April 2009

NEW JERSEY IN MISSOURI

The second Saturday home game was the third sellout at New Kauffman Stadium.  On last years jersey giveaway night,  Billy Butler was honored, it was 37 degrees at gametime.  This year, a much more tolerable 75.   It was a VERY popular promotion…How popular?
 
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40th Jersey Crowd.jpg 
 

Thousands were lined up hours before the game, hoping for the 40th Anniversary home white jersey (the Royals first season was 1969…)  This picture doesn’t do the pregame crowd justice…they were lined up all around the New K.  
 
Giveaway Entrance.jpgThe gates opened early…3:00 for the 6:10 start…and the masses were ready!   The number 40 adorned every jersey.  Although It marks the club’s 40th anniversary…just so you know…here’s a list of Royals who have worn 40 on their back:
 
Chris Zachary 1969
Dave Wickersham 1969
Jim York 1970-71
Steve Busby 1972-76, 1978-80
Mike Jones 1981
Bud Black 1982-88
Rick Luecken 1989
Daryl Smith 1990
Curt Young 1992
Kevin Koslofski 1992-94
Jose Mota 1995
Runelvys Hernandez 2002-06
Brian Bannister 2007
Kip Wells 2008
and currently…………Kyle Farnsworth

40 40 Guy.jpg

 

The Royals have never had a “40/40″ guy (at least 40 homers and 40 steals in one season)…but with the first 20,000 fans picking up jerseys with “40″ on them…there were 10,000 “40/40′s” in the house!  It was great seeing the New “K” packed for batting practice a couple of hours before gametime!

 
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 Like mother, like daughter.  We know the little one is under 40…is the mom under 40?  She’ll never tell.  It doesn’t matter…this season EVERYBODY is 40!

 

JERRY WORLD

That’s what some in the Dallas/Fort Worth media call the new mega-stadium the Dallas Cowboys will soon call home.  Of course Jerry is Jerry Jones…the Cowboys’ owner.  It’s in Arlington, Texas…just blocks from Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

When completed very soon…this retractable-roof stadium will hold up to 100,000.  Lots of events are planned for the new palace…including Super Bowl (February 2011), Cotton Bowl…the Big 12 Championship game…Final Four…NBA All-Star Game…concerts, etc.
 
It is so massive…it’s hard to capture it’s incredible size with one photograph.  Some have said it looks like an alien spacecraft…
 
It’s so big the old Cowboys home, Texas Stadium (which was already huge) could easily fit inside this place…

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AN ALL-NEW HOME SWEET HOME

The first homestand of 2009 was a hit!  Oh sure, we would have liked to have seen better than a 3-3 record against the Yankees and Indians, but the ballpark….WOW
 
Thought I’d share a few pictures of what I saw during the first homestand…this is by no means a complete picture of what 250 million dollars can do to an already beautiful ballpark…but it’ll give you a little taste anyway:  Among those things not pictured are the Rivals Sports Bar in rightfield….or the Bud Light Party Deck above it….
 
Perhaps the most popular new feature is the Pepsi Party Porch in rightfield.  I didn’t make it down there either…yet.  Every game it’s packed, as fans enjoy a view of the stadium they’ve never before experienced.  Also the DRI DUCK Fountain Seats are great!  Haven’t been to the New Stadium Club yet. Concourses and restrooms are all new.  The new Little K is great too!  Kids are loving that.  I could go and on….but I’ll shut up about what is NOT pictured and let you enjoy what I was able to shoot during the first homestand in the NEW K.
 
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ribbon cutting.jpgJackson County Executive Mike Sanders and Royals Chairman/Owner David Glass cut the ribbon on the new ballpark (ok, I was a split-second after the fact.  There were plenty of professional photographers there who got the ACTUAL ribbon being cut).  Mr. Glass said, “I’ve been to most of the new stadiums and I would rank this right at the top of any of the others that I’ve been to.”  I concur wholeheartedly…as did everyone I’ve talked to who’s been to the New Kauffman Stadium. 

