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Baseball is Back (With the Longest First Pitch in History)

As the late, great broadcasting legend Mel Allen liked to say, “How about that!” As the tulips bloom, convertible tops come down and the spring air hits us like a screaming line drive, baseball is back.  

In Kansas City, the Royals are still reveling from their fall triumph against the New York Mets and awaiting the voice of PA announcer Mike McCarthy from Platte Wood, Missouri as he introduces Kauffman Stadium to “Your Defending World Champion Royals.”  The Boys in Blue kick things off Sunday evening with a fun league first: the Mets and the Royals will be the first teams that battled in the previous World Series to play in the subsequent season opener.     

Amid the festivities leading up to the game, it was exciting to learn of another exciting first.  The Royals and the KC Urban Youth League gathered together 3,000 fans for the longest first pitch in baseball history. They called it, “Relay the Way.”  Donors could fund a spot in a winding, nine-mile line that advanced the ball to Kauffman Stadium.  

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The journey started at historic Union Station, just a stone’s throw from the National World War One Museum. It was the same location where the World Series parade culminated last year following Kansas City’s 5-game victory last fall.  

Then, the ball moved east past the iconic Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM) where they are planning to build a set of four fields for a new Urban Academy.  Earlier in the week, we learned that the gregarious, beloved Salvador Perez donated $1 million to the project.  Pitcher Chris Young and team leader Alex Gordon also made donations.  The late Buck O’Neil had always imagined that a key part of the mission of the museum would be to engage with urban youth teaching them about both baseball and life.

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From there, the ball continued to progress its way toward Kauffman Stadium.  There are, for those planning an outing to The K in the coming weeks, improvements to be found there.  Rivals Sports Bar in the outfield has been improved.  The Frank White Lounge also offers several new suite opportunities for what the Royals clearly believe will be elevated business and out-of-town interest in the team.  Most notably, there are new additions to the Hall of Fame, including wrapping the front glass in the aerial shot of the above World Series celebration at Union Station.  According to press reports, the ceremonial ball contains a computer that will allow it to store messages.  Those messages will scroll in the Royals Hall of Fame area of the stadium once the ball crosses home plate.

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And so, a little bit of history has been made before a single cleat is set down on the turf at The K.  Many in Kansas City are hoping that the World Champion Royals will return to form and compete for post-season glory.  However, as the late Mel Allen often intoned, “And that one is gone.”  To borrow the phrase, the 2015 season is in the record books.  The phrases of the past year –1738, Moooose, Blue October–are history.  

Hope springs eternal.  The 2016 season has finally arrived.  For the Royals and every team in baseball, it’s time to play ball. 

Powers Trigg

Posted in MLB, Other Tagged with: , , , ,
3 comments on “Baseball is Back (With the Longest First Pitch in History)
  1. LKiene says:

    Perfect weather for the Royals home opener and the raising of the 2015 World Series Banner. How sweet! The 2016 schedule was set back in the fall before the World Series opponents had been determined and what poor luck the Mets had to have to witness the raising of the banner first hand. I just hope it doesn’t make them hungrier for a repeat.

    It sure does feel fantastic to have the opening game WIN under our belt! The now 1-0 Royals, true to last year, kept me nervous until the final out. Even with “hot” Hosmer knocking hitting three against Harvey and Lo-Cain getting on base 3x and crossing the plate twice…I was again thankful for Steady Eddy getting through 6 innings.

    Soria’s return to the Royals did not bode well allowing three runs on three hits with two walks. Certainly made fans, including this one, ask why?!? And then when Ned seemed to wait a couple of at bats too long, I thought we were getting “Yosted” yet again. Thankfully Wade finally arrived and kept the runs at bay and closed up the night with the W.

    The sweet enthusiasm of baseball is definitely back in the air in KC and the fans are anxiously wanting the success from last year to continue. Can we repeat? What a huge feat that would be! I, for one, just really hope we don’t have to wait another 30 years to hoist a banner. I have seen how much Kansas City has embraced the Royals and it has brought the city so much closer and out of our deep 30 year baseball lack of world series depression.

    It is incredibly inspiring to see that through their success, the field(s) of dreams like those of Buck O’Neil on 18th & Vine are going to finally be realized. Kansas City has long been known as a great city of philanthropy and to have the players, like Salvy and Gordon contribute significantly to the revitalization and success of Urban League baseball further endears them to the city and us to them. They are becoming exemplar role models for the city youth. It is a special team, that grew up together in the minors and we are lucky, thanks to the hard work of Dayton Moore, that they are ours – whether they win or lose (but I sure prefer the wins – just wish they could secure them before the 9th)

    Take me out to the ball game – watching any game at Kauffman Stadium “the K” is a treat. I’ll gladly cheer on our boys in blue. Cheers to a great winning season – especially watch those Astros and Indians. Those are must win games in my opinion to win the division. GO ROYALS! (PS – I vote to lose the gold uniforms and gold caps – one game was enough – far too flashy for this home grown Midwestern team).

  2. DT says:

    It will be interesting to see what the Royals can do. The loss of Zobrist and Cueto are a major change from last year (at least after the trade deadline).

    The big question, just like last year, is starting pitching. They need Ventura to be better than 2015 and also need to get some quality starts from Ian Kennedy (the pre-AZ version). It should be a fun 162-game journey. I wouldn’t be against them.

  3. Sturges says:

    Great piece. It is great to have baseball back. I have the Royals doing well this year, winning 86 games and making it to the postseason.

    Let’s hear from Adam. He is the sharpest baseball mind on this site. Who makes the World Series this year, Adam?

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