May 2008

Boston

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Yawkey Way is a great place for fans to enjoy themselves before the game…bands, food, etc.  Named for Thomas Yawkey, who owned the Red Sox for many decades.View.jpg

 

Fenway Park opened on April 20, 1912…five days after the Titanic sank.  At that time, sitting behind poles that supported ballpark roofs was fairly common.  I think it’s called an “obstructed view seat.”  I’m sure there have been more colorful descriptions from patrons over the years.

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This is the left field foul pole from on top of the Green Monster. This pole became famous during the 1975 World Series when  Boston’s Carlton Fisk was “waving” his home run fair to win Game Six.  The 12th inning, game-winning homer actually struck the pole.  Of course the Reds still won the series.  Fisk once jokingly told me “we won that series, 3 games to 4!”  The right field foul pole is, of course, named for Johnny Pesky .

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Fans sit in the “Monster Seats,”  during batting practice.  I was there when they opened at the beginning of the 2003 season.  I have the distinction of having broadcast as a visiting announcer for three different teams at Fenway:  Baltimore, Cincinnati and now the Royals.  I still don’t think I’ve been on the winning side yet.Monster Food Stand.jpg 

 

 

 

They’ve got “Monster” food on top of the the Green Monster.  Dogs, peanuts, whatever monsters eat.Monster Stands.jpg
 

 

There’s the Green Monster, 37 feet high.  You get the feeling they could add anything they’d like to this ballpark, as long as they painted it that same shade of green.Gathright Stretching.jpg
 

 

On the field, Joey Gathright was just a couple of days removed from colliding with teammate David DeJesus in the outfield down in Florida.  Joey stretching the shoulder that popped out of its socket.radio booth.jpg
 

 

 

Here is a shot of the field from the visiting radio booth at Fenway Park.Casey.jpg
 
 

 

Sean Casey may be the nicest player in all of baseball, surely one of the nicest.  Here posing with some fans who were lucky enough to be on the field at Fenway before the game.
 
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If these walls could talk!  The tunnel from the visitors cramped clubhouse down to the dugout.  Just think of all the great players who have made their way down this tunnel over the decades.
 

 

 

 

 

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The stairs then take you up to a small dugout.Dugout Pole.jpg 
 

 

Fans aren’t the only ones sitting behind poles..sometimes a player has to try to peer around pole in the dugout.Royals in Dugout.jpg
 

 

 

Miguel Olivo and Zach Greinke waiting to do some pregame work at Fenway Park.Trey & Billy.jpg
 

 

 

 

 

Manager Trey Hillman and Billy Butler chatting hours before the game.

 

 

 

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Here a security guard helps me show you just how tight it is down the foul lines in the outfield at Fenway Park.Standings.jpg
 

 

The standings on the outfield wall making Red Sox fans happy on this day.  Especially with New York in last place.
 

A DAY AT THE BEACH

The Royals had a successful first-ever trip to visit the Marlins in Miami.  It may be the only time they ever play in Dolphin Stadium, since the Marlins hope to be in a new baseball-only facility by 2011.  If it was the only trip, let the record show that the Royals have a winning record in South Florida, 2-1 after winning the first and third games of the interleague series.
 
And although announcers have nothing to do with how well or poorly a team performs, I want to see the Royals win just as much as you do.  So I felt it was my duty….my obligation to make sure that our hard-working, talented ballplayers kept their focus on baseball, even as they were staying in paradise.  Hey, somebody’s gotta do it!
 
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We stayed in Sunny Isles Beach, FL not too far from the ballpark.  As you can see, the view was great!  From here I could see no baseball players out enjoying themselves…
 
 
 
 
 
 
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The pool was 18 floors below and I still could see no one lounging by the pool….beach.jpg
 
 
 
 
 
Down the beach…beautiful scenery….still no ballplayers.at the pool.jpg
 
 
I figured I’d better get closer to the action…not because I like the pool mind you…but it’s important that the ballplayers stay focused on their jobs…Spent a couple of days poolside and didn’t see any ballplayers swimming or having fun.  Good…they’re focusing on baseball…
 
 
on the beach.jpgI walked up and down the beach….a lot of folks having fun…but our hard-working, selfless group of Royals players must have been at the ballpark…preparing each day to face the first-place Marlins.  But don’t feel sorry for me, even as I spent so much time safeguarding our young team…at the pool and the beach.  Hey, whatever I can
do to help!!Trey and Fredie.jpg
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
OK, enough silliness.  To the ballpark we go.  Here are Trey Hillman and Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez.  They managed against each other in the minor leagues.

