Piniella front and center for Opening Day in Cincy

Piniella front and center for Opening Day in Cincy

CINCINNATI -- When a team is celebrating its 140th Opening Day, as the Reds did on Monday before playing the Phillies, you lean heavily on history, tradition, pomp and circumstance.

As the manager of the 1990 World Series champion Reds, Lou Piniella played a large role. Piniella bookended Monday's festivities as he served as grand marshal of the 97th Findlay Market Opening Day Parade. Just before game time, Piniella was also given the additional honor of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch to one of his former players, current third-base coach Billy Hatcher.

"Humbling. Probably the most humbling experience of my life," Piniella said of being in the parade. "I'm so appreciative of the response from the city of Cincinnati, and I'm very, very appreciative to have been given the opportunity."

Piniella, who managed Cincinnati from 1990-92, was hired in the offseason to be a baseball operations adviser. He will be available to counsel Reds manager Bryan Price, his former pitching coach with the Mariners from 2000-02.

Piniella throws out first pitch

"It's great," Price said of Piniella being front and center on Monday. "It was a relationship I not only enjoyed, but I learned so much from Lou. When he left to go to Tampa, it was a big loss for me, because he was a mentor and a friend. He is a bigger-than-life character in my life."

Reds pitchers Brandon Finnegan and Alfredo Simon rode in a car during the parade. Finnegan was thrilled by the experience, and he marveled at the reception the players received along the parade route.

"It was awesome, especially with my first time here," Finnegan said. "You always hear about how crazy it is here, but today, I got to witness it. It was pretty sick. There were a ton of fans, just miles and miles of fans. You really saw how much Cincinnati loves its baseball team today."

So much more also happened both inside and outside of Great American Ball Park on Monday.

• The Reds Community Fund hosted the fifth annual Opening Day block party on the streets of The Banks neighborhood adjacent to the stadium. Proceeds from the party benefited the P&G MLB Urban Youth Academy.

• The Rosie Reds support club continued its tradition of presenting Opening Day plaques to the team's managers -- Price and Phillies skipper Pete Mackanin. Findlay Market merchants also followed their tradition of presenting a basket of items to Price.

• A military appreciation ceremony honored veterans and active duty service members, with Congressman Brad Wenstrup part of the moment.

Vets honored on Opening Day

• There was a moment of silence to honor Jeff Barton, Charles "Whip" Davis, Eddie Milner, Jim O'Toole and Bernie Stowe, as well as other members of the Reds' family who died during the past offseason.

• Former Reds left fielder Greg Vaughn served as the game's honorary captain. Vaughn was part of the 1999 Reds club that missed out on the postseason by losing a Game 163 tiebreaker vs. the Mets.

VanHoose sings national anthem

• Marlana VanHoose from Denver, Ky., sang another stirring rendition of the national anthem. VanHoose sang the anthem for Opening Day 2015, as well as the 2015 MLB Home Run Derby at Great American Ball Park. It included a flyover by E-2C Hawkeye and E-2D Hawkeye planes from the VAW-120 "Greyhawks" Squadron, located at the US Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, Va.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.