January 2008

New Member of Royals Family

The Royals extended family keeps growing…no, we aren’t talking about a trade or a new signing this time, but rather a little Royal blue bundle of joy!

On Tuesday, Royals Vice President of Community Affairs & Publicity Toby Cook and his wife, Barbara, welcomed a baby boy – Andrew Ryan Cook – to their family!

Congrats on the newest addition, Cook family – we’ll look forward to seeing little Andrew in Powder Blue this season!

Royals HOF Class of 2008: Art Stewart

Art_cropped Art Stewart is the longest tenured associate with the club and, this season, he’ll be honored for his dedication and contribution to the Royals.

We just announced that Art – who can often be found scouting Royals games from his seat behind home plate at Kauffman Stadium – will be inducted into the Royals Hall of Fame in 2008.

Congratulations, Art!

Following is the official release from Media Relations.

KANSAS CITY, MO (Jan. 29, 2006) — Art Stewart, the Royals Senior Advisor to General Manager Dayton Moore, will represent the Kansas City Royals Hall of Fame class of 2008, becoming the 23rd member of the elite group. On-field induction ceremonies will be scheduled at a later date.          

“There is no one more deserving of this prestigious honor than Art Stewart,” Royals President Dan Glass said. “He has devoted over 50 years to the game of baseball, the last 39 with the Kansas City Royals organization. His passion and knowledge is an inspiration to everyone in the baseball community."

Stewart, entering his 39th season with the Royals, is the longest tenured associate in the organization. The 2007 winner of the Roland Hemond Award, presented by Baseball America for long-time service in scouting and player development, has held the position of Senior Advisor to the General Manager since 1997 after serving as the Royals Director of Scouting from 1984-96.

During Stewart’s tenure as Director of Scouting, the Royals were named Major League Baseball Organization of the Year by USA Today in 1984, Baseball America in 1994, and Topps in 1984-85 and 1994-95. Stewart drafted more than 70 players that reached the Major Leagues, including Bo Jackson, Kevin Appier, Brian McRae, Mike Sweeney, Johnny Damon, Joe Randa and Carlos Beltran. He is a 15-year member on the Major League Scouting Bureau Board of Directors.

Stewart has played a major role in the origination of the Royals Dominican program, helping the club start the Salcedo Academy in the Dominican Republic. Stewart was recognized in 1998 when the former Royals Academy building was named in his honor.

Before joining the Royals front office, he spent 16 years covering the Midwest as a Royals scout. He began his career in professional baseball in 1953 as a territorial scout for the New York Yankees and was the Midwest Scouting Supervisor from 1958-69.

Stewart has received numerous awards during his 54 years in baseball, including the Ewing M. Kauffman Scouting Award in 1970 and 1983. In 1998 he received an award “For Long Meritorious Service to Baseball” from colleagues and the Topps Company. He received the Bing Devine Executive of the Year Award at the second St. Louis Major League Scouts Hall of Fame Banquet in 1998 and was named “Mister Baseball” at the 29th Kansas City Royals Awards Banquet in January of 1999. Stewart was honored prior to the 2002 season at the Pitch and Hit Club of Chicago’s 56th Annual Dinner with the prestigious Baseball Excellence Award, given for meritorious service to the game of baseball.

Here’s where the list of Royals HOF inductees stands:

  • 1986: Pitcher Steve Busby and Outfielder Amos Otis
  • 1987: Manager **** Howser, Second Baseman Cookie Rojas and Pitcher Paul Splittorff
  • 1989: Pitcher Dennis Leonard and Designated Hitter Hal McRae
  • 1992: Club President Joe Burke, Pitcher Larry Gura and Shortstop Fred Patek
  • 1993: Owner Ewing Kauffman
  • 1994: Third Baseman George Brett
  • 1995: Second Baseman Frank White
  • 1996: Royals First Lady Muriel Kauffman and first baseman John Mayberry
  • 1998: Relief pitcher Dan Quisenberry
  • 2000: Manager Whitey Herzog and outfielder Willie Wilson 
  • 2003: Pitcher Jeff Montgomery
  • 2004: Radio Announcer Denny Matthews
  • 2005: Pitcher Bret Saberhagen
  • 2006: Pitcher Mark Gubicza

FanFest Photos

Did we see you at the 2008 Royals FanFest?

