9,500 fans flocked to the Overland Park Convention Center for the 2009 Royals FanFest. The main stage was home to a variety of question and answer sessions. Let’s take a look at a few of the highlights:
General Manager Dayton Moore explains his thoughts on the 2009 Royals to Ryan Lefebvre and Tim Scott. At right, Ryan interviews the newest Royals. (Left to right – Kyle Farnsworth, Mike Jacobs, Coco Crisp, Willie Bloomquist)
The broadcasters held court on Saturday for some unscripted banter. Mike Swanson, VP of Communications and Broadcasting for the Royals, chats with Denny Matthews as Ryan Lefebvre, Steve Stewart, and Joel Goldberg look on.
One of Sunday’s most popular events was the Kids Only Press Conference. David DeJesus, Alex Gordon, and Willie Bloomquist took some tough questions from the youngsters in the crowd.
Fans at the main stage took home some new Royals gear as members of the K Crew tossed items to the crowd before and after each event.
Day one of FanFest is in the books, and it was a success. You could feel a vibe amongst the fans and the players (read more about that in this column by royals.com beat writer Dick Kaegel).
We hope you can head out to the Overland Park Convention Center on Sunday. There are so many features for the kids…batting cages, a fly ball challenge, a home run derby, a speed pitch…the list goes on.
Be sure to check out the “Road to the Show” display, which highlights the minor league affiliates. At scheduled times throughout the day, four of our organizational award winners are on hand to interact with fans and sign autographs. Here are photos of our Road to the Show guys as they picked up honors on Friday at the Royals Awards Night:
Check back on Monday for a complete pictorial wrap up of the weekend!
The first week of caravan tours wrapped up today as current Royals Mike Aviles, Billy Butler and Mike Jacobs joined Royals Hall of Famer Willie Wilson and Fox Sports Kansas City commentator Ryan Lefebvre at Operation Breakthrough in Kansas City. The mission of Operation Breakthrough is to help children who are living in poverty develop to their fullest potential by providing them a safe, loving and educational environment. The organization will be the recipient of proceeds from the 2009 Diamond of Dreams, set for July 23 at Kauffman Stadium. Team photographer Chris Vleisides was on hand today and sent us these pictures:
Later, one of the kids started giving everyone stickers. Now here’s a picture that worth a thousand words…Willie Wilson is rolling with laughter as he holds Eeyore from the Winnie the Pooh books. Notice the sticker on Willie’s forehead.
In October, we brought you pictures of the hand-carved figures that will make up the carousel at Kauffman Stadium. Here are updated photos of the lead horse. Also, for quick reference, our recent renovation posts can now be found on the right side of this blog under Kauffman Stadium Renovations.
It’s almost time for the Royals Awards Night and FanFest. Be sure to stop by the Overland Park Convention Center this weekend for FanFest (11 to 7 on Saturday and 11 to 5 on Sunday)…and then check Around the Horn for photo updates and notes on your favorite Royals!
On Wednesday, Joakim Soria and Billy Butler joined Royals Hall of Famer Willie Wilson, hitting coach Kevin Seitzer, broadcaster Denny Matthews, and your favorite mascot, Sluggerrr, on a caravan to Central Missouri. Tina Short of the Royals Radio Network snapped pictures along the way. Here’s a sampling:
The first stop was Martin-Warren Elementary in Warrensburg. The Royals will donate a pair of seats from Kauffman Stadium to each school that is visited during the caravan. Each school will also receive two copies of “H is for Home Run”, a baseball-themed book that teaches the alphabet. The seats, after being autographed by the players/alums on the caravan, will be placed in the school’s library as a reading area for students.
Here, Martin-Warren principal Jim Helmig and Willie Wilson smile for the camera as they sit in the stadium seats.
Stop number two was Hy-Vee in Jefferson City. Baseball loyalties in the state capital are split with Missouri’s NL team, but the Royals Caravan is always welcomed by a nice contingent of fans. The line stretched all the way to the back of the store when the caravan arrived.
The final stop of the day was Hy-Vee in Columbia. In the picture, Willie Wilson signs a 1980 World Series program for a fan. This begs the question…did this Royals fan buy the program on eBay or has he been waiting 28 years for this moment?
