Royals Sr. V.P. of Business Operations Kevin Uhlich oversaw the renovations of “The Big A” several years ago. Although it’s not a new park, it looks like one. They did a great job. And as he’s reminded us, the Royals renovation has twice the budget, which means what we’ll see at Kauffman Stadium next year really will be something special.
First game this year (other than in the Metrodome) in which I didn’t have to wear a coat. Very pleasant atmosphere at Angel Stadium, where the Angels now draw better than 3 million a year. The three Southern California teams combined to draw 10 million fans in 2007.
As the West Coast trip started for the Royals, things changed. Time zone, city, division, etc. One thing that didn’t change….WEATHER! 45-ish degrees for both games at Safeco Field in Seattle. Beautiful city, beautiful ballpark, freezing weather. So the Siberian Express (aka the Royals’ season so far) went from Milwaukee to Detroit, to Minneapolis (where it really wasn’t THAT cold), to KC and on to Seattle.
It’s a pretty park, but with raw, cold, rainy weather, the roof had to be closed. It’s an open-air park, so the good news is you don’t have rain delays. The bad news is you can be very cold. The Royals split the two games, winning Monday, losing Tuesday. The only stop in Seattle all year, unfortunately…because it’s a great place. So in my limited, chilled day-and-a-half in Seattle, here are a few images:
Down the street from our hotel…Puget Sound…
Just to prove the sun was shining very briefly in our all-too-brief stay in Seattle…
Starbucks…..What a shock! A Starbucks! We had one right across the street from the hotel….that’s true at every hotel here, by the way.
Roof closing…..Hey…that roof saves a lot of games. Here it was closing prior to Tuesday afternoon’s series finale…
Ballpark shot….Looking forward to seeing a sunny open-roof day here next season….but nice to know you’ll always start on-time. Beautiful park.
April 15th was the 61st anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s Major League debut. They etched his number on the infield dirt. Trey Hillman, Luis Silverio, Jose Guillen and Joey Gathright all donned the number “42″ in Jackie’s honor.
Opening Day in Detroit was great, as the Royals beat the Tigers and got off to a good start in a hostile environment. But having been at both events, I can safely say, the home opener was even better.
Despite the raw, cold, rainy day, there was a festive air at Kauffman Stadium, which is a construction zone in some areas. The new HD board in centerfield, the world’s largest, is really unbelievable. And the game was great for the home fans, as Brian Bannister survived some early command problems and hung in there for five solid innings against an excellent Yankee lineup. The bullpen did what it had done on the road trip…shut down the opposition.
I took my camera with me as I wandered through “The K.” Hope you enjoy my view of the Royals 40th home opener.
Royals Sr. VP of Business Operations Kevin Uhlich tells Bench Coach Dave Owen, Tony Pena and John Buck about the 9000 square foot HD board before the game.
The grounds crew squeegies off the tarp as it rained all morning. Notice the other new animated board in left and left-center field. It’s the out-of-town scoreboard a lot of the time, but it can do a lot more.
The “weapons of choice” for Royals hitters, quiet before the game…
John Madden likes to say “there should be a head for every helmet.” Not sure exactly what he means…but it sounds good when he says it…
Prior to the game, Trey Hillman facing the KC media as well as New York reporters. Prior to his time managing in Japan, Trey spent 12 years as a minor league manager for the Yankees.
Yankee radio broadcaster John Sterling stops over from his booth next door to visit with Denny prior to the start of Opening Day.
The new HD board takes a small army to run from “Mission Control.” Here are a few of the fine people who operate the the great “wall” of video.
More of the folks who run the board. It takes 17 people to run the 8.3 million dollar monster. I have no idea what any of the buttons do. I can operate a toaster, that’s about it.
Player introductions took on a much more vivid scale. Alex Gordon being introduced with a youngster. The children escorting the Royals players are kids whose parents are stationed at Fort Riley and currently deployed in Iraq.
Out beyond the right field wall, lie the pieces of the old crown that sat atop the scoreboard for so many years. It will be utilized in the newly renovated outfield area in 2009. No where else to store it. Bob Davis says “it looks like the pieces you’d use to build a giant dog house.”
Speaking of Bob, KU football coach Mark Mangino stopped by and visited with us on Opening Day. He threw out the first pitch. He’s a big Royals fan (converted from his childhood team the Cleveland Indians).
Even the enemy looks good on the new big board. When you come to the park, you might want to make sure you don’t have chocolate stains on your face. Crowd shots can multiply the size of your head to 60 or 70 feet at times! You’ve been warned!
First of all, when we arrived at Comerica Park early Wednesday morning…there was ice covering the tarp. Temperatures in the mid-20′s turned the soaking wet tarp into an ice rink, so the grounds crew had to squeegee all the ice off the tarp…leaving piles of ice on the grass. I thought the ice dispensed in the media dining room tasted little funny……
And here’s a little pop quiz for you. I was walking through the Royals clubhouse in Detroit and happened upon this contraption. It looks a little like a toaster they might have used in medieval times, or perhaps with the “teeth” in the middle of it, you could use it to crack really stubborn walnuts…
Let me know what it is…although I would guess one of you will provide the answer before I get the chance…