Check out the FanFest photo galleries that just went up on royals.com highlighting the two-day event. Photo galleries from our Caravan tours around the region will be up soon!

Countdown Begins

As we head into this last week in January/first week of February – with moderating temperatures to boot in KC – keep this in mind: Royals GM Dayton Moore and new manager Trey Hillman leave for spring training in LESS than two weeks. Most of the players follow a few days later, and more than just pitchers and catchers will report early.
Final estimated numbers for the first-ever Royals FanFest last weekend: 3,200 people on Friday and 6,200 on Saturday for a total much closer to 10,000 (9,400) than anyone expected. Thanks again. We’ll put out info on FanFest II before you know it.

Caravan News…Nebraska Edition

A recap of the Royals Caravan trip through Nebraska/Iowa…

Sluggerrr_caravan The Nebraska/Iowa leg of the Royals Caravan found lots of “blue” in cities normally dominated by Husker red. Fans showed up in droves throughout the trip. We saw a line of fans snake its way through a restaurant in Kearney, 400 people lined up inside and outside of a sports bar in Alex Gordon’s hometown of Lincoln, and a sold-out luncheon with the Omaha Royals. 

The caravan tour included Royals players Gordon and Mark Teahen, Royals Hall of Famer John Mayberry, Broadcaster Ryan Lefebvre, Vice President – Baseball Operations/Assistant General Manager Dean Taylor and Sluggerrr.

It was obvious from our first stop at Indian Creek Mall in Beatrice, Neb., that Nebraskans were excited to see one of their own in Gordon. The line of more than 250 worked its way out the door of the mall in anticipation of meeting the former collegiate Player of the Year at Nebraska. However, the fan base on the caravan was not completely one-sided. Several females came for autographs clad in “Mrs. Teahen” jerseys, seeking autographs from their favorite Royal.

Gordon_signing In addition, many fans were excited to talk to “long-time” Royals announcer Lefebvre who has become very familiar on radios and television sets throughout the state. (The “long-time” distinction for Lefebvre became a hot topic on the bus as his 10-year tenure may not seem that long compared to Denny Matthews’ 40-plus years in the booth.) He was sought out by several fans including 78-year-old Chester who listens to Royals broadcasts from the tractor while working the fields in Ravenna, Neb., to 12-year-old LT who took on Gordon in a free-throw contest during a school assembly in York, Neb. 

At Gomez Heritage Elementary school in Omaha, Lefebvre asked the audience “Who here has seen John Mayberry play?” Immediately, hundreds of 5- to 10-year-olds’ hands shot up in the air. Chuckles were heard from several teachers who knew the impact “Big John” had on the team while playing in a Royals uniform in the mid-1970’s.  Mayberry, Gordon and Teahen joined Lefebvre to share baseball and life lessons. 

Taylor was sought out for interviews along the trip from radio hosts looking to pick his brain about the direction of the team. He shared the updates on recent signings and the excitement the organization has for new manager Trey Hillman. We appreciated Taylor taking time away from a busy month full of arbitration negotiations and Spring Training planning. 

As the caravan wrapped up another successful year, one thing was clear: the Royal Faithful in the Husker State cannot wait for baseball season. 

Look for Caravan and FanFest photo galleries on royals.com tomorrow!

Royals Caravan Update: Kansas Trip

After two days of FanFest and the first two days of the Royals Caravan tour through Kansas, we aren’t quite sure how these players – Billy Butler, David DeJesus and Joey Gathright – are still able to hold onto a pen. After all, the trio, along with Royals Hall of Fame pitcher Dennis Leonard, broadcaster Steve Stewart and GM Dayton Moore, have signed their John Hancocks to baseballs, bats, gloves, hats, autograph cards and even a Royals chip platter. That’s right, on the fourth leg of the 2008 Royals Caravan tour it’s all handshakes, ink pens and Sharpies…

