Heading Home with General Tso's

Blog Note – The Royals Caravan wrapped up its Kansas leg Wednesday with a rousing send-off in Lawrence. Royals Vice President of Public Relations, Toby Cook submits this final report from the road. You can read about the Royals Caravan on the home page of royals.com. MLB.com writer **** Kaegel will continue to report on caravan activities throughout January as well. And look for blog postings from Royals Director of Community Relations Ben Aken and his assistant Josh Diekmann next week from Nebraska.

Here’s a great excuse to carry out that New Year’s resolution and actually make it to the gym. The more you work out, the more you can eat and get away with it. That formula might not work for everyone. But it certainly carries weight, so to speak, with ball players. As you’ve been reading this week, caravan coordinator and Royals public relations superstar Lora Grosshans takes charge of these adventures. And Lora says she learned a long time ago that, if you keep Major Leaguers informed on what’s happening next and you feed them on a regular basis, they will sign every autograph request and then some.

So here we are at our last stop in a wild, three-day trip to beautiful towns and cities in Kansas. We made it to the Hy-Vee in Lawrence about 15 minutes late and found another huge line. Royals Player of the Year Mark Teahen, pitcher Todd Wellemeyer, and outfielder Shane Costa dutifully signed and signed, posed for photographs, and chatted it up with fans. One last request: Could someone check out the Chinese buffet just to the left of the signing area? We had noodles and General Tso’s chicken on the bus back to Kansas City. These guys burn a lot of energy staying in shape. We were just happy to provide the fuel.

This was a great start to the 2007 Winter Caravan season. After stops in Topeka, Manhattan, Junction City, Salina and Hutchinson on the first two days, our final day started with an hour-long spot on new Royals radio affiliate KSGO-AM in Wichita. For full disclosure, it was really about 40 minutes. Cole, our driver, was magnificent navigating that huge tour bus through big-city and small-town streets. The guy giving him directions to the radio station (the guy writing this blog) accidentally sent us to the opposite end of town. Oh, well. A chance to see more of Wichita. We made it fine to a great luncheon at Side Pockets restaurant, hosted by the Wichita Wranglers, where the players and Royals Assistant General Manager Dean Taylor signed their first thousand autograph cards. We took off north around 2 p.m. for a stop at the Emporia sports store Jock’s Nitch for another autograph session and then drove northeast for our final stop in Lawrence. Sluggerrr_kids_wichita_hyvee_ks_caravan__1 Sluggerrr thrilled parents and kids alike, some of whom dropped by on their way to the Kansas-Oklahoma State basketball game at Allen Fieldhouse. Royals broadcaster Ryan Lefebvre and former outfielder Brian McRae met and greeted their many fans. And Lora went to work ordering Chinese take-out.

Folks, I joined the front office back in August, so this was my first caravan experience from "this side" of the autograph table. I couldn’t help but remember how important these stops were to me as a boy when the Royals came to my hometown years ago. Now that one caravan’s finished, I can think back on the many memories of an excited Royals Nation and the anticipation of a new season soon. And I can only hope that we made some lifelong Royals fans. I know we made some lifelong friends. If I don’t get to the gym soon, I will have to go on that diet. Makes me wish I was a big leaguer all over again and could get away with all that Chinese.

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