ballpark2.jpgIt is cavernous to say the least.  Dolphin Stadium.  It’s had many names.  It’s hosted Super Bowls, Orange Bowls.  It’s also hosted the World Series twice.  But as its current name suggests, it’s a football-first stadium.  Doesn’t have the intimacy the Marlins would like for baseball, or a roof and air conditioner that are really necessary much of the year down here.  Again, they hope to have a new home within 3 years.
 
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They’ve called it the “Teal Monster”….most of that out-of-town scoreboard is 26 and a half feet high…not as tall as the Green Monster…but hitters do have to get it over that thing for a home run.   A lot of rockets off the bat become singles or doubles.cheer.jpg
 
 
 
 
 
To help raise the spirits of the fans, the Mermaids entertain at Dolphin Stadium  For baseball.guys.jpg
 
 
 
But, in the interest of equal time, and in the interest of making us cover our eyes, the Marlins also have a group of male cheerleaders.  The all-male, plus-size cheerleading squad is new this year.  They’re cleverly nicknamed the “Manatees,” get it? 

Weekend at The K

There weren’t enough wins over the weekend at Kauffman Stadium.  We could have used some balmy weather (which of course we finally got Monday, one day too late).  But it was a fun weekend….so I thought I’d pass along some of the “off-the-field” activities (even though some of them happened “on-the-field”)…
 
Friday night David Cook, of Blue Springs and American Idol, was on hand.  I’ll admit, I’m one of the six people in America who don’t watch American Idol.  But I admire the talent and the determination of those who compete.  Maybe I don’t watch it because, as a broadcaster, I’ve spent my whole life auditioning for things…and I’m not that excited about watching other people “sing for their supper” since I’ve done it so often…On the other hand, I was a huge fan of “The Gong Show,” back in the 70’s…which gives you a pretty good indication of my appreciation for sophisticated entertainment.  Anyway….
 
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Here he comes…the girls are swooning.  Many brought signs saying “We love you,” or something similar.helicopter.jpg
 
 
 
 
 
A film crew getting shots of David from the air.DC's first pitch.jpg 
 
 
David used to be a Stadium Club employee.  Something tells me those days are behind him (that’s not to knock the Stadium Club…Hey a beautiful place…perfect weather…and you can watch the game while you work…can’t beat that!)
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Here he is singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”  Maybe it’s just me, but it sure seemed like he got a lot more attention for it than I did….Family.jpg
 
 
 
 
A lot of relatives in town for the weekend.  My son John (more on him later), nephew Charlie, niece Jane, mother Marilyn, father Layton.Target Practice.jpg 
 
 
 
Bob Davis watching the proceedings…from his corner of the radio booth.  We like to think of his area as “target practice.”Duct Tape.jpg
 
 
 
 
Notice his monitor has been taped up.  A recent foul ball made a direct hit on the TV without knocking over his drink, which sat right in front of it…Hole.jpg
 
 
I’m no Abraham Zapruder (filmed Kennedy assassination).  But I would say that hole looks like the ball deflected off the TV, hit the wall, bounced over to Denny, who then threw it to a fan in the stands.  Another recent foul ball missed the TV, hit his drink…but Bob amazingly stayed dry.flags.jpg
 
 
 
 
Saturday night was very wet and very windy.  Long rain delay, then after we resumed play it got VERY windy…blowing not just the flags, but the flag POLES as well.John.jpg
 
 
Sunday was more fun…weather was better and the Royals WON…and my 9-year-old John got to be in the Hot Dog race at the end of the fifth inning.  There’s more to being a hot dog than meets the eye.  Here he puts on his “ketchup” costume pants…there’s also a shirt, with long sleeves.Mustard.jpg
 
 
 
Royals Sr. Vice President of Business Operations Kevin Uhlich had two “dogs” in the race.  Here he helps son Cody put on his “mustard” shoes.  They’re sort of like clown shoes, and make footing a little tricky.relish.jpg
 
 
 
 
Cody’s twin brother, Chase, getting his hot dog “trunk” on…He was relish. A member of the K Crew gives him a hand.teeny wienies.jpg
 
 
 
 
Here are all three dogs ready for a press conference.  Can you imagine how much they’d be “grilled” by reporters if they ever took questions?race.jpg
 
 
 
They’re off!  Chase is off to the lead, while John takes a tumble.  He was thrilled, though, that his favorite Royal, Joey Gathright, popped out of the dugout to help him back on his feet.
 

