Recently, I’ve been asked to chat with some kids as a part of the “Chevy Youth Baseball Moments” feature. You never know what you’re going to get when you put someone on camera and ask them to speak with you, but kids present an entirely new variable to that equation, uncensored honesty.
“So what’s your record?” I asked.
“We’ve only won one game. We’re not very good,” the young boy replied.
You hear a lot of things walking around Kauffman Stadium. Some good, some bad, some funny, some profane, some sweet and some honest.
“Daddy, why did the man throw the bat down?” the little girl asked.
“Well, honey, I guess he wasn’t happy he struck out,” her father replied.
All this interaction with fans and more so with lots of young kids this season, as prompted by the Chevy Youth Baseball promotions, reminds me of the time that I ran into Royals President Dan Glass in the lobby earlier this season. We exchanged brief hellos and then he reached into his pocket and pulled out four tickets for the very first row of the BATS Crown Seats.
“Do me a favor?” he asked. “Go out and ask a nice young family in Royals gear if they want to see Greinke pitch up close.”
That wouldn’t be a problem, I thought.
It was in section 412 of the upper deck where I found the perfect “winners” – a young family with an eight-year-old son and a six-year-old daughter. They told me that they lived about an hour and a half away and came out five or six times a year, but tonight was an impromptu trip because they really wanted to see Greinke pitch and, therefore, couldn’t bring the whole family.
“The whole family?” I asked. “What do you mean?”
“We had to leave our other four kids with my folks,” the man replied.
Six kids, I thought. I have ONE three-year-old daughter and taking her to a public restroom can be a crazy, mad-capped adventure, but taking SIX kids (all under the age of 10, I might add) to a baseball game…I imagine would require some real patience.
“So you and your wife bring your six kids out a half a dozen times a year?” I asked.
“We sure do. The kids love the games, and we love the Royals,” the man gently replied.
I think that pretty much sums it up.
Well, what can I say… What a weekend. Opening Day and the newly renovated Kauffman Stadium were spectacular. Over 38,000 fans, the rain had washed away and the sun was shining. Although the entire Pre-Game Ceremony was awesome (even Dayton Moore went out of his way to let folks know), two things really stood out for me. The first was a very moving video presentation that chronicled Royals’ history past and present. It was tremendous and even included local city shots and fans around town. The second was the performance of the National Anthem by Saxophonist Michael Phillips. AMAZING. I loved it. I knew of Mr. Phillips from the people in charge. I knew that he had performed the Anthem at the NBA Finals and at countless other venues, I even knew that he was gonna hold out one note for a really looooooong time. I did not know it would be that AWESOME. It was.
For those of you who missed Opening Day… bummer. I never really understood all the hoopla before, but after witnessing April 10, 2009, I’m not likely to miss it again.
The New K
Also Spectacular. So spectacular that the KC STAR notes that it is now “one of the very best stadiums in baseball — maybe the best.” I won’t disagree. The 360 degree experience is upgrade enough for me, but why stop there?
The Miller Lite Fountain Bar beyond Left Field looks to be a prime spot. Very Las Vegas feel. Sitting at the bar while being able to look over your shoulder at the kids playing in the “Little K” and having baseball spilled out right in front of you… pretty sweet. Now all we need is some blackjack tables. Another high profile area is clearly the standing room only section beyond the outfield. Packed. Great place to set up shop, and there are even counter tops to place your soda pops. The few times I ventured down this weekend, half the folks there told me their seats were elsewhere, but they just wanted to come watch the game from here. Be weary though, I’m told on sold out games you can’t get down there unless that’s your proper place.
I choose to highlight these two areas because it seems you can find info on many other stadium upgrades elsewhere. LIKE HERE, perhaps. Or for folks who like lots of pictures, why not HERE?
