Homecomings in Nebraska
Blog Note – On Wednesday of the Nebraska Caravan the group visited Carter Lake, Iowa, as well as Omaha and Nebraska City, Neb. Community Relations Director Ben Aken offers these comments on the day’s activities. You can read about the Royals Caravan on the home page of royals.com. MLB.com writer **** Kaegel will also continue to report on caravan activities throughout the month.
There is something comforting about homecomings. The Royals Caravan trip to Nebraska provided several for members of this group.
Last fall, third base Coach Brian Poldberg asked if the Royals Caravan could visit Carter Lake Elementary School, in Carter Lake, Iowa — just outside of Omaha. This was, of course, the same school he and his three sons attended and where his wife Lori served as the PTA president for over nine years. It was apparent from our first arrival that the teachers and children of the school knew Brian more as a PTA parent than a Major League coach. However, he was able to introduce his ‘co-workers’ (Major League Baseball Players, a baseball legend, a radio broadcaster and a large dancing lion in a baseball uniform) to the kids, showing that there was another side of the man who brought popcorn to school throughout the winter. Needless to say, they were impressed!
Homecoming for Alex Gordon came in the form of an attention storm in Nebraska. From the moment we first pulled into inPlay for the Omaha Royals luncheon, people were looking for Alex. Several people came up to him for autographs, a camera crew directed their attention to him as he walked into the meeting room and the Omaha Royals organizers rushed up to give him directions on the day. However, Alex handled the situation with class and maturity: answering questions during the Q&A portion of the lunch, conducting several media interviews and signing a whole gaggle of autographs. However, one could expect Alex to receive this amount of attention in the Husker state. He was born in Lincoln, Neb. (a Royals fan none-the-less), played baseball at Lincoln Southeast High School, had an outstanding career at the University of Nebraska where he was awarded the Golden Spikes award (the equivalent of the Heisman Trophy for college baseball) and recently was named the Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year. So, needless to say, Nebraska is proud of their native son.
(This all after Alex experienced a crazy travel schedule which included being stranded in New Mexico with a blown tire, a friend’s wedding in Arizona and a Midwest snowstorm that canceled flights.)
Omaha was also familiar to pitcher Ryan Braun who spent over a month playing for the Royals minor league team, first baseman Ryan Shealy who played at Rosenblatt Stadium when he was with the Rockies Organization and Royals legend Frank White who played for the Omaha Royals in 1973.
Since I grew up in nearby Papillion, Neb., it was fantastic to see how downtown Omaha had changed throughout the last few years. Even better was seeing my dad and a few of his friends at the Luncheon on Tuesday. For our traveling party, these homecomings felt good.