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Opening Day ceremonies were spectacular…after a rainy morning the skies cleared by afternoon.Opener Flyover.jpg
 

 

Right on cue during the National Anthem, the A-10 flyover came zooming by overhead (at least I got this shot, even if I missed the giant scissors in actual mid-cut!).
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Denny was the emcee for the unveiling of the Dick Howser statue in centerfield, between the George Brett and Frank White statues.  The late Dick Howser, who managed the Royals to the 1985 World Championship, is fondly remembered by all who knew him.Howser & Wife.jpg

Howser’s widow, Nancy, did a wonderful job paying tribute to Dick and talking about how much he would have enjoyed being there.  Howser, a former Florida State Seminole,  is remembered in many ways…the baseball stadium at FSU is named for him…as is the “Dick Howser Trophy,” which honors college baseball’s best player each year.
 

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On Opening Day…in the Outfield Experience…a young lady gets her face painted.  Don’t worry, mom and dad, it’s not permanent!Playground & Merry go round.jpg
 

 

The new carousel and playground keep the youngsters happy.  The carousel has Royals-themed characters on it….including Sluggerrr.The Golf Stop Mini Golf.jpg
 

 

 

 

Yes, the new putt-putt golf course was very popular.  Here a mom and daughter enjoy one of the new amenities.MLB 2K9.jpg
 

 

It would be easier to list what ISN’T in the Outfield Experience than what is.  If it’s going to be kid-oriented, it’s going to have to have video games, right?Fountain Bar.jpg
 

 

One of many features for adults is the new Miller Lite Fountain Bar in leftcenter field.  A great vantage point to watch the game…Fountain Bar View.jpg
 

 

Fans on the rail at the Miller Lite Fountain Bar watch batting practice from a perspective never before seen at Kauffman Stadium.Diamond Club View.jpg
Here’s an area that is sure to be VERY popular…the brand new Diamond Club.  It offers the indoor/outdoor opportunity…with a great view from inside…but also a nice padded seat just below.  The prices are very reasonable compared with other premium seats in other ballparks.  It’s cheaper than the beautiful Royals Crown Club, for instance…although it’s not all-inclusive in terms of food and drink.  But on the cold days, or hot, humid days, it’s a great haven for baseball fans.

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The Diamond Club is at the bottom through the glass there….above that is the new broadcast level…the middle booths with the short windows are for television.  The booth to the immediate right of the TV booths is our new home, the Royals Radio Network booth.  
 
Above the broadcast level are the exquisite new Triple Crown Suites.  And above that…those top windows…are the new press box.  It’s slightly higher than the old one..but SOOOO much nicer.  It’s also where the new press dining room is located (perhaps the most important room in the ballpark for us media folks….).
 
Royals Radio Network Affiliate.jpgSome friends from an original Royals Radio Network affiliate in Shenandoah, Iowa.  They’ve been with the club since 1969.  Pictured along with Bob, Don and me are KMA sports director Chris Williams, account executive Mike Wetzel and a friend of theirs, Mike Dreyer.  The Royals Radio Network is 96 stations strong, largest in the American League.  Atlanta’s is the largest in all of baseball.  Only Atlanta and St. Louis have more affiliates than do the Royals.

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Here’s a shot from the View Level of the new ballpark.  Just beautiful.Welcome Home Luncheon 2009.jpg
 
 

 

The lights were out as Ryan introduced various members of the team at the Welcome Home Luncheon at the Hyatt Crown Center.  The  annual event sold out, and offerred fans a chance to meet their favorite Royals.

VICTORY ON THE SOUTH SIDE

After rain, snow, wind and cold…the season got underway a day late in Chicago.  After a heartbreaking loss in the opener, Game 2 had a better ending.

