Today, the Royals recognized honorees for exceptional contributions on and off the field in 2011. We’ll start with photos of the media session, which took place before the event.
Top to bottom: General Manager Dayton Moore, Manager Ned Yost, 2011 Les Milgram Player of the Year Alex Gordon, 2011 Bruce Rice Pitcher of the Year Bruce Chen and 2011 Joe Burke Special Achievement Award winner Eric Hosmer
The new MLB Groundskeepers Hall of Fame inducted their first class on Sunday, with a Kansas City legend joining the ranks. George Toma, formerly the groundskeeper for the Kansas City Athletics, Chiefs and Royals, received the honor at a ceremony in Anaheim. Here’s the press release:
EMIL BOSSARD & GEORGE TOMA INAUGURAL INDUCTEES IN MLB GROUNDSKEEPER HALL OF FAME
The association of Major League Baseball Groundskeepers has selected two legends of their profession as the inaugural inductees to the Major League Baseball Groundskeeper Hall of Fame.
Emil Bossard and George Toma were inducted on January 8, 2012 during the 14th annual meeting of Major League Baseball Groundskeepers in Anaheim. The names of Bossard and Toma are inscribed on the award’s trophy (photo attached) in recognition of their “dedication and outstanding contributions to Major League Baseball and the sports turf industry.” The trophy is named for Gary Vanden Berg, the longtime Milwaukee Brewers Groundskeeper who died in October.
Bossard and Toma were nominated by the groundskeeper Hall of Fame Committee and approved by the membership. Committee members are Bill Deacon, New York Mets; Trevor Vance and Justin Scott, Kansas City Royals; Mark Razum, Colorado Rockies; and Bob Christofferson, Seattle Mariners. Plans are to continue to recognize individuals who have made a significant impact on baseball, the sports turf industry and their communities by inducting new members each year.
Bossard, who died in 1980 at the age of 88, began his 70-year career in baseball in 1910 as the head groundskeeper for the St. Paul Saints at Lexington Park. During his 25 years with the Saints, Bossard built a reputation for the best playing field in the American Association. In 1935, he was hired by the Cleveland Indians to manage fields at League Park and Cleveland Municipal Stadium. Over the years, Bossard consulted with numerous teams on the design and construction of Spring Training and regular season playing surfaces.
Bossard is a patriarch of the legendary groundskeeping dynasty. His sons Harold, Marshall and Eugene (Gene) all served as Major League groundskeepers, and his grandsons Roger and Brian, great-grandson James, and great-great-grandson Andrew all are carrying on the family business.
Toma learned his craft from Bossard while working in the Indians’ minor league system. His 60-year career also included stops in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Buffalo, N.Y., and Charleston, W.V. In Kansas City, Toma began his head groundskeeper career in 1957 with the Kansas City Athletics (1957-1967). He was with the Kansas City Royals from 1969-1997, and the Kansas City Chiefs of the NFL. Toma is now semi-retired, but still works each Super Bowl and tends the Spring Training fields in Ft. Myers, Fla., for the Minnesota Twins. In 2001, Toma was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame as the recipient of the Daniel F. Reeves Pioneer Award.
Gary Vanden Berg
Gary Vanden Berg was a member of the Milwaukee Brewers organization for more than 30 years. He began his career with the Brewers in 1981 as an assistant Superintendent of Grounds and served more than 20 years as the club’s Director of Grounds. After a long battle with cancer, Vanden Berg died on October 10, 2011. He was respected not only for the work he did, but for who he was. Upon his death, the Major League Groundskeeper association members unanimously agreed to name the Hall of Fame trophy in his honor.
Guidelines for selection to the Groundskeeper Hall of Fame
To be considered for induction to the Major League Baseball Groundskeeper Hall of Fame, a person must have ceased to be employed full-time in the profession for at least five years and have made a significant contribution to groundskeeping and/or the sports turf industry at the Major League level. An individual’s impact on the community will also be considered. The names of nominees will be submitted to the Major League Baseball Groundskeepers association for a vote. A nominee must receive 75% of the vote of all active association members.
The Royals have announced the minor league coaching staffs for the 2012 season. The Royals also named their minor league coordinators for next season.
The leader of the defending Pacific Coast League champion Omaha Storm Chasers remains intact, as 2011 Mike Coolbaugh award winner Mike Jirschele returns to his managerial post for a 10th-consecutive season. The Wisconsin native also managed the club from 1995-1997 and is a four-time winner of the Dick Howser Award (1992, 1994, 2005 and 2011). Doug Henry will tutor the pitchers at Omaha for the third straight season while Tommy Gregg will serve his fourth season as the hitting coach. Dave Iannicca and Joey Greany will serve as the trainer and strength and conditioning coach, respectively.
