As the Royals began the mathematical halfway point in the 2009 season, they visited a couple of first-place teams…Detroit and Boston. After returning from that trip, my 10-year-old son John and I headed to another city whose team was in first place…St. Louis. I saw my first State Farm Home Run Derby and my first MLB All-Star Game! (and, yes, I had to pay for my tickets…)
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Here’s John with St. Louis native and Cardinal fan Cedric the Entertainer. He wasn’t the only celebrity at the game…but he was the only one who stopped by our section in the right field corner. Actually Craig Sager of TNT Sports wandered by too…but Cedric is bigger…both literally and figuratively. Cedric was incredibly nice and patient-signing tons of autographs and taking pictures with lots of fans. We actually missed Carl Crawford’s great catch in left field to take this picture…but it was worth it (nice catch, Carl!!)
This was from our seats at Busch Stadium. Both nights were great. I think that’s Zack pitching…took lots of pics with camera phone…but it doesn’t zoom in. What a great job by Zack!!
OK…confession time…this is the rest stop at Exit 167 on I-70. I…uh…locked my keys in my car at this rest stop on our way to St. Louis for the Home Run Derby. Thanks to Bud’s Towing Service for allowing us to get into the car, and allowing us to make it to the Derby on time. “Bud’s Towing Service, the official towing service of the Royals Radio Network”…has a nice ring to it… At least it was a nice day.
Fenway Park may give the Red Sox the best home-field advantage in baseball. It’s a great place to visit. I recommend it if you haven’t been. Before one of the games, a giant American Flag was draped across the Green Monster for pregame ceremonies. They were honoring those participating in the annual Pan-Mass Challenge, a bike-a-thon that benefits the Jimmy Fund, the Red Sox charity that fights children’s cancer as well as funding cancer care.
These are the Rileys…Kelly and Ron…from Ponca City OK. Ron’s a life-long Royals fan and for a combined Father’s Day/birthday present, Kelly got him a new Royals cap and a trip to Boston to see a Royals game at Fenway. Ron is holding an autographed ball from the 1970 Royals, signed by, among others, Manager Bob Lemon and Lou Piniella. They emailed us in the radio booth (feelthepower.com) and told us they were coming to the game, and bringing a nice piece of Royals history with them.
When the Royals visit the Tigers, the travelling party stays in beautiful, tree-lined Birmingham, Michigan. It’s about 30 minutes north of Comerica Park. It’s a clean, bustling great little town in Detroit’s northern suburbs. Detroit has obviously taken many economic hits the past few years, but this town seems very vibrant. Great shopping, dining, parks. Hard to truly capture its charm with a few photos.
The Royals final six games of interleague play took them to Houston and Pittsburgh. That meant a couple of unique modern ballparks…as well as the chance for me to visit (re-visit) the Johnson Space Center in Houston…the home of NASA (with apologies to Washington DC….Kennedy Space Center in FL…etc)
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PNC Park in Pittsburgh opened in 2001. It offers a great vew of the Alleghany River…the Roberto Clemente Bridge that many fans cross for ballgames…and of course the Pittsburgh skyline.
Before the gates open you get an idea of the impressive total view of downtown. The broadcast booths are very high up…so it takes some getting-used-to when broadcasting a game…but you can’t beat this perspective on the city.
A Saturday stroll through downtown with Don Free and Bob Davis meant bumping into Royal fans in town to cheer on the visitors. They made the trek from Overland Park and loved seeing a new ballpark. Royals coordinator of communications and broadcasting, Colby Curry, also made the trip to see PNC for the first time.
Bob and Denny on the air inside air conditioned (thank goodness) Minute Maid Park in Houston. When it’s closing in on 100 with Texas-sized humidity readings, the roof and AC come in mighty handy.
My cousin (and Houston resident) Jeff Nunn, with me and another Jeff: Jeff Lovell. He was a Sigma Chi fraternity brother. His father is Jim Lovell, a Gemini and Apollo astronaut, and before that a Naval Aviator…an American hero. Tom Hanks played the part of Jim Lovell in Apollo 13.
There’s Jeff Lovell’s dad, Jim, on the left. He flew on that ill-fated mission with Jack Swigert and Fred Haise. Kevin Bacon played Swigert in the movie, Apollo 13. Bill Paxton played the part of Fred Haise.