Here’s the schedule for the Sprint Main Stage at this weekend’s Royals FanFest. These events are very entertaining and a great way to learn more about Royals baseball!
SATURDAY ON THE SPRINT MAIN STAGE
11:45 a.m. “New to the Blue” with the newest Royals Players
12:50 p.m. “Getting to the Roots” with Head Groundskeeper Trevor Vance
1:20 p.m. “Hangin’ with Hillman” with Manager Trey Hillman
2:35 p.m. “Around The Horn” with the Royals Infielders
3:35 p.m. “Behind the Mic” with the Royals Broadcasters
4:50 p.m. “Covering Ground” with the Royals Outfielders
5:50 p.m. Renovating “The K” with representatives from the Royals and HOK
SUNDAY ON THE SPRINT MAIN STAGE
11:50 a.m. “Call from the Dugout” with the Royals Coaching Staff
12:30 p.m. “Throwing Curves” with the Royals Pitchers
2 p.m. Kids ONLY Press Conference with select Royals Players
3 p.m. “Behind the Scenes” with Royals GM Dayton Moore
4:20 p.m. Roundtable with Royals Greats with Denny Matthews and Royals Alumni
You may purchase FanFest tickets at royals.com or by calling (816) 504-4040. Two-day passes are $18 for adults and $9 for children ages 6-17, while advance single-day tickets are $12 for adults and $6 for kids ages 6-17. Fans ages five and under will be admitted free. Ticket prices at the door are $14 for adults and $7 for kids ages 6-17. Ticket proceeds will benefit Royals Charities.
Current Royals Luke Hochevar and Mitch Maier, Royals Hall of Famer Dennis Leonard, and Fox Sports Kansas City reporter Joel Goldberg are touring Nebraska and Iowa this week (2008 Player of the Year Mike Aviles is scheduled to join the group today in Omaha). Senior Director of Community Relations and Nebraska native Ben Aken is on the trip as well. Ben sent along a few pictures from the first two days, so we’d like to share them with you.
FanFest is just four days away, and we have big news to report! You can meet the newest members of the team this weekend at the Overland Park Convention Center. It was just announced that Willie Bloomquist, Coco Crisp, Kyle Farnsworth, and Mike Jacobs will all be in attendance!
Visit the FanFest page on royals.com where you can purchase tickets and read about all of the activities.
Photo: Tony Gutierrez/AP
The first Royals Caravan of 2009 ventures out to Nebraska tomorrow, with private events in Blue Springs and York and a public “Meet and Greet” in Kearney. (In this case, we are referring to Blue Springs and Kearney, Neb., not to be confused with Blue Springs and Kearney, Mo.)
The Royals have released schedules for the second round of caravans, which start next week following this weekend’s FanFest. Right-handed pitchers Kyle Davies and Gil Meche and radio announcer Steve Stewart will hear a few stories from Royals Hall of Famer John Mayberry (signing at left) as the group makes a three-day tour of Kansas. And honestly, we use the term “few” loosely when it comes to “Big John”. The man never met a story he didn’t like to tell and if you’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting him, you know that is a very good thing.
Zack Greinke and Kila Ka’aihue join Royals Hall of Famer Dennis Leonard and alum Brian McRae on a four-state tour that includes stops in eastern Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Missouri. Ka’aihue, who hit 26 home runs for the Northwest Arkansas Naturals in 2009, will make a return trip to Springdale as the Naturals host a luncheon on Jan. 20. No word yet on if the cows who graze the pasture beyond right field at the Naturals’ Arvest Park are shuddering at the thought of Kila returning.
West Caravan Trip (Kansas)
Participants: Kyle Davies, Gil Meche, John Mayberry, Steve Stewart and Sluggerrr
Monday, Jan. 19 (Emporia, Topeka and Lawrence, Kan.)
Noon-1:30 p.m. Meet and Greet at Planet Sub – 2715 Candlewood Dr. in Emporia (Hosted by KVOE)
3-4:30 p.m. Meet and Greet at Jeremiah Bullfrogs – 4115 SW Huntoon in Topeka (Hosted by WIBW)
6-7 p.m. Meet and Greet at 23rd Street Brewery – 3512 Clinton Parkway in Lawrence (Hosted by KLWN)
Tuesday, Jan. 20 (Fort Riley, Manhattan and Salina, Kan.)
