The South Caravan wrapped up with three stops on Monday. The first was in Springdale, Ark., home of the Double-A Northwest Arkansas Naturals. Royals owner David Glass met with pitchers Bruce Chen, Danny Duffy and Will Smith before a luncheon, which was hosted by the Naturals and the Springdale Rotary. The program included Glass greeting the crowd of over 200. A Q&A session for the pitchers followed, with Chen providing several laughs. Fans were happy to see former Naturals Duffy and Smith, who helped the club to the 2010 Texas League title. We also noticed a Bruce Chen Northwest Arkansas jersey – a very rare item as the lefty made just one rehab start with the club!
This year’s Caravan has focused on reaching out to military members. At each stop, fans have been able to make cards for military personnel who are either overseas or returning from an assignment. For each card, $1 is donated to the USO’s of Fort Riley and Missouri. Today, troops from Fort Leonard Wood visited the Royals Caravan in Springfield. Here’s a look at that visit, plus a look at Royals fans creating the special cards.
The Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in Springfield inducts a class each year, and several Royals have been enshrined. The 2013 class will be inducted next weekend, with Mike Sweeney making the special trek to Springfield. Royals Hall of Fame Pitcher Dennis Leonard entered the MO Sports Hall in 2003. This afternoon, he returned on Royals Caravan and visited with many loyal Royals fans. Here are two photos of “Leo”: First, the Class of 2003 display. Second, a display on fishing, which got a thumbs up from the avid outdoorsman.
School visits are a big hit on Royals Caravan and mascot Sluggerrr meets with students throughout the year. However, it isn’t everyday that a player can retrace his roots while on Caravan. Kansas native and Royals pitcher Aaron Crow had that opportunity on Thursday as the Caravan contingent rolled into Auburn, Kan., population 1,227. The assembly at Auburn Elementary included a presentation of stadium seats from The K (and the Caravan participants autographed the seats)! Let’s take a look at photos of Crow along with Eric Hosmer, Everett Teaford, Royals Hall of Famer Willie Wilson, broadcaster Ryan Lefebvre and Sluggerrr:
A pair of Caravan groups started their two-day treks across Royals Country today with a stop at The University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, Kan. One Caravan is now moving north to Nebraska, with a return stop in St. Joseph, Mo., tomorrow. The second Caravan is traveling west with visits in Kansas today and tomorrow.
For a full list of Caravan stops, visit royals.com/caravan
Above – Billy Butler, Eric Hosmer, Johnny Giavotella; below – Aaron Crow
Above, Billy Butler and Johnny Giavotella
John Mayberry, Ryan Lefebvre, Everett Teaford, Greg Holland; followed by a group photo
January is the perfect time to begin thinking about baseball…spring training is just around the corner! One special tradition has been in place since before the Royals took the field. Yes, Royals Caravan started in 1968 and continues to this day! This is a great event where fans throughout the region get to meet their favorite Royals players, former players, broadcasters and…Sluggerrr! Last year, Around the Horn tagged along on a Caravan – here’s our report from that trip.
On Thursday, there will be meet and greet sessions in Topeka, Manhattan, Lincoln and Omaha. Friday includes meet and greets in Salina, Wichita and St. Joseph.
A new feature at Caravan stops in 2013 is a collection through a partnership with the USO chapters of Fort Riley and Missouri. Fans may donate washcloths, individually wrapped toothbrushes, beef jerky, drink packets and pudding cups, which will be distributed to military members serving overseas and returning from duty. Fans can also bring or make hand-written “Thank You” cards for troops at the Caravan stops. Royals Charities will donate $1 to the USO for every card received (up to $10,000).
A schedule of Caravan events for January 17 and 18 is available at www.royals.com/caravan. The Royals Caravan will continue on January 20-22 and an announcement with the schedule and participants will be released later this week.