Cincinnati Reds clinic kicks off

VIENNA — The 24th Annual Cincinnati Reds Legends Baseball Clinic is set to kick off Monday morning at a brand new location but with some very familiar faces.

Former Cincinnati Reds players Leo “Chico” Cardenas, Ron Oester, Todd Benzinger, Scott Willamson, Herm Winningham and Stephen Larkin are scheduled to be instructors at this year’s camp which will be held for the very first time through Wednesday at The Vienna Recreation Sports Complex at Jackson Park.

Camp director Mike Wagner and his staff will use the same strategy that has made the Reds camp a mainstay in the area for nearly a quarter of a century.

“We try to teach these kids all the fundamentals they will need to become good ballplayers but in a fun way,” said Wagner. “Nobody is going to come to any three-day camp and leave a great ballplayer, but they can learn how to practice the right things that will lead them to eventually becoming great players.”

Cardenas, a former Gold Glove winner at shortstop, spent nine years of a 16-year major league career in Cincinnati and will be making his 21st appearance at the camp.

“I believe Leo is 78 years old but he brings a great energy to this camp year in and year out,” said Wagner of Cardenas, who was selected to five all-star teams and won his Gold Glove in 1965 with the Reds. “He is truly one of a kind and you will never meet a more generous and down to earth person.”

Oester, Benzinger and Winningham were all members of the last Cincinnati team to win a championship back in 1990.

Benzinger batted .257 and slugged 66 home runs in a nine-year major league career while Oester batted .265 in 13 years, all with the Reds.

Oester was inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame in 2014.

Winningham spent four years as a back-up outfielder for the Reds and stole 105 bases in his nine-year big league career.

Larkin is the brother of Barry Larkin, and played briefly for Cincinnati in 1998 after playing in the College World Series for Texas in 1992 and 1993.

Williamson will work with the pitchers in camp after earning Rookie-of-the Year honors for the Reds back in 1999 when he went 12-7 with a stellar 2.41 earned run average while also notching 19 saves.

Last season marked the first year where the camp was also offered to softball players and Wagner has seen the number of girls scheduled to be in camp increase from 20 last season to potentially 70 this year.

Marietta College assistant coach Jenn Castle will be on hand to work with the young softball pitchers in camp.

‘We have been pleasantly surprised with the amount of girls that have signed up for this year’s camp,” said Wagner. “There are not as many as there are boys but they are not very far off.”

Weather can always be an issue for the camp but Wagner is hoping for a pleasant three days of camp.

We are looking forward to another great week of camp and hopefully the Lord blesses us with another year of sun,” said Wagner. “We hope that each child will walk away with a memory that will last them a lifetime.”

Cardenas is scheduled to be at camp all three days while Winninghan is slated for Monday only.

Both Benzinger and Larkin are expected to attend Monday and Tuesday while Oester and Williamson will be on hand Tuesday and Wednesday.

Gapper, the Reds furry mascot, is scheduled to be on hand for Tuesday’s activities.