Three days after the shooting in Dayton, Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto wore a hat with the word “Dayton” written through a heart on the front during a game against the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday at Great American Ball Park.
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Votto played for the Single-A Dayton Dragons in 2003, his second season in pro baseball, and again in 2004. He raised his average from .231 in his first season there to .302 in his second season.
Votto is one of a number of current Reds who played in Dayton. The team also includes bench coach Freddie Benavides, the first manager of the Dragons in 2000. After an 8-4 victory against the Angels on Tuesday, Benavides, who was filling in for suspended manager David Bell, said the shooting hit close to home for him.
“It’s really sad,” Benavides said, “and we’re all praying for them.”
Votto also did rehab stints after injuries with the Dragons in 2009 and 2012.
“This is one of the most special places for baseball in all of the minor leagues and maybe all of professional baseball,” Votto said in 2012. “I continue to be astonished at how good the conditions are here. The grounds crew does an amazing job and the fan base turns out in droves. It’s a great place to play.”
Ten people, including the gunman, were killed early Sunday morning outside Ned Pepper’s bar in the Oregon District. The Oregon District is less than a mile from Fifth Third Field, where Votto played with the Dragons.
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