Noon-2 p.m. Visiting members of the military and their families stationed at Fort Riley ***Private event
Noon-12:45 p.m. – Eating lunch with troops at Camp Funston
1-2 p.m. – Visiting with families at the Post Exchange on Custer Hill
3-4 p.m. Meet and Greet at Paddy O’Quigley’s – 530 Richards Dr. in Manhattan (Hosted by KMAN)
6-7 p.m. Meet and Greet at Wal-Mart – 2900 S. 9th Street in Salina (Hosted by KSAL)
Wednesday, Jan. 21 (McPherson, Hutchinson and Wichita, Kan.)
11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Meet and Greet at McPherson College – 1600 East Euclid in McPherson (Hosted by KBBE)
3-4:15 p.m. Meet and Greet at Hutchinson Mall – 1500 E. 11th Ave. in Hutchinson (Hosted by KWBW)
5:30-6:30 p.m. Meet and Greet at Heroes Sports Bar & Grill – 117 N. Mosley in Wichita (Hosted by KFH-AM)
South Caravan Trip (Southeast Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri)
Participants: Zack Greinke, Kila Ka’aihue, Dennis Leonard, Brian McRae and Sluggerrr
Monday, Jan. 19 (Chanute, Parsons and Coffeyville, Kan., and Tulsa, Okla.)
10:30-11:30 a.m. Meet & Greet at Benchwarmers Sports Bar & Grill – 5 E. Main St. in Chanute (Hosted by KINZ)
1-2 p.m. Meet & Greet at Bleacher Gear – 1730 Main St. in Parsons (Hosted by KLKC)
3:15-4:15 p.m. Meet & Greet at Coffeyville Community College – Nellis Hall, NE Corner of HWY 166 and Beech in Coffeyville (Hosted by KGGF)
6-7 p.m. Meet & Greet at Sports Fan-Attic in Woodland Hills Mall – South Memorial Dr. and 71st St. in Tulsa (Hosted by KYAL)
Tuesday, Jan. 20 (Springdale, Ark., and Hollister and Springfield, Mo.)
11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Luncheon with Northwest Arkansas Naturals – Holiday Inn Springdale, 1500 S. 48th St. in Springdale.
**Ticket required. Contact the Northwest Arkansas Naturals at (479) 927-4900.
3:30-4:30 p.m. Meet & Greet at Ozark Mountain Family YMCA – 175 Industrial Dr. in Hollister (Hosted by KOMC)
6-7 p.m. Meet & Greet at Indigo Joe’s – 1440 W. Republic Road in Springfield (Hosted by KGMY)
Wednesday, Jan. 21 (Joplin, El Dorado Springs and Butler, Mo.)
11 a.m.-noon Meet & Greet at Northpark Mall – 101 N. Rangeline Rd. in Joplin (Hosted by KKOW)
2-3 p.m. School Visit at El Dorado Springs Elementary – 901 S. Grand Ave. in El Dorado Springs (Hosted by KESM) ***Private event
4-5 p.m. Meet & Greet at Mason Building – Off 71 Highway in Butler (Hosted by KMAM)
The Royals added a versatile player to the puzzle today by signing free agent infielder/outfielder Willie Bloomquist, a veteran of seven seasons, all with Seattle.
Bloomquist batted .279 in 2008 (71 games). Despite limited playing time, he has reached double digits in steals in four of the last five seasons. He has 71 lifetime steals in 87 attempts (82 percent). Willie can play all of the infield and outfield positions. Since 2006, he is the only Major League player to play at least 30 games at second, short, third and the outfield.
Willie is a native of Bremerton, Washington, and a graduate of Port Orchard High in Washington. The Mariners drafted him for the first time in the eighth round of the 1996 draft, but he chose to accept a scholarship to Arizona State University. Bloomquist attended ASU for three years and helped the Sun Devils reach the College World Series championship game in 1998. As a junior, he was named both the Pac-10 Player of the Year and an Academic All-American. Willie also gave up his scholarship so fellow Sun Devil Andrew Beinbrink could return for his senior year. Seattle selected Willie in the third round in 1999, and he had been in the Mariners organization since that point…until today.
Bloomquist will have a short commute to the Spring Training complex in Surprise as he resides in Peoria, Arizona with his wife and two daughters. Welcome Willie!