Cincinnati Reds fans know exactly what to do when “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” plays during the seventh-inning stretch. They stand and sway to the old-time melody.
But “Cotton-Eyed Joe” leaves most of them non-plused. These days, however, five Xavier students and alums, with pompoms and red uniforms, are there to show them how to dance to the popular old country folk tune—heel clicks and all. Erica Carey, a graduating senior, two juniors and two alums—all current or former members of the Xavier dance team—are members of the new Reds cheerleading squad. Their job is to get fans cheering.
They do that by leaping onto the dugouts where they dance to programmed music on the sound system. They dance on the field before games and run the bases after a win. They greet fans at the gate, deliver birthday greetings to fans in their seats and shoot T-shirts into the stands.
It’s a new tradition for the oldest game in America, one the Reds inaugurated last season. But the 15-member MDX Reds Crew got off to a rocky start, Carey says. Fans didn’t know what to do when they saw cheerleaders on top of the dugouts, and for awhile people called in to local radio talk shows to complain. That’s all changed, she says. “Last year, they’d look at us awkwardly, but now they look for us because they know we throw out T-shirts and things.” And because the girls cut a mean two-step to Carey’s favorite, “Cotton-Eyed Joe.”