Next stop, Cincy: Actor Hanks continues ballpark tour

Updated: July 20, 2006, 12:43 AM ET
Associated Press

CINCINNATI -- Actor Tom Hanks and two show business friends turned a rain delay into an event Wednesday.

Hanks, director Ron Howard and comedian Dennis Miller made Great American Ball Park their third stop on their hush-hush ballparks tour. A two-hour rain delay during the Reds-New York Mets game provided a chance to snap photos with fans and offer their opinions of the game.

The trio sat behind a table in an interview room behind the press box during the rain delay, cracking jokes and recounting their boyhood baseball memories for the media. They'd been to Baltimore -- Hanks led the crowd in spelling O-R-I-O-L-E-S during the seventh-inning stretch -- and to Pittsburgh before arriving in Cincinnati.

Hanks, a star of "The Da Vinci Code" that Howard directed, decided to visit seven ballparks as a birthday present to himself.

"I turned 50 10 days ago." Hanks said. "This is the dream you have all the way back."

The trio arrived without fanfare, and wouldn't say where they were going next. Hanks said they've shortened the trip to fewer than seven ballparks, but didn't provide more information.

"Tom is so influential that he's arranged a St. Louis Browns game," Miller joked, referring to the defunct team.

Hanks sold peanuts and soft drinks at Oakland's ballpark as a youth, and the Athletics remain his favorite team. Howard is a Los Angeles Dodgers fan, while Miller prefers the Pirates.

All three suggested that former Reds player/manager Pete Rose should be in baseball's Hall of Fame. The career hits leader accepted a lifetime ban for gambling in 1989, and has admitted to betting on baseball.

"Until they at least make him eligible, it's not complete," Howard said.

Asked what baseball should have done to settle the Rose scandal, Miller said, "They should let Ray Fosse crash into his blindside." Rose bowled over the former Cleveland catcher at home plate to score the winning run in the 1970 All-Star game at Riverfront Stadium.

Hanks recalled Rose's quote about how he would have run through fire in a gasoline suit to play baseball.

"Unfortunately," Miller interrupted, "he would have bet whether he made it through or not."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press