As the first homestand wound down, All-Star Fever was beginning to heat up! When you add the exhibition schedule to the regular season, the players’ journey is 194 games….so looking at it that way, we’re about a quarter of the way through! Here are some of the things we’ve encountered on our journey through 2012:
Number 5 came by the booth, in his role as the Ambassador of Kansas City’s All-Star Summer. George Brett was a 13-time All-Star as a player. Normally whenever he pays us a visit, the inning flies by and 3 outs are recorded in 7 or 8 pitches, leaving us very little time to talk with him. This was a rarity: six Royals batted, three got hits and one scored (Billy Butler on a Humberto Quintero double).
A great sight: Royals catcher Salvador Perez watching batting practice…walking without crutches. It’s still going to be awhile before we see him again crouching behind homeplate, but his rehab is going great and he should be good-as-new before too long. It was such deflating news we received in spring training that Sal would be lost for 3 months or so…but the Royals still expect him to be one of the best in baseball. And, oh by the way, he won’t turn 22 until May 10th.
A breathtaking sight: A fly-over by a Stealth bomber on Opening Day at Kauffman Stadium. The crowd that day was 40, 230…the largest crowd since the renovation in 2009.
The Royals opened the season in Anaheim. Here are your 3-4 hitters for the next several years in KC: Billy Butler and Eric Hosmer. Yes Cabrera/Fielder may be the most dangerous 3-4 in baseball right now, but there will come a time when these two will be feared by opponents in a similar way (at a price well south of the 400 million dollars those guys having coming their way).
Before we opened against the Angels, the Royals played an exhibition game at beautiful Petco Park in San Diego. And you probably know these Hall of Famers: Denny with Padres TV broadcaster Dick Enberg, who for years was the lead announcer for NBC Sports, before moving to CBS. When Denny started with the new Royals club in 1969, Enberg was the radio voice of the Angels.
Did I mention we were in San Diego? Having worked in both leagues and having travelled to every city in both leagues there are a lot of things to like. The American has Boston and Seattle among other great places to go. The National League has San Diego…ahhhhh. What a place. We were fortunate to visit two years in a row.
Here I am with Mark Stephen. The first baseball game I ever broadcast was in April of 1987 with this guy (he wasn’t much of a dresser back then either). That first game was the Calgary Cannons (our team) visiting the Las Vegas Stars, in Pacific Coast League play. Mark is a native Calgarian, and these days is the radio voice of the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL. Mark and his family visited AZ for spring break and took in a game between the Royals and Angels.
My son John was very lucky. He made TWO trips to spring training this year. Here he is with my (young) aunt, Melinda McGrath. Melinda has become a Royals fan. She’s a lifelong fan of Missouri’s “other” team (who knew Missouri had another Major League team?). She was one of about 20 of my relatives who visited Surprise in March.