This is the room formerly used as “Mission Control.” NASA used it on missions from the mid-60′s to the mid-90′s, the “glory days” of NASA. They’ve replaced this room with a new modern Mission Control. They’ve restored this room to look exactly as it did during the Apollo days.
My cousin, Jeff, standing in front of a Saturn V rocket, that would have gone to the Moon if not for budget cuts in the early 1970′s. It now lies indoors in a climate-controlled building. It’s amazing how big it is…and how powerful these rocket ships were.
In the museum at the Johnson Space Center, there are several Moon rocks on display, including this one that the public can touch. This was a piece of a rock brought back on Apollo 17.
This is NASA’s Space Vehicle Mockup Facility. This is where the astronauts train for missions to the International Space Station. It’s in a massive, warehouse-sized building. These “pods” are linked up in space, providing living and working quarters, and this facility allows astronauts to train in an exact replica, minus the zero-gravity of space.
This is a “pretend” space shuttle. Astronauts use this and other shuttle simulators to practice, practice, practice. Here, the payload bay is open. Crews deliver and retrieve satellites, among other things, in this compartment. The Shuttle fleet is due to be retired next year after almost 30 years of use. Ares 1 is due to start carrying Americans into space in 2015.
They say men are from Mars. My cousin and I may never make it to Mars. I hope I live long enought to see people travel there.
The homestand got off to a great start…I thought I’d show you a few of the things we’ve seen on the road…and at home….as the the season rolls through June…
Our friend Marine Sgt. Nathan Cosby made his first visit to the New Kauffman Stadium for the Cincinnati series…and the home team rewarded him for his trip from Jacksonville, Florida…where he proudly serves his country..with a sweep!! Nathan’s been a Marine for six years. He already had most of the tattoo on his arm, but recently “finished the job” with the addition of the crown on top…just like the New K!
Cleveland was (mostly) miserable for the Royals…losing 2 of 3..when they should have swept…so this is the only Cleveland pic that makes the cut. From their version of the hot dog races. Those guys are just a bunch of empty suits!
While in Toronto…I wanted to visit the Hockey Hall of Fame. I didn’t make it…but Bob and I did dine at Wayne Gretzky’s restaurant in downtown Toronto. It’s almost as good…plus they serve ribs! The address is 99 Blue Jays Way.
Gretzky is revered everywhere but especially in his home country. “The Great One” was born and raised in Brantford, Ontario…an hour or so from Toronto. There are many impressive artifacts from his incredible career on display at his restaurant/shrine.. Here…jerseys from his days with the Rangers…Kings…and Edmonton Oilers.
On the roof of the building is a nice little oasis in downtown Toronto…Gretzky’s patio deck. I recommend it (in the summertime of course…).
The Rays (and before that, the Devil Rays) have been tough on the Royals over the years at Tropicana Field, so I thought I’d try to find some positive experiences Royals fans could enjoy under the dome in St. Pete.
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Here’s something you may not have expected to see heading into the 2008 season….banners commemorating Tampa Bay’s first American League East Division title…as well as their 2008 American League Pennant.
When they renovated this dome a couple of years ago…one of the things they added was a giant Cownose Ray Tank just beyond the centerfield wall.
Another feature added to Tropicana Field during the most recent renovations was the Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame.
This is must-see if you make it to St. Petersburg. Very impressive. The former location was in Hernando, Florida about a hundred miles north, but it had financial problems and was in a somewhat remote location…so even though he was a hero in Boston….his personal memorabilia is here at Tropicana Field.
I’m not doing this HOF justice with just a few shots…this is just part of what’s on display. Williams, besides being “the greatest hitter who ever lived,” was so much more…war hero…champion fisherman. Very impressive display.
He fought in two wars….missing almost five years of his career to serve his country. I asked former Yankee infielder Jerry Coleman about what happened to player’s skills when they left the game for a couple of seasons…he told me that a player’s skills diminish, at least a little bit with all that time away from the Big Leagues. This makes the accomplishments of Williams and other player/war heroes like Bob Feller all the more impressive.
Here’s the greatest hitter who ever lived with the greatest player who ever lived. I’d take those two in my lineup!
During a recent broadcast Bob Davis was saluting one of our fine Royals Radio Network affiliates: KXXX AM 790 in Colby, Kansas. So I said to Bob “I wonder if Colby Curry has ever been to Colby, Kansas?”
