Caravan Gets Taste of Spring

Blog Note – The Royals officially ended their 2007 Winter Caravan Tuesday with a trip to sunny Surprise, Ariz., the home of their spring training facilities. Public Relations Senior Director Lora Grosshans offers this inside look into the day’s activities. You can read about the Royals Caravan on the home page of royals.com.

Alright, so we weren’t technically finished with our caravan activities when the bus pulled into Kauffman Stadium on Saturday from our trip to southern Missouri and northwest Arkansas. We had one more important day of events left in our home away from home – Surprise, Ariz.

Sluggerrr and I repacked our bags and headed to sunny Arizona on Monday night for a full day of events on Tuesday, organized by our partners at the Surprise Recreation Complex.

As we were driving from our hotel to Surprise Stadium to get the day started, we soaked in all of the cactus flowers and palm trees lining the streets and thought of our poor, shivering friends back in the Kansas City area! JJudging from the look of the plush, green practice fields as we drove into the complex, Sluggerrr and I decided that spring training games could start immediately.

Once at the stadium, we met up with the stars of our show – catcher John Buck and outfielder Mitch Maier. Both Surprise residents, I might add. Along with the caravan organizer, Tara Combs, and our drivers, Paul and George, we set out to the Happy Trails Resort for our first stop. We had a nice group of baseball enthusiasts waiting for us…and for an 80th birthday party that was taking place later in the morning. After fielding some probing questions from the audience, which included a few smart Kansas Citians who had relocated for the winter, John and Mitch signed autographs for those in attendance and their kids, grandkids, nephews, nieces, kids in their neighborhood, etc. It was then off to the Sunflower Resort for a similar program. At this stop, we were placed right by the pool, so we knew it was going to be a good time!

After grabbing some lunch, it was off to Willow Canyon High School – a local school that has had its student body grow to around 2,000 since opening its doors in 2003. We met with some members of the freshman class and with the baseball team. John actually broke the ice by asking the always tough first question. "Who does your basketball team play next?" The Wildcats currently own a 22-4 record and are making a push to the playoffs. From there, the floodgates were open. The students probed the players for more than an hour with questions ranging from what pitch is the hardest to hit, to what they would be doing if they weren’t playing baseball, to what kind of cars they drive. The kids definitely took advantage of the opportunity to talk to Major Leaguers face-to-face!

As we said goodbye to the players and made our way to the airport, Sluggerrr and I braced ourselves for the cold temps and howling wind waiting for us in Kansas City. Now it is official. The 2007 Royals Caravan is in the books. Spring training can’t get here soon enough!

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