A FEW SURPRISES IN SURPRISE
Spring Training is always a time of hope, a time to be optimistic. How will this year go for the Royals? Hard to say. It will be an adventure we’ll all experience together. But 2010 began with another solid spring of hard work by the players and staff.
Here’s a taste of some of the things that were happening on the field and off the field (and largely off the field) as the Royals prepared for the regular season.
Arizona was a great host as always. I had the pleasure of having a total of 15 relatives visit Surprise and the surrounding area. Some made the trip to the Grand Canyon. Here I am with my cousin John McGinty. My son John is on the lower left, my nephew Charlie is lower right.
I think you know these guys. George Brett and Frank White play catch as each will throw a round of batting practice as they do so often during Spring Training. Once again the Royals utilized alumni on the field. John Mayberry, Dennis Leonard, John Wathan and Willie Wilson are among those who also sported Royal Blue this Spring.
Over my first three years with the Royals, I’ve spent a total of more than three months in the Valley of the Sun. On the first Sunday of Cactus League games I saw a tarp on a baseball field…and rain…for the first time. The game originally scheduled for March 7th with the Giants was made up a few weeks later.
Rain may be an unfamiliar site, but this is not. Manager Trey Hillman meets with the media at least twice each day. Here he answers questions from Bob Fescoe, Dick Kaegel, Robert Ford and Bob Dutton. This was before the Royals last game at historic Hi Corbett Field, the spring home of the Colorado Rockies (and before that the Cleveland Indians. Spring Training for the film “Major League” was filmed here). The Rockies and Diamondbacks are vacating Tucson and will henceforth train in the Phoenix area.
Here’s the Royals Rookie of the Year! Micah James Lefebvre. Born only weeks before, he made his first visit to Spring Training in late March. Hey Micah…baseball’s an exciting sport!! Really…you’ll see!!
Proud papa and mama Ryan and Sarah. Mom reports Micah was a great traveller on his maiden voyage, from KCI to Phoenix.
As Royals team photographer Chris Vleisides and receptionist Lisa Hemly check on a computer issue, you see the new addition to the wall in the lobby of the Royals Surprise offices. A giant version of the Kansas City Star salute to the 2009 Cy Young Award winner, Zack Greinke. Lisa, by the way, did an amazing job singing the National Anthem before one of the Royals games.
Eat your heart out cold hockey cities! Hockey may not be the first thing you think of when you see palm trees, but inside this building it’s very cold! And very loud!
The Phoenix Coyotes have had a great season after almost moving out of town last summer. I was a huge hockey fan growing up…before I “Rip Van Winkled” on it for oh….about 28 years…but I’ve rediscovered it the last couple of seasons. This was a sellout and a shootout victory in March.
My son the Coyote. John saw his first NHL game…along with several Royals games…on his Spring Break.
The Royals prepare for their final game in Tucson. As previously noted, the D-backs and Rockies will leave Tucson behind (no more 2 and a half hour drives. I’ve made the trip 7 times the past three springs). They’ll be in a more convenient spot. But Tucson is a good town with a long history as a spring training city.
We drive by Picacho Peak State Park one last time. When you go to Tucson for a game from Surprise it makes for about a 12 hour day. Our boss, Mike Swanson, spent 14 Springs in Tucson, in his days with the Diamondbacks, and before that, the Rockies. That’s a lot of long drives…
Don Free drives us home from Tucson one final time. Beginning next year no “road” trip should last more than an hour or so. Most are 30 minutes or less. The convenience of the Cactus League is amazing.