We left from Kansas City Monday morning – not as early as the caravan trip to Nebraska, but still pretty early for those of us recovering from our busy FanFest weekend. Day one in Kansas included stops at a Junction City auto dealership, a Manhattan bar and grill as well as a Wal-Mart in Salina. At each stops, the crowds got larger and the Royal blue was more prominent. Once we put in some extra time at the Salina Wal-Mart – and loaded up on some extra snacks for the bus – we headed to our hotel for some much needed sleep before what we knew would be a long, long Tuesday. Royalscaravan6

It’s hard to forget about Greensburg, Kan. On May 4, 2007, a tornado hit the town and left it pretty much demolished. The Royals first visit to Greensburg was just a few short weeks after the twister touched ground. The second trip was Tuesday. We drove the Caravan bus into town around noon, just in time to stop in at The Lunch Box for a quick bite to eat. Following our lunch (and with our milkshakes in hand!) we headed over to the school to visit with the Greensburg students, who asked the players everything from who’s your favorite baseball player to "Joey, will you go to prom with me?" (Prom night was a game night, so Gath politely declined). Fred White closed out the assembly by announcing that the Royals would be hosting a "Field of Dreams" game in Greensburg later this season.

From Greensburg, we headed to Hutchinson, where the line of fans snaked around the mall’s food court and into the Hobby Lobby store. The players signed. The player shook hands. The players posed for pictures. The players got back on the bus. Onto Wichita…with a new set of fans to meet!

Now, all checked into the hotel in Wichita for the night, our heads are hitting the pillow fast. And, for the guys who have been signing their names like crazy all over Kansas…let’s hope their hands re-coop enough for Wednesday because it’s Emporia, Topeka and Lawrence and we are positive the Royal blue will continue to be out in record numbers!

Minor League Awards Announced

This entry is getting posted from the Royals Caravan bus, but isn’t about Royals Caravan…yet! The Kansas tour just wrapped up a visit to Greensburg, Kan., and we are now heading to Hutchinson before finishing Day Two in Wichita. We’ll have a full caravan report once we hit the hotel in Wichita. But, until then…

On Tuesday, Media Relations announced the overall minor league player and pitcher of the year. Here are the details from the release:

The Kansas City Royals have named infielder Mike Aviles and left-handed pitcher Rowdy Hardy the Alex George Royals Minor League Players of the Year for 2007.

Aviles, 26, had a tremendous season for Triple-A Omaha, hitting .296 (159-for-538) with 27 doubles, six triples, 17 home runs, 77 RBI and 78 runs scored. He led the O-Royals in hits, RBI, runs, at-bats and triples while playing games at second base, third base and shortstop. The resident of Middletown, N.Y., picks up his second Royals Minor League Player of the Year award after winning in 2003 while playing for the Surprise Royals. Aviles was the Royals seventh round pick in the 2003 Draft.

Hardy, 25, dominated in the Carolina League in 2007, compiling a 15-5 mark with a 2.48 ERA in 26 appearances, including 22 starts. The 6-foot-3, 170-pound lefty started the Class A All-Star Game and was also named the Carolina League Pitcher of the Year following the season in a vote of league managers. Hardy tossed three complete games and issued just 16 walks in 167 innings. A Tennessee resident, Hardy was signed by the Royals as a non-drafted free agent in 2006.

Caravans Continue

Look for new postings very soon from the road – the very cold and sometimes snowy roads of Kansas and Nebraska – as the 2008 Royals Winter Caravans continue. We have players, alumni, and staff at various locations Tuesday, including two stops in Omaha, Neb., and Greensburg, Kan. Greensburg’s the town west of Wichita devastated by a tornado last May. Several from the Royals front office made a goodwill trip to Greensburg days after the cleanup, and our Tuesday caravan stop served as a reminder that Royals Nation hasn’t forgotten about their efforts to rebuild the town. You’ll get more details from the road, but the dispatches back to KC (through sometimes spotty cell coverage) indicate great crowds at each stop and excited Royals fans.

