Reds vs Indians Created a Favorite College Memory

Interleague Play has made it so Ohio’s two Major League baseball teams, the Cincinnati Reds and the Cleveland Indians, can play each other during the regular season. No matter what part of the state you live in, the annual meeting between the two teams creates vast interest and excitement.

Growing up in Cleveland, I fell in love with the Indians as the team became a Progressive (then Jacobs) Field powerhouse. With personalities like Carlos Baerga, Albert Belle, Jim Thome, Dennis Martinez, Orel Hershiser, Omar Vizquel and several others leading the team to the top of the American League Central, it was hard not to become a fan. This plus my grandfather’s love of the team made me a fan for life.

Having lived in Northeast Ohio for most of my life, I didn’t quite realize how devoted Cincinnati Reds fans are until I moved to Columbus to start college at Otterbein. I learned quickly that the Reds have an incredible fan base and I was asked numerous times if I was related to former Reds All-Star Chris Sabo. The only relation I have to a Chris Sabo is my mother (her name is Christine but she goes by Chris) but a lot of the fans I met grew up with the Reds in a similar fashion to how I grew up watching the Indians.

Out of all of the Reds fans I had met, one that stood out was a college classmate of mine named Stephanie. Even though Stephanie wasn’t from Cincinnati, she grew up close enough to be a huge Reds fan. She probably asked me at one point if I was related to Chris Sabo and had numerous stories of the players she watched growing up.

Despite our differences in baseball allegiance, the two of us became pretty good friends and constantly joked about our respective teams. She joked with me about being an Indians fan and I joked with her about being a Reds fan (I won’t go into the Browns vs Bengals debates we had in this column). She knew I was a die-hard Indians fan that would never root for the Reds and I knew pretty clearly I would never see her wearing an Indians shirt.

Interleague Play started that summer and with the Reds playing the Indians on the schedule, a bet was proposed. I don’t know whose idea it was (for some reason, I think it was mine) but it was decided that the loser of the series had to buy ice cream. Both of us watched and followed our respective teams closely and wondered who was going to have to pay for the trip up to Graeter’s, the local ice cream joint.

That summer, Stephanie had to buy once and I had to buy once so we were even. I wouldn’t be able to say the same for football season when we made the same bet with the Browns and the Bengals (I will save this story for another time and if you can guess, I did not fair too well by picking the Browns that year).

One summer later, the opportunity to make the bet came up again and Stephanie and I went ahead with it. I can’t remember who ended up buying this time around but all I can remember is how much fun the two of us had following that series. Even though there was money to be spent on the line, it was always fun hanging out with a friend when it was all said and done.

When Stephanie got married this past fall, one of the memories she mentioned of the two of us to her friends and family was how the two of us would bet ice cream. I couldn’t help but laugh when rehashing the stories but felt grateful that an Interleague rivalry created a great friendship.

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~ by jeffrsabo on June 11, 2012.

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