Results tagged ‘ Kansas City Royals ’

LIGHTS… CAMERA…BASEBALL

The August West Coast trip was not a good one…except for the weather. Cool and crisp. Not enough wins…but there were items of interest as the Royals visited Oakland, Seattle and Anaheim…

booth.jpgRight next to our radio booth. With Don Free hard at work preparing for our broadcast, Oakland radio voice Ken Korach was pretending to broadcast a game from 2002! They were filming a movie based on the book “Moneyball“. Ken was playing himself…so he was perfect for the role.

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Of course Moneyball chronicled the job Billy Beane and his baseball operation in Oakland did winning on a tight budget and doing it largely through studying statistics. Here in a normally empty back little area of the Oakland Coliseum press box, the audio engineers make sure everything sounds great for the movie.

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……These are the “movie star” trailers just outside the stadium where they’re  filming. And YES…Brad Pitt (playing Beane in the movie) and Angelina Jolie and family were in the house. And, no, I didn’t get either one of them for the pregame show…

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We had a day off in Seattle, I did something I had never done on several previous trips to the Emerald City…visited the Space Needle. It provides great views on a beautiful day like this one.

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… What street ran right by the Space Needle? Denny Way of course. Denny Matthews cannot confirm if he’s ever been on Denny Way in all his trips to Seattle over the years.

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Near Denny Way is Stewart Street. Looked but did not find a Davis Avenue or a Free Way….wait a minute…the 5 Freeway (Interstate 5) runs right by the Space Needle …(lower part of photo).

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As we flew out of Seattle on our way south to Anaheim we got a breathtaking close-up view of (we think) Mount Ranier sticking up through the cloud cover. What a beautiful view.

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The best weather of the trip was in Southern California. The temperature at game time for the afternoon game was 76…..wow. No…not enough wins…but great weather…and great views on the West Coast.

LIGHTS CAMERA ACTION!

The Royals had the Sunday night spotlight all to themselves (sharing it with the Angels) for the first time in 14 years. And while the Angels won the game (the only loss in the first six games of a winning road trip)…it was fun to see the Royals get back on national TV.

4-1.jpgWhile in Anaheim, the word came down that Joakim Soria would be the Royals All-Star representative. A very low-key, gracious guy, Joakim doesn’t really like a lot of attention. But when ESPN was interviewing various All-Stars, Soria was one of their guests (via satellite) before the game. Unfortunately he didn’t get into the game this year as he did two years ago at Yankee Stadium.

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Before the July 4th game that ESPN televised, Joe Morgan visiting with Ned Yost. Hopefully as the Royals well-stocked minor league system starts to turn out players nights like this will become more common. 

 

 

 

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Morgan, Jon Miller and Orel Hershiser on camera for Sunday Night Baseball. Miller is this years recipient of the Ford C. Frick award, given to one broadcaster each year, Denny won it in 2007. Jon is the radio voice of the San Francisco Giants, but has also broadcast the Orioles, Red Sox, Rangers and A’s.

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As the Angels played their final home game before hosting the All-Star Game, they put on a salute to America’s birthday, complete with a military flyover. 

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The Royals had a great time in Seattle, a place where they’ve really struggled the past several years. They went to Safeco Field having not swept a three-game series there since 1995. The Mariner Moose entertains the fans.

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The Royals did, in fact, sweep the M’s, taking 5 of the first 6 on their road trip. Delivering the knockout blow to the Moose and the Mariners with a 7-3 come-from-behind win in the final game, as Alberto Callaspo, Mitch Maier and Billy Butler went deep late in the game. The Moose was understandably overcome with grief. 

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OK, the Royals ran into a buzz saw in the White Sox. They had won 22 of 27 when KC rolled into town and bad guys took all three. But what a beautiful city, and what a great time of year to be there!

THE COUNTDOWN IS ON!

Even though it’s two years away, you get the feeling it will be here before we know it. The 2012 All-Star Game in Kansas City will be huge for this region and this franchise.

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Commissioner Bud Selig officially announcing the All-Star Game, Home Run Derby, etc all coming to Kansas City in July of 2012! Denny was the emcee of the big announcement. Royals Chairman David Glass is to the right of Denny.

2-2.jpgAfter the announcement, the skies opened up and we got quite a bit of rain, delaying the start of the game with Houston. During the rain delay, Denny had the chance to interview the Commissioner. Mr. Selig talked about his friendship with the man who founded the Royals franchise, Ewing Kauffman. The Commissioner reminisced about his earliest memories as a young baseball fan. And, no, Denny did not convince Mr. Selig to ban the DH. But he gave it another try!

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 After an 85 minute rain delay, out came a couple of rainbows! At the end of the rainbow? The 2012 All-Star Game! The first for Kansas City since 1973. And the third such event in Kansas City history.