Finally we come to this, and yes, yes, I’m speaking of Reggie Jackson. On my way to a promotion during a game I happened to run into Mr. Jackson in the lobby of the Diamond Club. He was there “arranging” a glass vase filled with baseballs for a display of… umm… Baseballs in a vase, I guess. Now I’m usually not awe struck by players or celebrities and Reggie was no exception (although I really wanted to ask whatever happened to the “Reggie Bar“). My usual stance in these situations is to just file it away to tell friends about later. But this time I was thinking of YOU folks. The readers of the blog that might actually enjoy a picture of me and Mr. J. So… I thought I’d politely ask if I could get a quick pic for the blog.
Now I think it’s safe to say that if I’d gotten that picture, this is probably where you would be seeing it.
So… suffice it to say, I did not get the photo with Reggie. He really had to stay focused to organize those balls in that vase. It did look lovely, though.
Like 30 baseballs in a vase.
Anyhow, I guess things could be worse.
Many of you may have seen me around Kauffman Stadium last season. Well, I’m back, and now I have a blog. What better way to begin my blog and my 2009 season than with Spring Training…
A few weeks ago I was in Surprise, Arizona, for a total of eight days to do a little work for the Kansas City Royals. First off, the weather was incredible. Who am I, my Grandma? But…it was. I was brought out to shoot a few features with some players and to help out in any other way that I could.
I have to say, I love Jose Guillen. Last year when I told him one of the “clubhouse guys” wouldn’t let me in the clubhouse, he responded with, “Who wouldn’t let you in the clubhouse, man? Who? Show me where he is.”
Love the guy.
After I reminded him that he owes me a bottle of Cristal Rose from an event that happened last season, he assured me that when mama is in KC this season that she will cook us some authentic Dominican food, and I will indeed get my bottle of Champagne. We shall see.
A few other Highlights:
We shot a Miniature Golf “Tournament” with myself and a few of the pitchers for an installment of the “Who’s Got Game?” feature that we created last year.
We had Kyle Davies, Hoch, Banny, and Gil Meche join me on the links. These guys are hilarious. Banny and Davies showed up together all decked out to play Pebble Beach. They brought their own putters and balls. Meche showed up with his custom putter and Nike balls as well. My man Luke though…he’s old school. He said something like “when I show up to play putt-putt I expect to use a rusty iron rod and an orange ball.” Classic.
This pic is of the fellas “reading the green” of Hole 5. Note what the red sign says, clearly the boys missed it.
Another edition of “Who’s Got Game?” that we shot in AZ was a go-kart race. The participants of that race were myself, John Buck, Mike Aviles, Alex Gordon and Mark Teahen. Although I don’t have any pics of the race, I can assure you it was full of crashes and spin-outs. Relax…everyone is fine.
Unfortunately, I can’t give you any “winners” from those two events. You’ll just have to wait and see them on CrownVision out at The K. Needless to say, the guys are pretty competitive in all games. Not just baseball.
We also shot a new feature called “‘Major League’ Philosophy with Trey Hillman.” I think THIS is going to be awesome. We showed Trey some clips from the movie “Major League” and asked him how they related to his managerial philosophy. I chose the clips and some of Trey’s remarks are very insightful and almost everything is hilarious. Trey is awesome, and he, as well as just about everyone in the organization from Dayton Moore on down, have been very supportive and seem to genuinely like what we’ve been doing out at the Stadium. Speaking of Dayton, we’re hoping we can get him to make an appearance in one of our features this year as well. It’s all about timing.
In eight days we were able to shoot a lot of good stuff. Another feature we shot, that may end up being the most entertaining, is “Surprise! Behind the Scenes with Mike Aviles.” Mike took me on a tour of the Spring Training complex that included a trip to the weight room, equipment room, Team Kitchen and even into Dayton Moore’s office.
But for me, my favorite part of the trip was when we were invited to attend the first official Team meeting on Wednesday morning. That was cool. All the players seated by their lockers as Trey Hillman addressed the troops, “Gentlemen we are here with one goal… and that is to win the American League Central…”
I have to be honest… I mean, I know you’ve seen it dramatized in movies for decades, but just being there hearing the Skip say that, It gave me chills.