Blog Note – The Royals Caravan headed into east-central Kansas Monday for a three-day, eight-city trip. Throughout the trip, Royals folks will be posting daily blogs from the road. This posting from the trip’s first day comes from Royals Vice President of Public Relations, Toby Cook. You can read about the Royals Caravan on the home page of royals.com. MLB.com writer **** Kaegel will report on caravan activities throughout January as well.
I couldn’t help but notice Byron Shores studying the moves of Willie Wildcat Monday night. Willie is the mascot for Kansas State University Athletics, while Byron is the mascot coordinator for the Royals. Oh, who are we kidding? The big cat is already out of the bag. Byron is the guy who wears the Sluggerrr suit and plays an integral part of the second leg of the 2007 Royals Caravan.
This week we are traveling I-70 and points beyond to meet rabid Royals fans with Royals General Manager Dayton Moore and Royals 2006 Player of the Year Mark Teahen leading the crew. Leaving from “The K” early Monday morning, we made our first stop at Jeremiah Bullfrogs restaurant in Topeka. Royals broadcaster Ryan Lefebvre hosted an hour-long luncheon with sponsors of WIBW Radio, who asked probing questions of Moore, Teahen, outfielder Shane Costa and pitcher Todd Wellemeyer. After the luncheon, the restaurant opened a huge second story area to the public for an autograph session where Byron jumped onto our tour bus parked out front to suit up and electrify the crowd with his “Sluggerrr” antics.
We said goodbye to the state capital mid-afternoon and traveled west on the interstate to Manhattan for a quick stop at the hotel. Bus driver Cole delivered us to Paddy O’Quigley’s on the west side of town for another autograph session, hosted by Royal radio affiliate KMAN.
Somewhere along the way, a debate broke out about our evening plans. Do we find a restaurant with lots of TVs to watch the National Championship college football game or do we accept the K-State Athletic Department’s invitation for courtside seats to Monday’s match-up with Texas Tech? With Florida pulling away from Ohio State early, we knew we had made the right choice to bus out to Bramlage Coliseum.
Ryan joined the K-State radio broadcast as a halftime guest, while Dayton sat behind the K-State bench as a guest of the University and the rest of us watched Texas Tech keep the Wildcats at bay in a disappointing loss for the home crowd.
(Side note – K-State Coach Bob Huggins made famed Red Raiders Coach Bobby Knight look mild this night. Huggins didn’t look like he wanted to “hug” a soul!)
But we did find a warm embrace all day long from Royals fans on an exciting first day. Look for a post Wednesday on our second day of the trip and an account of our events in Junction City, Salina and Hutchinson, Kan. Meanwhile, Byron says he has learned a few new moves but won’t be wearing Wildcat purple any time soon – he still prefers donning Royal blue!