The Northwest Arkansas Naturals return Brian Poldberg at the helm for the fifth straight season. Poldberg has led the Naturals to the playoffs in each of his four seasons and was named an All-Star in 2010 and 2011. Poldberg’s staff will include 2011 All-Star pitching coach Larry Carter, who enters his 15th season in the Royals organization and 11th at the Double-A level, and 2010-11 Texas League All-Star Terry Bradshaw, who will tutor the hitters at Double-A for the third consecutive year. Masa Koyanagi and George Timke will work as the trainer and strength and conditioning coach, respectively.
Vance Wilson will jump a level and serve as the manager of the Class-A Advanced Wilmington Blue Rocks in 2012 after leading the Kane County Cougars to the playoffs last season in his debut season as a skipper. Steve Luebber will remain as the pitching coach while former big league outfielder Damon Hollins will be the hitting coach. Trainer James Stone and strength and conditioning coach Adam Vish round out Wilson’s staff.
The Royals will begin their second season with the Kane County (Ill.) Cougars as the club’s Midwest League (A) affiliate. Kane County will be managed by Brian Buchanan, who skippered Idaho Falls in 2010 and 2011. Jim Brower returns as the Cougars pitching coach. Julio Bruno, the hitting coach for Surprise in 2011, will serve in that same capacity on Buchanan’s staff. Mark Keiser and David Kathmann will serve as the trainer and strength and conditioning coach, respectively.
Omar Ramirez, who was the hitting coach for Idaho Falls in 2011, will be on the bench as the manager of the Chukars in 2012. Jerry Nyman will serve as the Chukars pitching coach for the second straight campaign. Justin Gemoll will tutor the hitters at Idaho Falls after filling the same role in 2011 at Wilmington (A-Advanced). Nathan Dine joins the Royals organization as the strength and conditioning coach. The Chukars trainer has yet to be announced.
Tommy Shields joins the Kansas City system as the manager with Burlington (R) in the Appalachian League. Shields spent the last seven seasons as the Atlanta Braves minor league infield coordinator. Carlos Martinez will be the pitching coach after working in the same position for Surprise in 2011. Jon Williams will work with the hitters. Trainer Adrian Ramon and strength and conditioning coach Richard White both join the Royals organization and round out Shields’ staff. Ramon comes to the Royals from Florida Gulf Coast University.
The Royals rookie league squad in Surprise, Ariz., will be managed by Darryl Kennedy for the third straight season. Kennedy’s staff will include Mark Davis, who returns as a pitching coach for Surprise after a season as the minor league pitching coordinator; pitching coach/rehab coach Carlos Reyes, who joined the Royals in 2008; hitting coaches Andre David and Nelson Liriano; coach and former Royals postseason hero Willie Aikens; trainer Saburo Hagihara; and strength and conditioning coach Luis Perez, who also serves the club as the Latin American strength and conditioning coordinator.
Victor Baez will work his fifth year as the Dominican Academy field coordinator. Under the direction of manager Jose Mejia, the remainder of the staff includes Rafael Roque (pitching); Abraham Nunez (hitting); Ramon Martinez (infield); Onil Joseph (outfield); Sergio de Luna (coach); Martin Berroa (trainer); Raymundo Sido (trainer); and Jose Rosario (strength and conditioning coach).
Coordinators and Roving positions:
Tony Tijerina enters his sixth year with KC and his second as minor league field coordinator.
Bill Fischer, a former Major League Pitching Coach with the Reds, Red Sox and Rays, will work his 65th year in professional baseball in 2012 as Senior Pitching Advisor. Fischer, who re-joined the organization in 2007, also worked with the club from 1975-1978 and in 1984.
2012 will be Jack Maloof’s fifth season with the Royals as a special assistant to player development and minor league hitting coordinator.
Rusty Kuntz, after serving in 2008-2009 and for the final four months of 2010 on the Royals Major League staff as first base coach, will work his second season as special assistant to general manager/player development.
Rick Knapp, who served as the Major League pitching coach of the Detroit Tigers the last three seasons, joins the Royals as the minor league pitching coordinator.
Glenn Hubbard, a 10-year Major League veteran and a coach for the Atlanta Braves for 21 seasons, returns for his second year as the club’s infield coordinator.
John Wathan returns for his 40th season in baseball, his 36th with the Royals, as a special assistant to player development/scouting.
Chris DeLucia will serve his third season as the minor league medical coordinator in 2012.
