pulled into the Museum of the United States Air Force parking lot at 6 a.m., right behind the cleaning crews. Fans lined up in the bitter cold a full four hours before the event started. At other stops a woman fainted and girls cried in the presence of Reds all-star second baseman Brandon Phillips. On Sunday, he received a marriage proposal.

No wonder Hall of Fame Reds broadcaster Marty Brennaman dubbed the northern leg the Rock Star Tour.

More than 2,000 fans packed the museum’s Modern Flight Gallery to celebrate the Cincinnati Reds, setting a single-stop Caravan record. More than 1,000 fans greeted them at stops in Lima and Columbus on Saturday — also records for those sites.

“This is what it’s all about,” said Phillips, his group’s biggest draw. “It’s all about giving back to the fans and letting them get to know us players as normal people. That’s what I love about going on these caravans, especially coming to Dayton. I don’t know about all the other tours, but I know they love us.

“It really shows how much support and how big Reds Country really is.”

Along with Phillips and Brennaman, the group also included president and CEO Bob Castellini, assistant GM Bob Miller, former first baseman and Dayton Dragons manager Todd Benzinger, minor league catcher Tucker Barnhart, broadcaster Chris Welch and mascots Mr. Red and Gapper.

A question-and-answer session preceded an autograph session. It was just a few minutes into the Q&A that Phillips received his proposal.

“Will you please marry my daughter,” Caravan emcee Brennaman read from a submitted question.

Like the three-time Gold Glove winner he is, Phillips fielded it flawlessly.

“Where she at? What up, girl?” Phillips said, scanning the crowd for the daughter and flashing that winning smile. “It just depends on what she brings to the table.”

“Are you done?” Brennaman deadpanned.

Phillips shouldn’t have been surprised by the offer, if he was, especially after visits to other stops.

“It was crazy. There were some girls crying and one person fainted on me,” Phillips said, clarifying that it wasn’t an attempt to fall on top of him. “They didn’t fall on me. They fell on the floor.”

Brennaman fielded the obligatory question about Pete Rose and his Hall of Fame chances.

“If they’re going to allow people like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens (to get in), obviously they’re on the ballot and Pete’s not, then they’ve got to leave room for Pete Rose,” he said.

With the success of Sunday’s stop, Brennaman advocated making the Air Force museum the northern tour’s final stop every year.

“We don’t need to go into talking about how important the Dayton market and the surrounding areas are to this ball club,” Brennaman said. “Dayton has always been synonymous with Cincinnati in terms of Reds baseball.”

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