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Houston keeps love affair with Reds growing

On the opening night of the Cincinnati’s new Red to Bronze exhibit at the Reds’ Hall of Fame Museum, Greg Houston got a chance to meet with the Reds’ latest statue honoree Pete Rose. From left to right, Houston’s friend and Ironton graduate David Lutz, Rose and Greg. (Photo Submitted)

Jim Walker
jim.walker@irontontribune.com

CINCINNATI — Greg Houston has become quite a successful businessman, but inside he remains a hopeless baseball romantic.
Along with Dale Dean and his wife Pam Houston, Greg Houston is one of three founders of DeanHouston, a business that provides marketing communications services.
The trio opened their business in the summer of 1988.
“We had no money and no clients when were started. We were the quintessential start-up company,” said Greg Houston.
Today, DeanHouston has an estimated revenue of $11.1 million with 49 employees.
But with all his business success, the former football and baseball player for the Ironton Fighting Tigers still clings to the games he loved growing up.
His first love was baseball and he began a relationship with the Cincinnati Reds at the age of four.
“I can never remember a time when I wasn’t listening to the Reds on radio — Claude Sullivan, the Reds’ broadcaster, was my earliest recollection of listening to the Reds on radio — or attending a game at Crosley Field with my dad (Frank Houston),” said Greg.
No matter what he did in life, the Reds always has a spot on his personal batting order or things to do.
There have been plenty of “dates” with the Reds during his life. He loved to watch the Reds-Dodgers rivalry of the 1970s, attending the 1970 All-Star Game and watching Pete Rose barrel over catch Ray Fosse to score the winning run for the National League, and seeing Todd Frazier win the Home Run Derby in Cincinnati along with his wife and his brother Jeff and his wife Judy.
“There was a lot of energy at Great American Ball Park that night,” said Greg.
But one thing he won’t forget is the 1990 World Series when Reds’ catcher Joe Oliver got a hit over the third base bag that scored Billy Bates in the 10th inning of Game 2.
“Dad and I were in the loge section of Riverfront Stadium and we were jumping around like 5-year-olds. I can remember some people were waving brooms and a chorus of Reds fans shouting, ‘Sweeeep.’ I remember thinking, ‘No way will we sweep the A’s.’ But we certainly did,” said Greg.
All those memories along with the scoreboard signs and nooks and crannies of Crosley Field just fueled Houston’s love affair.
And that love finally became a marriage of sorts when Houston became a member of the Reds’ Hall of Fame board of directors.
Houston was able to get on the board with the help of neighbor and longtime friend Karen Forgus. Houston’s youngest daughter Mackenzie played soccer with Forgus’ daughter Hope when they were youngsters.
Houston said Forgus “is essentially the right hand of the (Reds’ owners) Castellinis, both Bob and Phil. Karen and my wife are in a women’s bible study and have been for a number of years.
“My nomination to the board was approved on the day the board voted to induct Pete Rose into the Reds’ Hall of Fame.”
And the intertwining of business and sports continued.
Houston was a starting guard for the 1975-76 Fighting Tigers’ football team and played second base in baseball.
“He was a pretty good played,” said former Ironton baseball coach Mike Burcham.
Greg’s brother, Jeff, was the starting center and they were on the 1975 Ironton team that played Cincinnati Wyoming at Dayton’s Welcome Stadium in the Class AA semifinals.
“Getting to play on AstroTurf in the 1970s was very special and it certainly made me feel faster than I really was,” said Houston with a chuckle. “Juan Thomas and Jermon Jackson I was not, but AstroTurf made me feel as if I could run, stop, cut on a dime just like the two of them,” said Houston.
“Too bad we lost to Wyoming, but to this day I still share with young high school ladies I coach in fastpitch softball how very special that memory was. In fact, I use that game as a way to inspire them to think big as they pursue their sports goals.”
After his playing days ended, Houston became the assignment editor/producer for WOWK-TV in Huntington in the early 1980s.  It was during the time period of 1985-93 that he did the play-by-play for Ironton football and basketball games.
Although Houston had a smooth delivery voice, getting to the games was a bumpy road. Literally at times.
It was during this time that he moved to Cincinnati in 1988 and began his business. Still, he made the trip to Ironton or wherever the Fighting Tigers were playing to do the games. His final broadcast was the 1993 state football championship game against Wauseon.
“Those years when coach (Bob) Lutz, coach Burcham and coach (Pat) Sheridan, et. al., were making annual runs deep into the state tournament were so much fun. I have really found memories of those years, especially the 1988 and 1989 seasons. The Wauseon loss was one of the tougher losses to swallow,” said Houston.
Besides coaching youth teams and following the Reds, Houston has now added more responsibilities outside of the business world.
As a board member, Houston helps assist the Hall of Fame Museum in fulfilling its mission and goals to record, preserve and promote the rich history and traditions of the Cincinnati Reds, honor on-field accomplishments and achievements and create an everlasting memorial to baseball and the Cincinnati Reds.
He is required to serve and participate on at least one committee of the board as determined by the Executive Committee. Houston is on the Events and Programming Committee and the Alumni Committee.
He must also promote and support the Hall of Fame and Museum by attending events and functions it sponsors and provide financial support a level that represents a significant commitment.
DeanHouston has sponsored several Gale events that include Ken Griffey Jr., Ron Oester, Dave Parker and Jake Beckley as well as the 2016 induction of Pete Rose and the 2015 statue dedication of Tony Perez.
Houston buys a 40-game, four-ticket package and is a gold Member season ticket package through the company. However, with 40 local employees and a total of 70 when combining the Chicago, Los Angeles and Shanghai offices, Houston offers tickets to employees and that leaves him with between five to eight games a year.
And while his business continues to grow, so does his love for baseball and the Reds.
Any guess as to which one is worth more than the other to him?