I was pretty anxious to get to KC, I heard great things about Kauffman Stadium.
Kansas City baseball dates all the way back to 1888 with the Kansas City Blues. In 1955 the Philadelphia Athletics moved to town. They stayed there for 11 seasons until moving to Oakland. There was once season that KC was without baseball and in that time the St. Louis Cardinals and the Minnesota Twins periodically would play in KC so that the city wasn’t without baseball. The Royals played at Kansas City Municipal stadium until 1973 when Kauffman Stadium, “The K,” was completed. It is named after their owner Ewing Kauffman. His wife was also instrumental in the building of the park. Kansas City has the second most water fountains in the world behind Rome. Mrs. Kauffman wanted intertwine the city’s love affair with water fountains into their park. Apparently, it “wasn’t in the original budget” and Mr. Kauffman was not willing to incorporate the idea. Mrs. K was persistent though. You now see the largest privately funded water fountain in the world circulating 720,000 gallons of water, creating a beautiful backdrop along the outfield wall.
Dick Howser managed the team for the last part of the 1981 season until 1987 when he died of cancer. Though his career in KC was short lived, he is highly respected and the number 10 is retired in his honor. He turned around a crumbling, young team in 1985 to win their first and only World Series title.
The K has the 2nd largest scoreboard in MLB, Second to only the Seattle Mariners. To give you a perspective, check out the picture of it below the balls on top of the crown alone are 8 feet tall. Another awesome part of the park is the dugout suite. It is right next to the home team dugout and on field level. Definitely a cool perspective.
The K was also renovated in 2009 adding a wonderful outfield experience. It was awarded the 2012 All Star Game and during the home run derby Mark Trumbo hit a ball so far that it hit the top of the Hall of Fame. That ball now resides as the only non-Royal member in the hall (minus of course the yearly Cooperstown exhibits). During this All Star game, each fan was given either a red, white, or blue t-shirt to wear at the time allotted. There was an arial picture taken from above in which the stadium looked like an American Flag was painted on the seats, thanks to the involvement of all of the fans wearing the correct color shirt. Look closely at the stands in the picture of a picture below and you can see what I am talking about.
Luckily, the rain started to clear up a couple hours before game time and it turned out to be a beautiful night for baseball. We got a free KC Royals T-shirt thanks to T-shirt Tuesday at the park…it is an XL though so I gained a new PJ shirt. Before the game we noticed that their was a much older fan base than some of the other parks. During the game you could hear the sounds of the water fountains, which is definitely unique to that stadium. The screen was seriously massive, I cannot believe there is one bigger. The lion mascot, Sluggerrr, was highly involved in the game and the in between inning festivities on the scoreboard. The crowd had a chance to meet Sluggerrr by texting the correct answer to a trivia question that came on the board after the first inning. The winner was announced in the top of the 5th. The away scoreboard cycled through electronically and if you tweeted with the hashtag #RoyalsTweets your tweet may be feature on one of the screens that runs across the second deck.
Two cool things I noticed about shopping at the K were that they had a full New Era store and you can buy game used Royal memorabilia.
There is a red seat that sits right behind home plate and is the Buck O’ Neil legacy seat. Buck was the first black coach in Major League Baseball. This is seat is rewarded to a member of the community for doing some kind of awesome service to another or a member of a meaningful community service organization. It is a reward for the people, nominated by the people. They are recognized on the scored board after the 2nd inning. Unfortunately the home team lost to the Twins 3-0.
I was super excited to meet up with MegaBus Matt at this KC game! Matt is doing a 25 day, 25 game tour to raise money for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and he only budgeted $700!!!! I won’t steal his thunder because his story is incredible, so check it out for yourself. http://www.megabusmatt.com He is an awesome person and I am lucky that our journeys’ will meet again in DC and to get to catch another game with him.
KC is also very proud of their contribution to breaking the color barrier in baseball. They were home to the most well know Negro League team, the Kansas City Monarchs. Most have heard of this team because Jackie Robinson played for them before becoming the first ever African-American MLB player for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Buck O’ Neil was the manager of the Kansas City Monarchs and played a great role in creating the Negro Baseball Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame is located in the famous “18th & Vine” district. This area was made popular during the 40s and was a birthplace of Kansas City Jazz.
The Museum was incredible! We watched a short documentary on baseball history….which I am always down to learn more. The Field of Legends was an imitation field with statues of a player at each position including Satchel Paige pitching and Josh Gibson behind the plate. I definitely daydreamed about what it would be like to actually be on the field with these amazing people…best daydream ever. The museum was full of information we spent a couple hours during filling our heads and taking in some incredible baseball history. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take pictures inside the museum…you will just gave to go for yourself!
And of course we HAD to get some authentic KC BBQ while we were in town. We went to world famous Arthur Bryan’s, it was totally cliche and totally delicious. I also saw so much excitement over the Boulevard Brewing company, it is a local favorite. I tried their Pale Ale with our BBQ lunch and I must say it was pretty good too, a great version of a Pale.
Kansas City was surprisingly more awesome than I expected with a ton of stuff to do. And I think “The K” was absolutely gorgeous.
I though that sign was quite fitting.