Colby is a vital part of the Royals outstanding media relations team. His title is Coordinator-Communications and Broadcasting.
So here is visual proof that our man Colby has, in fact, been to Colby….followed by his explanation:
From 2003 to 2005, I lived in Oregon while completing my MBA at Willamette University . I loved Oregon and had some work opportunities there but couldn’t find my dream job in sports. I made the decision to move back to Illinois and pursue the dream job from there.
On my way back, I stopped in Logan , Utah for a few days to see friends from grad school (hence the Utah State Aggies shirt, which I received from them). I drove on to Denver , where I looked around for a few hours and thought of it as a possible career destination. I left Denver and proceeded along I-70 to Colby. I hadn’t stopped in Colby for many years so I took the opportunity to check out the visitor’s center. The volunteer asked what brought me to Colby and so I proceeded to sign my name on their visitor’s log. He saw my name and insisted on taking a few pictures. I thanked him and drove around the town, making one stop to buy Colby postcards. I proceeded on east to through Kansas City and on to Illinois . A short time later, I started my dream job in sports with the Royals!
(I will post in a similar manner if we ever hire anybody named Emporia, Omaha, Des Moines or Springfield….)
So after many trips to San Francisco, I finally made it to…and escaped from….ALCATRAZ!!
Alcatraz was a lighthouse..then a longtime military base, before it became a maximum security penitentiary in 1933. Al Capone was among the infamous who did time here. This is the “block house” at “The Rock” as Alcatraz was known.
Pretty spartan accomodations. The famous “escape” from alcatraz happened when prisoners apparently used spoons stolen from the dining hall to methodically chip away at the concrete heating duct under the sink. No one is known to have successfully escaped from “The Rock.”
I doubt the games were broadcast on the radio…but this was the recreation yard…and that area farthest away in this photograph served as the infield for the prison baseball league. Inmate/spectators would sit on those steps and cheer…or boo. Talk about a tough crowd!!
This is the dining hall at Alcatraz. The knives in the kitchen were all different shapes that hung in specific “slots” which allowed guards in the kitchen to know that all cutlery was accounted for each day. Even using this logical system, knives did occasionally “walk away” from the kitchen.
Just a mile or so away from this formerly dark, depressing prison is beautiful San Francisco. Beauty so close and yet so far. One other note about Alcatraz…many of the prison employees and their families…and yes, their children, lived there. Kids would ride a boat to their school on the mainland each day and return home in the evening. Sounds strange, but those who lived there said it was like living in a small, friendly town….
While the Royals were taking 2 of three from the Twins inside the Metrodome, construction crews were hard at work making outdoor baseball “the thing” again in the Twin Cities. This is the view as you walk down the street from the first base side of new “Target Field.” It will open next season.
Here’s a shot from across the street looking at what will be the left field corner of Target Field. On the far left you can see what will be their giant center field scoreboard. In the foreground you may see the train station that will allow fans easy access via mass transit.
After the successful weekend in Minnesota, Zack Greinke electrified the house, with a complete-game masterpiece versus the White Sox. Here he induces Jim Thome into a game-ending popup.
During the White Sox-Mariners homestand, the Kansas Association of Broadcasters spent an entire day at the New Kauffman Stadium. Here Manager Trey Hillman addresses the crowd in the beautifully renovated Crown Club, right after GM Dayton Moore…and before the 3 amigos (Denny, Bob and me). A GREAT group of professionals.
The finale of the homestand featured the annual “School Day at the K.” Fox 4 in Kansas City had many of their personalities on hand. Billy Butler, Willie Bloomquist and first base coach Rusty Kuntz lent a hand during the proceedings. So did the hot dogs (I told ketchup she was getting a little red in the sun…the relish he was looking a little green around the gills….and the mustard she shouldn’t be scared…I won’t tell you what they said back to me…)
School Day at the K produced a Thursday afternoon crowd of close to 33,000. The 20,000 kids had a great time and definitely added a LOT of energy to the event. Why didn’t they do stuff like this when I was a kid???????
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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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.
The 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
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!
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!
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…
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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Jackson 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.
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’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.
Fans on the rail at the Miller Lite Fountain Bar watch batting practice from a perspective never before seen at Kauffman Stadium.
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.
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….).
Some 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.
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.