Results tagged ‘ AZ ’

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.

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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.Suprise Stadium.jpgBrett & Frank 2010.jpg
 
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.Rain Tarp.jpg
 

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.Trey with Reporter in Surprise.jpg
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.

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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!!Micah's parents.jpg  
 

 

Proud papa and mama Ryan and Sarah.  Mom reports Micah was a great traveller on his maiden voyage, from KCI to Phoenix. 

 

 

 
 
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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.

 
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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!Coyotes Rink.jpg
 
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. 

  
 
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My son the Coyote. John saw his first NHL game…along with several Royals games…on his Spring Break.

 

 

 

 Stadium in Tucson.jpg

 
 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.  
 
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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…
 
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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. 

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

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