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Dreissen, Casey careers in contrast

They were first basemen for the Cincinnati Reds. They were inducted into the franchise’s Hall of Fame together this past weekend. They had outstanding careers with the ability to hit for power and average and they were excellent fielders.

End of similarities.

Dan Driessen and Sean Casey along with the late John Reilly — all first basemen — were the 2012 Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame inductees.

But Driessen and Casey were distinctly different personalities and their pre-game speeches on Saturday proved that point.

Driessen was a shy, tight-lipped player. He usually only spoke when spoken to and getting more than one-word answers was like pulling teeth.

Casey was the opposite. He talked to everyone. He initiated the conversation. When he answered a question, his cup runneth over.

When Driessen stepped to the microphone before Reds’ fans, his head was down and he appeared almost embarrassed. He graciously thanked the crowd and the Reds for his honor and retreated to his seat.

Casey came to the podium, pumped his fist in the air and when fans yelled, “We love you, Sean,” he yelled back, “I love you, too.”

Early into his speech, Casey wiped tears from his eyes as he became filled with emotion. “You got me,” he said to the crowd’s warm and enthusiastic welcome.

Not only were their speeches in direct contrast, so were their careers.

Driessen followed a legend and popular first baseman in Tony Perez, himself a Reds’ and National Baseball Hall of Fame honoree. Casey followed Hal Morris who was at the end of his career. Casey was loved by the fans — and still is — and players to the point he was nicknamed “The Mayor.”

But both were hard-workers who played the game with a great love and enthusiasm. Casey wore his emotions on his sleeve. Driessen stuffed his emotions in his back pocket.

The Reds have a history of great first basemen. Reilly would be the first in the long line and in the past decades great players such Ted Kluszewski, Lee May, Tony Perez, Driessen, Morris, Casey and current first baseman and future Hall of Famer Joey Votto have held that spot on the field.

And in the end, their performance is the one thing that remains constant.

—— Sinatra ——

Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.