MAYBE THE RAYS DO BITE

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.Tank.jpg  
 

 

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.Stingrays.jpg  
 
 

Fans line up for the chance to go look at the Rays…and…yes…reach in and pet the sea creatures….the way things were going for the Royals….I didn’t feel comfortable sticking my hand in there….welcome sign.jpg
 

 

Another feature added to Tropicana Field during the most recent renovations was the Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame.sox jersey.jpg

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.displays.jpg
 

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.military service.jpg
 
 

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.photo frame.jpg
 
 

 

Here’s the greatest hitter who ever lived with the greatest player who ever lived.  I’d take those two in my lineup!
 
 

 

COLBY IN COLBY

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:

 

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Colby 054.jpgFrom 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….)

 

ESCAPISM

The Royals had a recent off day in the Bay Area (ever notice that for everybody else in the world an off day is a bad day?  But in baseball an off day means a day off…meaning a good day?…In the rest of the world an off day is a bad day…and a day off is a good day…but I digress….as usual…..)
 
So after many trips to San Francisco, I finally made it to…and escaped from….ALCATRAZ!!

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The boat ride over from Fisherman’s Wharf is a nice little excursion…although it was a bit chilly.  The official place to make reservations fyi is alcatrazcruises.com.
 

 

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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.Prison Cell.jpg
 

 

 

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.”

 

 

 

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OK…I escaped…but I had a lot of help! 
 
 

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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!!
 

 

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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.
 
View from Alcatraz.jpgJust 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….
 

ROYAL IMAGES

A successful trip to Minneapolis, where the Twins are playing their 28th and last season of indoor baseball, followed by a brief, but fun, homestand…
 
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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.MN rendering.jpg
 

 

Here’s an artist rendering of the view inside the new ballpark.  Looks a little like Progressive Field in Cleveland from this angle, with those bleachers high in left field.MN Train Station.jpg
 

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.Zack Pitching Monday.jpg
 
 

 

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.Crown Club talk.jpg
 
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.BB & Hot Dogs.jpg
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 2009.jpg
 

 

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???????

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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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

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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.

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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:

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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?)
 
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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!
 
 


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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

Royals Fan

One of the fun things about our spring training webcasts is that we get to interact with fans from all over the world listening in.  One such fan…a big fan…is Sergeant Nathan Cosby, USMC.  Nathan emailed us and told us he had a Royals tattoo on one arm…and a Marine Corps tattoo on the other.  I said “Send me a pic I’ll put it on the blog…”  Well…here it is…and here’s Nathan’s explanation in his own words…THANKS NATHAN!  And thanks for serving your country so proudly!

Tattoo.jpgTo be honest there really isn’t much to say about either one of those tattoos except that I love the Marine Corps and I love the Royals. They’ve both had a fantastic impact on my life, so I thought I would do a little free advertising for them.

I’ve been in the Marine Corps for about 6 years, and I got the USMC tattoo in 29 Palms, California within my first year of service. Me and a buddy of mine both went in and got the same tattoo. It’s a pride thing you know. I’m not going to lie, it was a little bit for the girls. It worked before I got married.

As far as the Royals tattoo goes… It’s like this. Since I’ve been stationed in Jacksonville, Florida I’ve noticed something. Floridians are CRAZY when it comes to stickers on cars, t-shirts, ball caps, jackets, and anything else you can possibly imagine to put the logo of a team on. They are SOOOO proud of their Gators and their Rays and their Bucs and so on and so forth. They’re absolutely relentless, and there is nothing wrong with that. There should be more sports fans like them. Long story short, about a year ago I finally had enough and thought to myself… No one can possibly be more proud of their team than I am of the Royals!!!! So, in the spirit of one-upsmanship, I decided that I would go the distance and tattoo my favorite team of all time on me. That ought to show them.

Not only did I do that, I threw down a couple hundred dollars down for one of those fancy legacy bricks that they’re putting down at the K. I didn’t really have anything poetic to say, so in true annoying fan fashion it simply says…. “THE GREATEST TEAM OF ALL TIME!! WOOOOO!! -NATHAN COSBY-

I went ahead and took the liberty of sending a picture of that Legacy brick to you fine folks in the Royals radio booth, along with a picture of me sporting my Royals attire and being cocky at a Royals vs Rays game at Tropicana Field last season. Thanks for your time guys.

Sgt Nathan Cosby (USMC)

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