As he has each year since his election in 2010, U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, c’99, l’02, of Kansas’ 3rd Congressional District, once again participated in a recent Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park proudly outfitted in his alma mater’s full baseball kit—as was his cross-border colleague and baseball teammate, U.S. Rep. Sam Graves, of Missouri’s 6th Congressional District.
The annual charity event, where the capital’s partisan rivalries play out only on the field, benefits the Washington Liberty Council, The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington and the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation.
In case you haven’t heard, the Kansas City Royals baseball team is headed to the World Series after sweeping the American League Championship Series with four straight victories over the Baltimore Orioles.
KU fans love their Jayhawks, but they love the Royals, too.
Actors and Kansas City-area natives Rob Riggle and Paul Rudd, who both attended classes on the Hill, are well-known Royals fans. Riggle, c’93, recently served as grand marshal of KU’s Homecoming parade and posted this photo on his Instagram account showing his excitement after the Royals won the ALCS.
And one more tidbit, just for fun: Royals fans are probably familiar with SungWoo Lee, the die-hard Korean fan who adopted the team two decades ago and who made his first trip to Kauffman Stadium this past August. Filmmaker Josh Swade, the KU superfan who was instrumental in bringing the James Naismith’s Original Rules of Basket Ball to Lawrence and co-directed “There’s No Place Like Home,” the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary about the quest, confirmed on his Twitter account that Lee will return to the K for the first game of the World Series on Tuesday.
Many of the KU Alumni Association’s alumni networks are busy organizing Royals watch parties in their cities. It’s another great way to enjoy camaraderie with fellow Jayhawks. Be sure to check out our list of alumni networks and their Facebook groups to find a watch party in your area. Rock Chalk Jayhawk, and go Royals!
Chelan David, j’94, poses with the ball he caught during batting practice before Game 3 of the ALDS championship. David grew up in Lawrence as a fan of both the Jayhawks and the Royals, and he earned his degree in advertising. He is currently general manager for Univision Communications in Kansas City, where he faithfully roots for the home team. David submitted the following post as a tribute to the Royals’ remarkable postseason run.
I was a product of the 1980s. One year in particular, 1980, defined my childhood. As a third-grader I was attracted to all things cool: Luke Skywalker, Hall & Oates, Pac-Man, the Dallas Cowboys and my beloved Kansas City Royals.
I wasn’t a casual 9-year-old baseball fan. I was a fanatic. There wasn’t a single player on the roster whose number I didn’t have committed to memory. Visits to the grandparents were scheduled on off days. I’d fill out scorecards while listening to Denny Matthews and Fred White on the radio, paying special attention to the leadoff hitter, Willie Wilson. Even now, I can recite from memory his stats in 1980 – 230 hits in 705 at bats with 79 stolen bases and a league-leading 15 three-baggers.
I made my first pilgrimage to Royals Stadium in 1980. It was a memorable experience—early September with George Brett chasing the magical .400 mark. The Astroturf greener than a forest of pines. Water erupting from the fountain like shimmering shots of Kool-Aid. The smell of the ballpark, a delightful mix of downtown beer hall and suburban arboretum.
The Royals would lose that year in the World Series, but it didn’t matter. Everyone knew they would continue winning. And they did. In 1985 the entire city was behind the Royals, willing Don Denkinger to blow the call in Game 6.
Then things changed. We still produced some good players. but they never stuck around. It seemed like ownership didn’t really care if we won. Losing seasons melded together and the fan base dwindled.
When I moved back to Kansas City from Seattle five years ago, the Royals weren’t exactly in vogue. I went to a few games each year and there was a smattering of fans in attendance. No one expected the Royals to win. It was like a half-filled Wrigley with no ivy and not nearly as much fun.
The highlight for me was taking my young daughters to the K, as the stadium was now called, and watching their eyes light up in wonderment—not so much for the on-field play, but the scoreboard, fountains and maddeningly entertaining Hot Dog Derby.
The product improved, however. Following last year’s breakthrough season there was even cautious optimism that the Royals could have back-to-back winning seasons. I took the kids to a game in early May, and the Royals won in front of a crowd of around 20,000. We went to another game in September during the pennant race and there was a crowd of 30,000. The momentum was building. There was a buzz for the last home series against division rival Detroit. But the Men in Blue dropped two out of three games and looked outmatched in the process.
Then the Wild Card thing happened. It was like the sports gods mashed up the ’86 World Series with Doug Flutie’s Hail Mary fling of ‘84. No one comes back from a 7-3 deficit in the 8th inning, especially when the other team’s ace is on the hill and the star reliever is warming up in the pen. And your team is last in the majors in home runs.
You certainly don’t come back from such a deficit by stealing bases. Nor do you spot the opposing team a run in the 12th inning after you’ve made a stirring comeback to even the score in the bottom of the ninth. But the Royals did. And the fans stayed. They stayed in their seats at the K and in front of their televisions at home. Royal Nation believed again.