AN ILL WIND

It was the longest road trip of the year for the Royals, and boy did it feel like it! What started with such promise with a split of four games in St. Petersburg, took a bad turn once the club left Florida.

Like the ballclub, I struggled on the trip. Was sick the previous homestand, and most of the 11-game journey. Happy to say I got over it after a couple of weeks feeling awful.

And while the trip didn’t yield much success on the field, we visited three great places….and I was just healthy enough to snap off a few images….

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Downtown St. Petersburg is a nice, laid-back place. As someone who felt like death, I was fortunate that there’s a bench to sit on at almost every downtown corner. I needed the break…

 

 

 

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At our hotel on the St. Pete water front, a wedding party makes its way toward the water for more photos of the happy couple and the wedding party. What a beautiful setting!
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“Hog Butcher for the World.
Tool Maker. Stacker of Wheat.
Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handler;
Stormy, hulky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders.”
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We were blessed with great weather for early spring in Chicago. Such a great place to visit!

 

 

 

 

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Beautiful architecture, beautiful day. I’ll repeat my theory about Chicago: It’s such a great city, that if it weren’t for the brutal winters, there might be 30 million people living there. It’s still huge, but Old Man Winter scares away just enough people to keep it from becoming TOO big.

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By the time we got to Texas, I finally was on the mend. After (finally) seeing a doctor my last day in Chicago, I actually felt like a human being by the time we got to Texas! And yes, the weather was perfect! Here my foot makes a cameo. Proof I finally felt better!
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Producer/Engineer Don Free had a couple of helpers for the final night game of the trip: grandson Jaxson (almost 2) and granddaughter Jordan (almost 5) keep Don’s already-full hands REALLY full.
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A great salute to a true sporting legend, a Texas legend. Byron Nelson was one of the greatest golfers of all time. While we were there, they were preparing the adjacent golf course for the PGA’s Byron Nelson Championship.

Nanook of the North

The Royals first road trip took them to three northern cities: Detroit, Minneapolis and Toronto.  In the past I’ve shown all three ballparks from our vantage point: Comerica Park, the Twins former home, the Metrodome, and Rogers Centre.  

But in Minnestoa, it’s a whole new world….Target field on beautiful day.jpg

 

 

This is our view of new Target Field.  First outdoor baseball since 1981 in the Twin Cities.  Amazing what $545 million will buy these days.  Beautiful ballpark. 

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 You see the skyline of Minneapolis down the right field line.  The Twins were blessed with perfect weather on their first homestand.
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This is Craig Edwards. He’s the meteorologist for Target Field. Haven’t needed one of those in a generation up here.

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Royals manager Trey Hillman likes the new digs. He gives reporters his own report on the tour he took of the place.

 

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The stands filling up before the game. They should easily surpass 3 million in the first year of Target Field. 

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One of many statues honoring the Twins history. In their 50th year….And Target Field salutes…among others…the great Rod Carew.

 

 

 

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Here’s Bob with Harmon Killebrew (briefly with the Royals, but a Twins legend and Hall of Famer.) Notice Don Free up top. For 28 years Don could never see a game in the Metrodome. He was blocked by the announcers. That problem has been resolved. He’s been producing/engineering our games since 1986 and now can finally watch the game in Minnesota!!

 
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 Anoher Twins legend makes his mark on Target Field….Kent Hrbek…

 

 

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In their 50th year and in their new ballpark, the Twins break out the old logo and sign. It’s 60 feet high in centerfield. Minnie and Paul shake hands in the Twin Cities once again.

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We also traveled to Toronto…where the Hockey Hall of Fame is located just a few blocks from our hotel. It’s tremendous. I mentioned previously, but I “Rip Van Winkled” on hockey for more than 20 years…but I’m back as a fan. It’s a tremendous sport…and no one treasures it more than those in Canada, where the sport was invented.

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This is me with Lord Stanley’s “other” Cup. The most famous trophy in sports is the Stanley Cup. There are two of them. This one is on permanent display at the HHOF. The other is on permanent tour and goes to the winning team at the end of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

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This is the original Stanley Cup. The whole playoff thing got too big so they needed a bigger, more ornate one.

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So many displays of the sports history….including one of many to the great Wayne Gretzky.

Mask.jpgThis is a mask worn 50 years ago by Montreal goaltender Jacque Plante. He, in 1959, became (believe it or not!!) the first goalie to EVER wear a mask during a hockey game! Coaches thought these things would obstruct the goalies’ view of the puck down at their feet. One night Plante had his lip split open. Between periods they stitched it up….and when he came out for the next period…he wore the same mask he had been wearing in practice. Over his coach’s objections. Fortunately he won the game…and the next 9. And a goalie wouldn’t think about playing without headgear.

