Royals Caravan: Strong to the End
Blog Note – The Royals wrapped up another Winter Caravan trip this past weekend. Community Relations Manager Josh Diekmann offers these thoughts on Friday’s and Saturday’s activities from the road. You can read about the Royals Caravan on the home page of royals.com where MLB.com writer **** Kaegel continues to report on caravan activities.
We quickly found out that taking it easy on the final two days of the Royals Winter Caravan through the Midwest was not going to be an option. Not only did we pack in a ton of stops into a short period of time, but we also found ourselves staring down huge lines of Royals fans that are more than geared up for some Royals baseball.
On Friday morning we got an early start, appearing as the guests of honor at a breakfast reception hosted by our Springdale (Ark.) affiliate, KREB Radio, and Rich Baseball Operations. There was no denying from the breakfast, which had nearly 70 people in attendance and an amazing buffet, that Springdale, the future home of our Double-A affiliate, is excited to be getting professional baseball in northwest Arkansas. The group had great energy and, during an intense Q&A session, quickly got our Caravan crew of David DeJesus , Joey Gathright, “Big John” Mayberry and Royals Director of Player Development J.J. Picollo awake and on their toes.
After stuffing ourselves at breakfast, we headed back to our hotel for a little break and then hit a local shopping center to kill some time – a favorite pastime for ballplayers on the Royals Caravan. We then met back up with the folks from Rich Baseball Operations, who directed us to a meet-and-greet at Jose’s Southwest Grille. Signing in the tight quarters of the restaurant proved to be quite a challenge for DeJesus and Gathright, who aren’t used to playing so close together in Kauffman Stadium’s expansive outfield.
We grabbed lunch before heading out for a surprise visit to R.E. Baker Elementary School, where we met the most excited group of Kindergarten through fourth graders I have ever encountered at an assembly. These kids had a million questions for the guys and were off-the-wall ecstatic when Sluggerrr showed up. We all pretty much agreed that the school visit was good but exhausting, especially for first-time Royals Caravan participant Gathright. While the rest of us concluded Friday’s caravan with a late dinner at a Texas Roadhouse in Springfield, Mo., Joey headed for the hotel to hit the sack.
Our final day of the caravan started with a stop that catcher John Buck, who is an outdoor enthusiast, would have loved to be a part of – the Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World in Springfield. We arrived to a long line of fans and ended up signing autographs for more than an hour and then fielding several questions from the local media. The stop was great and completely prepared us for our stop at the Benson Convention Center’s Quad Lakes, Hunting, Fishing and Water Expo in Clinton, Mo.
Arriving a little late to the outdoor expo, we were surprised to see such a good group waiting for us. The guys signed for nearly an hour, while Sluggerrr used his popularity to try and steal the show again. It almost completely worked, too, until the big lion met his match: a little Royals fan who wouldn’t quit crying! It took a little coaxing, but Sluggerrr finally worked his magic to win her over. She’ll be a Royals fan for life now!
With little energy left, we packed up and headed to our final stop of the caravan. Our radio affiliate in Warrensburg, Mo., set up a meet-and-greet for us at Lotspeich Motors, where we showed up to a showroom full of Royals fans waiting in line for autographs. The crowd’s enthusiasm re-energized us, and we signed for a solid hour before packing it up again and heading home, closing the book on another chapter of the Royals Winter Caravan. After meeting so many great, supportive fans, we can’t wait for April 2 and the Boston Red Sox. Thanks to all you Loyal Royal Fans for a great Winter Caravan!