March 24, 2023
Dr. Tim Kremchek gets chills when remembering his first Opening Day as the Cincinnati Reds team physician. More than a quarter-century later, Dr. Kremchek still revels in the thrill of Opening Day. But experience has taught him that one game does not make a season.
“It was 27 years ago, but it seems like yesterday,” Dr. Kremchek recalled. He accompanied the team back home from Spring Break and Reds fans greeted the plane when they got back to town. “And there I was at Cinergy Field with Barry Larkin, Hal Morris, Bret Boone. It was incredible.”
Knowing the whole city was fired up,he got to the ballpark four hours early. He watched the players get ready. “My son Teddy, who was only two years old at the time, was in the locker room with me. My family was in the stands,” he continued. “I was 34 and my dream had come true.”
“There is nothing like Opening Day in Cincinnati,” Dr. Kremchek said. “The anticipation, the parade, the pre-game fun and festivities, the packed bars and restaurants, all of the activities at the ballpark, then the game is played – it is all part of a great Cincinnati tradition.
“But you have to remember, this is just one game out of 162,” he said. “Some guys may not play due to injuries, or they are recovering from an injury and may not play because the management is planning for the next 161 games. The players all want to play. But in some cases, it makes much more sense to ease them into the season, especially if they aren’t 100 percent. The hope is that they can play as many games as possible during the season.”
As he has done for the last 27 years, Dr. Kremchek spent time with the Reds during spring training in Goodyear, AZ. This gave him a vantage point that few (if any) fans get to enjoy. But enjoy it, he does.
“This is going to be a fun team to watch,” he said. “The pitching is going to be good, and there are a lot of terrific, young guys who are developing and who want to make an impact. They are hungry.”
When asked about the biggest change in spring training today compared to when he began caring for the Reds in 1996, Dr. Kremchek doesn’t hesitate when answering.
“The condition of the players is easily the biggest difference,” he said. “They used to come to spring training to get in shape. Now, they show up in great shape and are ready to go.”