CLICK ON ANY PIC TO ENLARGETarp at Cellular.jpg
 

 

Sunday and Monday were washouts.  Sundays workout was cancelled…so was Monday’s game.Opening Game 4.8.jpg
 

 

By Tuesday they were ready to “play ball.”  Navy personnel unfurled a giant flag on Tuesday during ceremonies before the opener.Teahen at Cellular.jpg

 

 

Before Wednesdays game, infield coach Dave Owen (left) is playing the part of a shortstop/third baseman, making throws to 2B Mark Teahen…who’s working on making the pivot at second base.Soria at Cellular.jpg
 

 

After a tough loss Tuesday, great to see Joakim Soria come on and mow down the White Sox 1-2-3.  A combined shutout!  Greinke-Cruz-Soria.  A 2-nothing win!

A FOND FAREWELL TO SUNNY SURPRISE

The Royals played a club-record 34 Spring Training games in Arizona (a record 36 total, with two final exhibitions in Texas.
 
Spring Training is a great time of year…and a great place for fans to see their team coming together…
 
Some final images from Year Seven for the Royals in Sunny Surprise:

Fans at Surprise Ballpark.jpg

 

Of course watching the Royals play in Spring Training means getting a head start on all the ballpark “eats,” and of course the weather is always perfect!  Having seen all ten Cactus League ballparks, I can tell you that Surprise Stadium is the best there is!Ali.jpg
The biggest thrill of Royals Spring Training ’09 was the arrival, by golf cart, of former heavyweight boxing champ Muhammad Ali when the Dodgers visited the Royals on March 20th.  The largest crowd of the spring assembled that evening, 10,929.  And as a bonus, not only was “The Greatest,” Ali, sitting in the front row by the Royals dugout, but “The Great One,” Wayne Gretzky, was sitting right behind him.  Gretzky coaches the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes.

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Ballpark delicacies.  Always an important part of enjoying baseball, whether it’s Spring Training or regular season…
 

 

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ATTENTION MOMS AND DADS…I didn’t fact-check this sign….but thought it was interesting.  Hmmm…I wonder if they have sugar-free cotton candy?  (or if anyone cares?)
 
Steve's Son.jpg

My son, John, on the grass berm in the outfield at Tucson Electric Park.  It’s the spring home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, a 2 and a half hour drive from Surprise (and the rampant rumors are…they’re moving to the Phoenix area, along with Colorado, by 2011!   That means 15 Major League teams ALL within about an hour of each other!!)  For the record, he wound up with 3 baseballs during batting practice that day. 

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I had somewhere between 17 and 20 relatives visit during Spring Training (I keep trying to count and the number comes up different every time…) Seen here: my dad Layton, mother Marilyn, Aunt Maureen (of Mission, KS), Aunt Marjorie and my son John.  I couldn’t fit them all in our radio booth!Margaret and John.jpg
 

 

 

 

This picture had to make the cut…my niece Margaret (soon-to-be-3) and John.  She always steals the show.
 

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Here are Denny and Ryan in a “production meeting.”  Actually it was dinnertime at the Royals offices and the pizza was free of charge!
 

 

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When Bob Davis and I travel to (and from) Tucson this is THE place to stop.  The “world famous” Picacho Peak Dairy Queen.  It’s about the only place to stop on the 2-hour drive between Phoenix and Tucson.  Unfortunately (or fortunately if you’re a KU fan), Bob missed both trips to Tucson this spring (basketball season lasted well into Spring Training), which meant no Picacho Peak DQ for Bob…oh well…there’s always next year!
 
 


Metro Sports.jpg

Here are Chris Gough and Brad Porter of Metro Sports in Kansas City.  Metro was in Surprise from beginning-to-end in Surprise.  After this picture, these two “stars” had the “opportunity” to drive this satellite truck and an SUV all the way back to KC!  That’s AZ, NM, TX, OK, KS and MO….22 hours!!Loading the Truck.jpg
 

 

 

Sad sight, happy sight.  You hate to leave 83-degree weather, BUT…the season is finally here!
 

 

 

 Until next year…so long Surprise!Truck and Complex.jpg

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