 

 

 

 

SPRING HAS SPRUNG

The opening week of baseball at Kauffman Stadium did not produce as many wins as the fans would have liked…but the fans were happy to welcome the Royals home for Season 42…and Year 2 of the New K.

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Opening Day started out a little gloomy….but the skies would clear and the sun would shine!Bob, Whitey and Denny.jpg
 
 
Before the game a real treat.  Former Royals Manager Whitey Herzog stops by the booth for a visit.  Whitey, already in the Royals Hall of Fame, will be inducted in Cooperstown in July.   The former skipper threw out the ceremonial first pitch.  Here he visits with Bob and Denny.
 
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The crowd lets out an extra cheer on Opening Day as last years player of the year, Billy Butler, is introduced.  Billy had a two-run single on Opening Day.  Unfortunately it was not enough, as Detroit came from behind to win.Zack's Cy Young Ceremony.jpg
 

 

On the first Friday night game of 2010, the Royals honored Zack Greinke for his 2009 Cy Young Award.  His teammates, Royals alumni and his family all took part in the pregame celebration.  Ryan was the emcee.Soria on Opening Day.jpg
 

 

Later that Friday night, Joakim Soria took the mound in the 9th against the Red Sox.  He recorded a scoreless frame and his first save of the season.son John pitching.jpg
 

My first sign of spring was seeing my 11-year-old son John’s baseball practice. The Smash Burger Heat play in the Blue Valley Recreation League.  John’s always been a strike thrower.  My favorite player.  At any level.
 
 

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.

 

 

 

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 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. 

THE HOUSE THAT GEORGE BUILT

The last week of the season the Royals finally visited New Yankee Stadium for the first time.  At a cost of 1.5 billion dollars, it’s an attention-getter.  Last year I gave you one last look at the old place. 

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During batting practice the skies were getting dark.  Here Ryan Lefebvre and Fox Sports Kansas City producer Kevin Shank catch up with former Royals Manager Tony Pena, now the Yankees bench coach.  Notice the big HD screen in center.  It’s big, but not quite as big as CrownVision at New Kauffman Stadium.Yankee Stadium -first base shot.jpg
 

 

Great sightlines, wider concourses, a wide variety of cuisines, all the modern amenities.  Better be nice, for a billion and a half!
 
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This is the signature image of the new park, the Great Hall.  Here people enter in grand style, where giant banners honor of Yankee greats.  Very impressive.Sultan of Swat.jpg
 

 

There’s a Yankee Museum in the new stadium.  Here fans learn about the man who got it all started, the Sultan of Swat, Babe Ruth.Yankee Stadium -club.jpg
You may have heard the most expensive seats cost 2500 dollars behind homeplate.  Well, that price didn’t go over very well.  They slashed prices in half, to a still-exorbitant 1250 dollars a seat.  You do get to eat in this beautiful club located behind home plate for all that coin.  And of course servers bring whatever you want to your seat.Joe Girardi Media Session.jpg
 

Yankees Manager Joe Girardi meeting with the media before a game.  Most Major League managers draw between 5 and 10 reporters for most pregame news conferences.  With the Yankees, it’s as though every day is the World Series.  Just the way George likes it.
 
 

 

EMOTIONAL NIGHT

While the Royals were in Detroit, we were lucky enough to be on hand when legendary, longtime Tigers announcer Ernie Harwell came to the ballpark to say “thank you” and, sadly, “so long…”

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Ernie is 91 and was recently diagnosed with inoperable cancer.  He visited the Ernie Harwell press box.  Here flanked by, among many others, current Tigers broadcaster Dan Dickerson on the left and team President Dave Dombrowski on the right.  Ernie looks great and was in great spirits.

 

 

 

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A Detroit Free Press photographer captured Ernie leaving our radio booth after he came in to greet us.  The nicest man you could ever meet.  He gave Don a big hug.  That’s Don on the left.Harwell on field.jpg

 

In the middle of the third inning he addressed the crowd.  He was in full voice, no notes.  He was probably the only one without a tear in his eye.  Ernie…we all love you…(speaking for baseball fans everywhere….not just in Detroit).

MOVING RIGHT ALONG…

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If the game is moving slowly, there is one proven method to make it speed up:  give George Brett a microphone!  George recently joined Denny and Bob to promote Royals Fantasy Camp next February.  The game had been played at a leisurely pace until the 4th.  That’s when Number 5 sat down.  Total pitches needed for a pair of 1-2-3 innings?  20.  For six outs.  Every time he stops by, it seems, his visit is cut short by quick innings.  I couldn’t get Bob to smile, he was busy working.

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