I went to a watch party for Game 1 of the ALDS and got to meet some of my childhood heroes including Willie Wilson, Frank White and Dennis Leonard. We all looked on in amazement as Moose won the game in the 11th with a home run of all things. Bleary-eyed, I tuned in the next night for Game 2 and watched Eric Hosmer go yard to win the game for the Royals in the 11th once again.
A pattern seemed to be emerging. I knew I had to go to Game 3 and witness the magic firsthand. I ordered standing room only tickets.
Best purchase of my life.
When I arrived at the ballpark everything was different from the game I attended just a month earlier. The sky was bluer, the air fresher, my bones younger. During batting practice I rose as high as my legs would take me in the holding pen for standing people and came down with a souvenir ball.
I had no idea a baseball game could be so exhilarating. It was almost like a basketball game at Allen Fieldhouse with beer. Fans on their feet the entire game. A sea of blue. When Billy Butler stole second base in the third inning everyone knew the game was over. The fans, the Royals, the Angels. It was like when an opposing team comes into the Fieldhouse and is exposed to their first furious Jayhawk run. The only thing left in doubt is if the walk-ons will score.
I witnessed the Royals of today channel the ghosts of Royals past. Lorenzo Cain patrolling center field like Willie Wilson and making several spectacular plays. Billy Butler doing his Steve Balboni thing. Moose going deep like another Royal who used to play the hot corner. Greg Holland mowing down batters in the ninth inning like Quiz.
After the final Angel struck out I reveled with the other fans for well over an hour. No one wanted to leave, to lose the moment. As I exited the stadium, a hot dog vendor was tossing free hot dogs to everyone in sight. In the parking lot, it was deemed an offense to walk by a fellow fan without exchanging a high five.
It was October in Kansas City. And it was cool to be a Royals fan again. Just like 1980.
Love bicycles and baseball? Or maybe you’re just looking for cheap family fun? Don’t miss this event on May 10!
Bring the whole family for a day of fun at the ballpark. The KU Alumni trailer will be parked along the first base line at Hoglund Ballpark, and staff will be serving free hot dogs, chips, cookies, water and soda.
The Family Fun Zone will be set up from 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. with several inflatables for the kids, plus a balloon artist, face painting and more. Members of our Future Jayhawks program can stop by our table and pick up a special gift!
If you have a bicycle-riding Jayhawk, make sure to stop by the helmet fair. The popular event is typically held before the spring football game, but this year you’ll find the fair near the Jayhawk Soccer Complex.
Pick up a free bike helmet for the kids, or bring one from home—safety experts will be on hand to make sure the helmets fit properly. Kids can also bring their bikes for free inspections and ride on a safe course. The helmet fair is also open from 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
Baseball and softball games
The KU baseball and softball teams both have games at 2 p.m.
The softball team will celebrate Senior Day with a game against Iowa State. Bring your grandparents; senior citizens can buy tickets for just $3.
The baseball game against West Virginia is the “Jayhawks for a Cure” game, with $3 admission for anyone wearing pink. Pink pom poms will be available while supplies last.
Kids ages four and under are admitted to the games free!
Purchase tickets for the baseball and softball games online. Show your KU Alumni Association membership card and receive a free gift at the event! Future Jayhawks members who attend will also receive a special gift. Not a member? Join online, call 800.584.2957 or sign up at the event.
A chilly spring evening isn’t ideal weather for a tailgate and baseball game, but the game must go on. Each season the Kansas baseball team plays a home and away series with the Wichita State Shockers. Earlier this season the Jayhawks hosted the Shockers at Hoglund Ballpark in Lawrence and came away with a victory, 4-2. The Shockers hosted the Jayhawks April 29 at Eck Stadium in Wichita, and the game ended with a Jayhawk win, 10-3.
The tradition involves more than the game. The Wichita Chapter of the KU Alumni Association and the Williams Education Fund of Kansas Athletics host an annual tailgate before the contest, and more than 40 Jayhawk alumni and Williams Fund members gathered this year with friends and family to enjoy great food and to support their team. Carrie Wiegand, c’99, of Wichita says, “This tailgate was a great opportunity to meet up with fellow alumni and to support our team in our hometown.”
Head coach Ritch Price and senior pitcher Jordan Piche spoke briefly and thanked the brave fans who weathered the cold. Lynn Loveland, the KU Alumni Association’s assistant director of programs for Wichita, says, “I love seeing all the red and blue at Eck Stadium! Many KU fans cheer for WSU, unless we are playing them—then it is KU all the way.”
The sun is shining, the wind is blowing, and the sound of a ball pinging off a bat punctuates the blaring music: It must be opening day for KU baseball and softball at Hoglund and Arrocha ballparks.
