Touring Royals Country on Caravan

It has been a busy week at the office!  Last week, ATH joined team representatives on Caravan visits to Cameron, St. Joseph and Maryville, Missouri, then on to Topeka and Wichita, Kansas.  Hopefully you saw some of our pictures on Twitter @aroundthehornkc.  Here’s a recap of the Missouri tour:

Our journey began in Overland Park on the morning of January 15, where ATH met the bus and checked in with Ben Aken, Sr. Director of Community Relations.  Ben thought the players and staff would want a hot breakfast – so off I went to pick something up.  Once back, I took a seat on the bus behind Royals Hall of Famer John Mayberry and across from broadcaster Steve Stewart, who was joined by his son John (a.k.a. Little John on this trip). 

The bus made a quick stop in downtown Kansas City to pick up designated hitter Billy Butler and pitcher Danny Duffy (pitcher Greg Holland was already aboard).  We made our way through North Kansas City and on to Cameron (one hour north of KC), where our first stop was just off of I-35 at the Whistle Stop Cafe.

Steve Stewart introduced Butler, Duffy, Holland and Mayberry to the fine fans of Cameron.  The line weaved its way through the store to the front table, where fans mingled with our Caravan crew and picked up autographs from our foursome.  I visited with several season ticket holders while Aken and Stewart did radio interviews on KKWK, the Royals affiliate in Cameron.   

Ben suggested that I take lunch orders for our traveling party of 10.  One thing that I learned over two days was the easy-going nature of our three current players on the trip.  I’ve known Billy since 2007 but I didn’t spend much time around Danny or Greg last year.  I took Danny’s order and proceeded to Greg, who said he’d take the same.  And for Billy?  Anything…just order what Duffy and Holland were getting.  Easy enough!  The only problem was that the listed phone number for the sandwich shop was for a fax or modem.  Time is critical on Caravan – you want to get to your next stop as a line of fans will be waiting.  Luckily I found a ride to the sandwich shop and started our order. 

The bus pulled up shortly thereafter and we were on our way to St. Joseph, 45 minutes to the west.  I listened to stories from Big John Mayberry and John Stewart pointed out the town of Stewartsville to Steve.  We rolled into St. Joe, where a long line was waiting at Hy-Vee.  Once again, Steve Stewart did the introductions, this time over Hy-Vee’s intercom!  “Attention Hy-Vee shoppers…” 

I handed out schedules to the fans in line before proceeding back to the autograph table.  Our players and alumnus began walking the line in order for all of the fans to get autographs in our allotted time.  I assisted Big John, a natural at these types of events.  Once the autographs were complete, our current players met with the local media. 

We climbed back onto the bus and kept tabs on the NFL playoffs while traveling north to Maryville.  Our stop was at the Nodaway County Senior Center.  Several fans approached me and talked of how much it meant for us to visit.  This hits home with me as I grew up in a small town and usually made it to one big league game a year as a youth.

The sun was setting as we prepared to leave Maryville.  With our stops complete, Billy, Danny, Greg and Big John posed for a picture next to the sign which advertised our stop.  We had visited three different venues with a common theme:  Fans who were very happy to see us and looking forward to the 2012 season.  When I arrived home that night, I could think of only one thing…the thrill of doing it all again the next day!

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