Joey Votto's playing season may be over, but he's not far from the ballpark.
The Cincinnati Reds' longtime first baseman was at Great American Ball Park for the team's Sept. 21 win against the Boston Red Sox. He wasn't in the dugout or the broadcast booth, though. Instead, Votto sat among fans – regular people who likely weren't making $25 million per year.
In a video posted to Instagram, a fully bearded Votto sports a Barry Larkin jersey as he makes his way along the first-level concourse to section 141 in right field. "Now we're talking," he says to somebody following behind him. As Votto crosses the threshold into the park, he beams at the field and says, "Oh my gosh, yes." A nearby fan jokingly says that Votto should become the Reds' new left fielder. An usher gives Votto a friendly shoulder jab, and fans excitedly greet him.
Seats in section 141 are running about $30-$40 for the Sept. 22-25 series against the Milwaukee Brewers.
In a longer video that Major League Baseball posted to YouTube, Votto poses for photos in the seats and makes the rounds throughout the section.
"Joey Votto, since getting honored on the field for giving back to the community, has just been milling about the ballpark, shaking hands, smiling, taking pictures in a Barry Larkin jersey," Reds broadcaster John Sadak tells Larkin, who also was in the booth.
"What is wrong with that guy?" Larkin laughs.
"He's making friends," Sadak replies.
Votto eventually joins Larkin and Sadak, sharing that he'd wanted to wander as a fan of the game and in appreciation for Reds supporters.
"Most people weren't happy to see me. They were just complimenting the jersey," Votto quips during the broadcast. "They were just so excited to see me in a Larkin jersey. Covering up the dad bod? Absolutely, yes."
Votto says that the Larkin jersey belonged to catcher Tyler Stephenson, noting that Larkin had autographed it.
"Not long ago, you signed it for him. And, I don't know, I felt a real pep in my step wearing this jersey and took a little tour like I said of the stadium," Votto says. "It was such a great experience. So many great places to sit here. It's a beautiful night. I don't know. I don't know why I did it. But I started it just hoping to say hello. And then I ended up going around the entire stadium. Full experience."
Votto was honored before the game as the Reds' nominee for the 2022 Roberto Clemente Award, which is "bestowed annually to the player who best represents the game of Baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field," according to MLB materials. Fans can vote for Votto to receive the award through Oct. 5.
Votto hasn't played since having rotator cuff surgery Aug. 19. He is expected to be healed in time for spring training and the start of the 2023 season. The Cincinnati Reds were eliminated from postseason contention earlier this month.
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