Chicago White Sox
Kansas City Royals
W: H. Santiago
L: J. Guthrie
Watching the All-Star festivities in Kansas City during the 2012 season is one of the things that motivated me to do this tour. Kauffman stadium looked so beautiful and fun from my couch that I just had to go visit. Kansas City has a proud tradition of baseball that includes the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues. After the 1985 World Series their franchise has gone through a rough time. I am happy to see that although the team has not lived up to expectations quite yet, their fans are coming out to the park and are better than ever.
I arrived a little earlier than I had anticipated and took a stroll around the stadium. There is a great view from behind the scoreboard on top of a hill where I was able to snap a nice photo. I came across a couple of tailgaters grilling and throwing a baseball around, but it was a little too hot to hang out on the asphalt today. Still, after Miami and Tampa, I was glad to see a baseball game with the sun shining down on me.
As I stood in line waiting for the gates to open I began to notice that there a lot of families and children gathering by the entrance. The fan demographics of the games I have been attending lean more towards the older side. In Atlanta there were a lot of kids in their teens and twenties and of course there are always families at the ballpark, but there seemed to be a lot more here in Kansas City. I found out why once we got inside.
This is only the ninth stop on the tour so it is too early to crown a winner, however this is by far the most kid friendly park I have been to. For today's game Royals' mascot Sluggerrr was signing autographs for the kids which is not unique to Kauffman Stadium, but it added to the other luxuries installed for the benefit of the young ones. There was a mini golf course, a fountain to play in, a mini field and more. There was also a section where kids could run the 90 feet from home plate to first base and compare their times to Billy Butler, Alex Gordon and other Royals position players.
Not only was there a lot of activities for the kids to take part in, the Kansas City Hall of Fame is educational and a lot of fun. The Hall of Fame is visible from the stands and once you enter, the picture windows inside open up to a marvelous view of the field. Best of all the museum is free. There is gentleman who is dressed in old-timey baseball gear who gives a tour of the museum. The gates for this game opened an hour and a half before first pitch so I didn't have time to stick around for the tour, but I did browse through some of the exhibits by myself. With all of the talk of St. Louis being a “baseball city” Kansas City often gets forgotten about. This museum is a wonderful reminder of the baseball legacy and passionate fan base that is born out of the KC in the heart of America.
Tonight was “Buck Night” at the stadium so hot dogs, peanuts and sodas were all $1 each. This was an offer too good to pass up, so I headed over to the Fry Works and picked up a hot dog and some garlic fries. The hot dog was fine (being a dollar bumped it up to “great”), but the fries were a disappointment. St. Louis and Kansas City will most likely rank near the top of my list when it comes to baseball experience, but they are currently both at the very bottom when it comes to food.
While I was standing in line waiting to enter the stadium, I met three lovely women with whom I briefly chatted with about the park. As I walked around the stadium, out of the corner of my eye I caught a young man getting down on one knee. I attempted to take my camera out as quickly as possible, but I missed the proposal by mere seconds. I left the couple to their happiness and continued to explore the stadium. After the game I got back to my hotel and began going through my photos. The moment I got to the blurry photo I had taken of a man hugging his new fiance, I received an email from one of the women I had met in line. These were two of their kids and they had planned a surprise engagement party for them at the stadium. Apparently they were going through their pictures and caught me digging for my camera during the big moment. Congratulations to Dustin and Lauren, I hope I didn't ruin too many of your pictures!
My seats for today's game were incredible. I sat mere feet away from Royals newly appointed hitting coach and MLB Hall of Famer George Brett for nine innings. Sitting behind me was a family of Royals season tickets holders with whom I had a great chat with throughout the game. I talked with my fellow seat mates about the attendance and was told that the city is ready for a winning team and that the fans are willing to support this club by coming out and staying until the bitter end.
With Jeremy Guthrie on the mound and a sluggish Royals offense, the smart money was on a low scoring game. The White Sox had other plans however as they roughed up Guthrie for six runs chasing him out of the game in the third inning. To make things worse, Royals reliever Bruce Chen came into the game and promptly gave up a three run bomb to Dayan Viciedo on his second pitch out of the bullpen. The Royals avoided the shutout thanks to Eric Hosmer's 455 foot dinger, but it was a rough night for the home team.
This was a regular season game between two teams who were a combined 14 games under .500 in June, yet there were over 30,000 fans who came out and stayed until well after the final pitch. Some may hypothesize that it was because of the fireworks show after the game, but I have been to many a firework night at the ballpark and I have never seen that many people stay just for the show.
These fans in KC are craving a good ball club and they are willing it to happen by showing up and cheering until the final out. I have seen walk-offs and blowouts on this tour and the one thing that has been consistent is the 8th inning mass exodus. This was the first game where even the upper deck remained full despite the Royals getting bludgeoned 9-1.
As a Tigers fan I have witnessed the Royals ineptitude closely for the past couple of decades. I have the proper amount of disdain for the team as a division rival, but especially after being a guest in their home, it is hard for me to root against this franchise. The stadium is unique and the scoreboard is a sight to behold, if they could string a few victories together ever once in a while I do believe that this park has a chance to be one of the best in the country. Whether or not the team wins or loses there are no other stadiums that will provide you a better view than from the standing room section in the outfield.
Next up: Houston Astros
First Pitch: Local girl
Game Time Temp: 89
First Pitch Time: 7:10 PM
Sixth Inning Stretch: Friends in Low Places
Total Pitches Thrown: 269
Total Hits: 14
Total Singles: 6
Total Doubles: 5
Total Triples: 0
Total Home Runs: 3
Total Walks: 5
Total Strike Outs: 11
Total Errors: 1
Game Time: 2:26
Attendance: 33,830 (89.3% full)
Home Plate Umpire: Tim Welke
Miles Traveled: 55 miles
Time in Car: 1 hour 20 minutes
Sleep Time: 6 Hours 15 minutes
Bottles of Water: 7
Food Eaten: Peaches, breakfast bar
Ballpark Food: Hot dog, garlic fries, Ice Cream helmet,
All Star Game Ballots filled out: 1
Money spent on parking: $10.00
Money spent on ticket: $67.00
Cost of Program: Free
Money spent on food: $14.50
Total money spent on Merchandise: $20.00
Total Money spent at stadium: $111.50
Total Money spent today $111.50