Man makes 48th consecutive Reds home opener

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - FOX19 spent the day with a man who is a die-hard fan. Thursday was the 48th consecutive opening day game he has attended.

Tony Chitwood Sr. has been coming to Reds games since he was 5 years old. He even made it back from service in Iraq to keep that streak going.

He's retired from the Air Force now and was happy to share this 48th day with his youngest son, Thomas.

For the Chitwoods, opening day traditions run deep.

"When I was 5 years old, I had an Uncle Gene, who lived in Westwood and we lived in Hartwell here in Cincinnati and he started taking me to Reds games then," said Chitwood. "So my first opening day when I was 5 years old."

Amazingly, this Air Force veteran and father of four has never missed an opening day since.

"My girl's favorite game was one year I left for Saudi Arabia," he said. "I didn't think I was going to make the game, and I got to come back because they had plane failure in Germany, and came back took the girls, showed up at their school unannounced, took them, came down here to the game, it was quite a game."

His son Thomas, like many people, played hooky for opening day.

"The University of Tennessee," his son laughed. "I actually skipped class. What class are you missing right now? Probably sociology."

Thomas has been coming since he was two and this was his 17th home opener.

And they also have a 20-year tradition every opener, of hitting Koch's Sporting Goods on 4th Street, and getting some new Reds gear to wear.

"I got a knit hat and Tom got a Reds cap and I got this jacket from Koch's probably 3 or 4 years ago," Chitwood said.

"The knit cap's because it's cold, " Chitwood said. "This is pretty nice for opening day, we've been here weather in the 20's, rainy, we've had sleet rain, snow, all in the same game before."

"Do you think Koch's realizes you guys have been there that many years?," we asked. "Do they know your face?"

"No," he laughed. "I don't think so. They're packed on opening day."

And so was the stadium. Wall to wall people everywhere, as we crossed through the turnstiles, and hit the escalators and made our way to their seats.

During the National Anthem, US Navy A-18's fly over Great American Ball Park.

"So my dream one day, is my son (Tony, Jr.) will be one of those sons doing the fly over," Chitwood said. "Then they can land and he can come and join us here at the game."

Moments later, a proud father and son, got a glimpse of what's to come, as the A-18's blasted their way through the skies, on their lifelong journey with the Cincinnati Reds.

"It's a great experience," Chitwood said. "A great tradition for our family."

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