Hoglund Ballpark, named for former player and longtime KU volunteer leader Forrest Hoglund, e’56, has been the home of the Kansas baseball team for more than 25 seasons. The ballpark continues to undergo improvements to remain one of the finest college baseball facilities in the area. The Jayhawks hosted Oral Roberts March 11, when a late two-run rally in the eighth inning handed the Jayhawks their fourth loss of the season, 7-8. Junior left-fielder Michael Suiter continues to impress with his offensive performance, going 2-for-3.
The baseball team is back in action on Friday March 14, opening Big 12 play against No. 10 Texas.
Chaley Brickey, infielder
Arrocha Ballpark, home of the softball team, is named for Demostenes Arrocha, the father of KU alumna Cheryl Womack, d’75. The softball team hosted South Dakota State March 11 in a doubleheader. A bright spot for the Jayhawks continues to be sophomore shortstop Chaley Brickey, who blasted a two-run homerun, her sixth on the season. The Jayhawks needed only five innings to shutout South Dakota State in each game, 8-0, 8-0.
Brickey, a native of Haltom City, Texas (pictured), was named Co-Big 12 Player of the Week for the week ending on March 9. It is the first weekly conference honor for Brickey who is the first Jayhawk to earn the accolade this season. She helped the Jayhawks to a 4-1 record over the weekend with three doubles, three home runs and six RBI’s. Brickey is also performing well on defense, recording five putouts, eights assists and perfect fielding percentage in five starts.
The softball team hosts the Jayhawk Invitational March 14-16.
Senior right-hander Frank Duncan on Monday was named Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week by Collegiate Baseball newspaper and Big 12 Pitcher of the Week by the Big 12 Conference. In seven and two-thirds innings against Mississippi Valley State Sunday at the Snowbird Classic in Port Charlotte Florida, Duncan struck out 14 while allowing one run on four hits. He is the first Jayhawk to win the national weekly honor since Shaeffer Hall, d’12, in 2009.
After four games in Florida, the Jayhawks remain undefeated at 8-0. Next up is the Salty Iguana Classic. Due to the projected forecast for this weekend’s home-opening baseball series, the Kansas baseball team has elected to move its games to QuikTrip Park in Grand Prairie, Texas, home of the Grand Prairie Airhogs. —Leah Kohlman
Junior third baseman Aaron Hernandez was named Co-Big 12 Newcomer of the Week after his performance in the first three games of a four-game sweep of BYU in Peoria, Ariz. Hernandez, a transfer from Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, Calif., recorded five hits and five RBI in the three weekend games, including a seventh-inning RBI double that broke up a BYU no-hitter in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader.
The Jayhawks (4-0) beat BYU 10-4, 2-0, 11-10 in 10 innings, and 10-1. Up next is the Snowbird Classic in Port Charlotte, Fla. The Jayhawks face Northwestern on Friday, Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Saturday, Mississippi Valley State on Sunday and St. Bonaventure on Monday.
With piles of snow and frigid temperatures on Mount Oread, KU baseball head coach Ritch Price opened media day Feb. 11 by deadpanning, “First of all, we can look outside and see that the weather is conducive to playing this great game.”
In fact, the winter weather in recent weeks forced the Jayhawks to take a field trip to Dallas, where they enjoyed a rare practice outside. KU opens the season Feb. 14 with a four-game series against Brigham Young University in Peoria, Ariz.
As he begins his 12th season at KU, Price focuses on consistency. “Our thing is we’re trying to win series. We talk with our players about being professional every day and preparing properly every day,” he said. “We try to handle things as a coaching staff if we don’t do well on Friday night. One of the things that we preach is that when you walk into the ballpark, we shouldn’t be able to tell by your body language or how you go about your work if you won or lost the night before. That’s what the best players in the game do.”
Team captains for the 2014 season include senior catcher Ka’iana Eldredge from Honolulu, Hawaii; senior outfielder Tucker Tharp from Boulder, Colo.; and senior pitcher Jordan Piché from Greeley, Colo., who was named to the 2014 Preseason Stopper of the Year Watch List by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. Another preseason highlight included the Perfect Game website’s listing of senior right-handed veteran Frank Duncan, San Francisco, 46th on its list of the top 100 college seniors.
Sure, it was hot. But 25 KU alumni and friends—and 10 K-State alumni who were invited—still enjoyed the Las Vegas 51s AAA baseball game Saturday night at Cashman Field.
Chris Bargiel, boyfriend of Angela Mai, g’08, threw out one of the ceremonial first pitches on behalf of KU. Sort of.
“Two little kids threw out pitches before Chris did, and I’d have to say they threw better strikes than Chris,” says Dee Clifford, c’71, the Las Vegas Chapter leader. “Chris’ bounced a little before the plate, but he shrugged it off.”
A nice buffet down the third-base line no doubt consoled Bargiel and the rest of the KU contingent. A 7-2 Las Vegas win over Sacramento didn’t hurt, either.
(View photos above, or click here to view them on Flickr.)