Happy MLK Day

Greetings from home. I haven’t seen this place in a while. Many of us in the Royals front office have a day to rest after many weeks and months preparing for our first-ever Royals FanFest. The Club is also supporting activities honoring the memory of Martin Luther King, Jr. And then there are those who can’t rest until mid-week. Megan Stock, Josh Diekmann, Lora Grosshans and Ben Aken from our community affairs and publicity department (the acronym is CAP!) are taking current Royals and alumni out on the third and fourth legs of our annual Winter Caravan. They’ll be in Nebraska and Kansas after successful caravans last week to Missouri and Arkansas. Many thanks to all who are spreading the message that the Royals season is not that far off. Many thanks to the nearly 10,000 attendees who exceeded our expectations for the inaugural FanFest. And many thanks for an occasional day of rest. — Toby Cook, VP of CAP

FanFest: Down to the Wire

We are less than two days away from when the doors at the Overland Park Convention Center swing open for FanFest…have you bought your tickets yet? 

Well, it’s been a busy, busy week for us here in the front office – confirming players’ travel arrangements, breaking down final event scheduling, packing up promotions, schedules, supplies. holding volunteer meetings and more! But, even with all the work, we can’t wait to get the ball rolling and get this event off the ground!

On Wednesday, crews began piecing together the floor plan – assembling the batting cages, testing out the speed pitch and placing the Royal Blue carpet that will lead fans through the exhibit hall. Thursday – before the "Mark Teahen…Challenge Your Fashion" event – a handful of us will head out there to help set up the odds and ends and then Friday we welcome you…

But, before all that…here’s some more FanFest-related info:

PARKING: Parking at FanFest is free! The main parking lot is situated on the north side of the Overland Park Convention Center. The best doors to enter are right off of that parking lot and the main exhibit hall is right up the escalator.

SCHEDULED TO APPEAR: Here is the most updated list of players and coaches, that will be attendance. Please remember this listing is subject to change…

GM Dayton Moore, Trey Hillman, John Bale, Brian Bannister, Coach Mike Barnett, Ryan Braun, John Buck, Billy Butler, Shane Costa, David DeJesus, Brandon Duckworth, Joey Gathright, Alex Gordon, Zack Greinke, Mark Grudzielanek, Jose Guillen, Luke Hochevar, Luke Hudson, Tyler Lumsden, Mitch Maier, Ron Mahay, Gil Meche, Coach John Mizerock, Neal Musser, Miguel Olivo, Coach Dave Owen,  Tony Pena, Jr., Ryan Shealy, Coach Luis Silverio and Mark Teahen.

Some alumni as well as our broadcasters will be there as well. Again, Grud and Gordon can ONLY be there on Friday – get out there early so you don’t miss them!

610 SPORTS LIVE BROADCASTS: If you can’t make it out for both days of the entire event, tune into 610 Sports for LIVE coverage both days. In fact, Neal and Marty (the drive-time show) is going LIVE on the Main Stage with players and coaches from 5-6 p.m. on Friday. Tune in!

Okay…a little non-FanFest news – yes, there is such thing!

Frankw_dannibCAPITAL IDEA: Danni Boatright, the Kansas City-area native and famed Royals and Chiefs fan, spoke to a group of Kansas lawmakers Tuesday night in Topeka.  Danni has parlayed her quick fame on the TV show “Survivor” into a broadcasting and public speaking career. She shared the stage with Royals Hall of Famer Frank White (now on a Royals Caravan to Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas) and former Chiefs offensive lineman Tim Grunhard. Eric Montgomery, a loyal Royals fan in Topeka who works at the capitol building, snapped these photos and sent them to your favorite blog. He says Danni had plenty of supportive words for the 2008 Royals and charmed the politicians, too, from both sides of the aisle. Maybe politics are next for the Survivor?Frankw_autos

CARAVAN UPDATE: And, finally…a little update from the road as the Royals 2008 Caravan rolled into gear Wednesday morning. Ben Aken, Director of Community Relations and a participant on the Kansas-Missouri-Arkansas leg, said the traveling crew had great turnouts at the first stops of the three-day trip, including 150 loyal fans in Pittsburg (Kan.) and 250 in Joplin!

So, even though it might be time for the winter blues, all we are seeing around here these days is Royal Blue!

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