Sean McQueeney joins the Royals organization as minor league rehab coordinator and physical therapist. He was most recently with the Seattle Mariners organization.
Tony Medina is the Latin America medical coordinator after working the last eight years as a trainer at various levels.
Garrett Sherrill returns to the Royals after two seasons with the San Francisco Giants and will serve as the minor league strength and conditioning coordinator, taking over for Ryan Stoneberg who was promoted to the Major League position.
Luis Perez, as mentioned above, will serve as the Latin America strength and conditioning coordinator in addition to working for Surprise.
Nick Leto and Will Simon return as the manager of Arizona operations and minor league equipment manager, respectively.
Alvin Cuevas returns for his fifth season as manager of Dominican operations.
The annual Royals Caravan presented by FOX Sports Kansas City opens with a free autograph event for fans in the Kansas City area on Wednesday, January 11. Several Royals will appear at the Rally House: Independence Superstore from 6-8 p.m. to launch the club’s winter tradition.
Beginning in 1968, the Royals have embarked on the annual Royals Caravan to visit fans throughout the Midwest. This January, several current and former Royals players, broadcasters and front office personnel will join Royals mascot Sluggerrr for Caravan events.
In addition to the Rally House event, the first week of Royals Caravan will also feature public stops in Lincoln and Omaha, Neb., as well as private visits to veterans at VA Hospital in Kansas City and troops stationed at Whiteman Air Force Base.
Royals scheduled to appear during the first week include pitcher Bruce Chen, second baseman Johnny Giavotella, first baseman Eric Hosmer and outfielders Lorenzo Cain, Alex Gordon and Mitch Maier. In addition, Hall of Famer George Brett, Royals Hall of Famer Dennis Leonard, former third baseman Joe Randa and broadcasters Denny Matthews and Ryan Lefebvre are also scheduled to participate.
A tentative schedule of Caravan events for Wednesday, January 11-Friday, January 13 is available at www.royals.com/caravan.
The Fred Hutchinson Center Research Center has announced that Royals designated hitter Billy Butler will receive the 47th annual Hutch Award®. The award is given each year to a Major League Baseball player who best exemplifies the honor, courage and dedication of baseball great Fred Hutchinson, both on and off the field.
Baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. will give the keynote address at the Hutch Award Luncheon and presentation on Wednesday, February 1 at Safeco Field in Seattle, Fred Hutchinson’s hometown. The event raises funds to benefit early cancer detection research at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
Butler put together a solid season as the club’s full-time designated hitter in 2011, batting .291 with 19 home runs and a career-best 95 RBI. He also recorded 44 doubles, becoming the first Royal to post three consecutive seasons with 40 or more doubles. Butler, 25, is one of 10 players in Major League Baseball since the start of 2009 with at least 500 hits, 200 runs, 50 home runs and a greater than .300 average.
Off the field, Butler is known for his selfless attitude and desire to help others. In 2008, Butler and his wife, Katie, started the Hit-It-A-Ton program to help feed disadvantaged families in the Kansas City area. Through the program, $250 is donated for each home run Butler hits with an additional $125 for each double. Hit-It-A-Ton has raised in excess of $250,000, providing more than 1,000 tons of food through two food banks and a community kitchen run by Kansas City’s Bishop Sullivan Center.
When Butler goes to Seattle to receive his Hutch Award, he will visit cancer research labs at the Hutchinson Center as well as the Hutch School, a unique K – 12 accredited education program that serves young cancer patients and school-age family members of patients.
The Hutch Award recipient is selected annually through a vote of all surviving former awardees. A total of 46 players have been honored since 1965, when Mickey Mantle accepted the inaugural award. Butler becomes the fourth Royal to win the award, joining George Brett (1980), Dennis Leonard (1986) and Mike Sweeney (2007). Former Royal Mark Teahen also won the award following the 2009 season but was a member of the Chicago White Sox at the time of his award acceptance.
For more information on the Hutch Award or to register for the Hutch Award Luncheon, visit www.fhcrc.org/hutchaward.
The Royals Hot Stove Show returns tonight, January 5, at 6:00 p.m. Central! General Manager Dayton Moore will join hosts Ryan Lefebvre and Denny Matthews. You can catch the show on 610 Sports in Kansas City and anywhere in the world at royals.com: http://kansascity.royals.mlb.com/kc/fan_forum/hotstove.jsp?partnerId=aw-7100397937519910267-1121
Royals Hot Stove will air each Thursday through March 29. If you can’t tune in tonight, bookmark the link above as all shows will be archived.