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Members of the KCrew making sure John stays on his feet.  An hour or so later, the Royals had a victory, and capped off a fun weekend at the K.

For those of you who follow such things, Relish won…Mustard came in second, and Ketchup finished third, but he did finish! (Thanks Joey!)

 
 
 
 

Everything’s Big in Texas!

When the Royals recently visited Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, it was my tenth (out of 14) American League ballpark. It’s a very nice “yard,” but one word you would never use to describe it is “intimate.” It is very large, totally enclosed (with offices used by various local businesses stacked in the outfield).

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This park opened the same year as “The Jake” (now Progressive Field) in Cleveland, 1994. Still looks new.

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They modeled parts of this ballpark after other classic stadiums, including Tiger Stadium. The right field porch with the posts holding up the overhang is very similar to the Tigers’ former home.Offices.jpg

 

 

Troy Aikman used to have an office here. Plenty of offices in center field. Nice view out your window if you can afford the square footage.Trey in Texas.jpg

 

 

Trey Hillman grew up in the area, and it was old home week for him in Texas.Trey with Joel and Split.jpg

 

 

Of course, these are new friends: Joel Goldberg and Paul Splittorff on the field before the game.Bob Gibson Suite.jpg

 

 

There are seemingly a million luxury suites on more than one level wrapping around Rangers Ballpark. They are named after baseball Hall of Famers. This is the Bob Gibson Suite.Catfish Hunter.jpg

 

I couldn’t find a George Brett suite, so the closest KC tie I found on my quick look around, was the late, great Catfish Hunter, who spent his first three seasons as a Kansas City Athletic, before winning championships in Oakland and New York.Titanic.jpg

 

 

When you look at the levels of suites stacked on top of one another, the word “Titanic” immediately came to mind. Fortunately the media level is up closer to the top. No leaks were apparent, fortunately.

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Right next to the Ballpark is Six Flags over Texas…the amusement park predates the stadium by many years. And, yes, a baseball season is a roller coaster.

New Stadium.jpgA few blocks from the Rangers stadium, is another amusement park of sorts. Some of the locals call it “Jerry World.” That would be Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys. This incredibly large structure dwarfs the Cowboys’ current home, Texas Stadium. The Cowboys move into their new home in time for the 2009 season. They’ve already booked a Super Bowl. It will have a retractable roof, and hold more than 100,000 for events such as the Super Bowl and the Cotton Bowl, which will move from, well, the Cotton Bowl.

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I lived in Dallas for six years, including my years at Southern Methodist University. Great city. You can see the skyline from the Ballpark. The growth in the area since I left is truly unbelievable.horse head.jpg

This is the Rangers’ mascot…Ranger Captain. Ranger Captain was born in 2003. The name comes from the Texas Rangers Law Enforcement Agency. Captains were the leaders for that group. When Ranger Captain was born, he (?) was sworn in by the mayor of Arlington (“Put your hoof on the bible and repeat after me…..”). When I had laryngitis I was a little hoarse…but nothing like this…sorry…night game.jpg

 

 

A shot of the Rangers Ballpark at night. Although it was incredibly windy (see picture below of the umbrella going through the car windshield), we at least came to Texas before the 99 degrees and high humidity hits! (any day now…)

How Windy?

And you thought the “wind comes sweepin’ down the plain” in Oklahoma? Check out this unbelievable picture taken by the Royals Senior Director of Team Travel/Clubhouse Operations, Jeff Davenport. Wednesday was an incredibly windy day in Arlington, Texas.

How windy? This is an actual photograph of a Starbucks umbrella that was blown out of its table base…and right through the windshield of this parked car. Davy’s booked a lot of flights in his day, but never has he seen an “unscheduled landing” quite like this one.

Starbucks Umbrella.jpg

I hope the owner of the car had umbrella coverage. Seriously, it’s very lucky no one was in the passenger seat when this flying spear came through the windshield. Thanks for the pic, Davy…

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