My first Royals game since 2019

Last night I attended my first Royals game since before the COVID-19 pandemic. Not that I’ve been avoiding Kauffman Stadium altogether — last summer I ran the Royals Charities 5K and at the end of 2022, I took a behind-the-scenes tour of the K. But it had been quite some time since I last attended an actual Royals game, and to rectify that, I bought my ticket to watch the boys in blue take on the Guardians.


This return to game attendance was certainly memorable, but unfortunately, not in a good way. For one thing, it was broiling hot outside: 96°F officially when the game started, and it felt like triple digits. As for the game itself, I knew things were going to be rough when the Guardians hit a grand slam in the 3rd inning. This was followed by a two-run homer in the 5th inning and another two-run blast in the 6th. By the time the 7th inning stretch arrived, the Royals were down 14-0.

The Royals did manage to score a run in the bottom of the 7th, but this was small consolation in the face of what was probably the worst defeat I’ve ever seen live at the K. To make matters worse, Relish won the hot dog derby — my least favorite of the three condiments.


Attendance in general was sparse, with the official number coming in at 11,978. Kansas City is feeling a bit disgruntled with its baseball team these days, and with games like the one we experienced last night, it’s not hard to understand why.


In spite of all this, I am still glad that I made a point of attending the game. Kauffman Stadium has long been one of my favorite places to visit, and sitting in the stadium last night, I find that the sentiment remains. It breaks my heart that the organization intends to move the team out of Kauffman and into a new venue in downtown Kansas City. Until that day arrives, I want to try and get out to more games and soak it in while I can.


This day in baseball: Standing ovation for Gehrig

On June 28, 1939, Yankees captain Lou Gehrig brought the lineup card out to the umpires for the second game of a double header at Shibe Park and received a standing ovation from the crowd. Gehrig’s last game had been on April 30th of that year. Making a rare journey out of the dugout, A’s manager Connie Mack joined the group a home plate to shake Gehrig’s hand.

Portrait of New York Yankees first baseman, Lou Gehrig (1903 – 1941), seated with three baseball bats over his shoulder, circa 1930s. (Photo by Pictorial Parade/Getty Images)

Little Big League

Little Big League

I never watched Little Big League while I was growing up, and this weekend, I decided it was time to rectify this. Little Big League is a 1994 film that tells the story of Billy Heywood, a twelve-year-old baseball fan who inherits the Minnesota Twins from his grandfather, Thomas Heywood. Thomas’s will states that Billy is the sole owner of the team and that the team executives are to help him until he is old enough to run the team by himself. Billy loves baseball and knows a lot about the game and the players, but he soon realizes that being an owner is not as straightforward as he thought it might be. He clashes with the team manager, George O’Farrell, who tells Billy off, refusing to take orders from a kid. Billy fires O’Farrell, but he can’t find any other manager who is willing to work for someone so young. Seeing no other options, he appoints himself as the new manager, with the approval of his mother and the Commissioner of Baseball.

Unsurprisingly, things are not easy for Billy, especially in the beginning. He has to deal with the skepticism and resentment of the players, the media, and the fans. After a rough first week, Billy finds his stride and encourages the Twins players to have fun, which results in the team starting to win some ballgames. The excitement wears off as the season drags on, however.

Throughout the season, Billy finds himself facing tough decisions, such as trading or releasing players, setting lineups and strategies, and handling conflicts and injuries. He also has to balance his personal life, including his schoolwork and his friends, and he is more troubled than he is willing to admit by his mother’s romance with star first baseman, Lou Collins, who is also his idol and mentor. Billy feels jealous and betrayed by Lou, and he benches him for a minor batting slump. The team, feeling the effects of Billy’s moods, start to lose games and fall behind in the division race.

As things start to fall apart, Billy becomes increasingly agitated, resentful, and anxious. After some heart-to-heart talks with his mother, Billy realizes that he can’t do everything by himself and that he needs to trust and respect his players and coaches. He also realizes that he can’t control his mother’s love life and he decides instead to be happy for her and Lou. He reconciles with Lou and reinstates him as a starter. He also apologizes to his friends for neglecting them and invites them to join him in the dugout for the final game of the season.

The final game is against the Seattle Mariners, who are led by Ken Griffey Jr. (played by himself). The game is very close and exciting, with both teams scoring runs and making great plays. In extra innings, with two outs and two runners on base, Lou comes up to bat against Randy Johnson (also played by himself). Lou hits a deep fly ball to center field, where Griffey makes a spectacular catch at the wall, robbing Lou of a home run and ending the game. The Twins lose 6-5 and miss the playoffs by one game.

Billy is disappointed but proud of his team’s performance. He thanks his players and coaches for their hard work and dedication, but he also announces that he is quitting as manager after the season and that pitching coach Mac MacNally will take his place. He says that he wants to enjoy being a kid again and that he hopes to see them all again someday. The film ends with Billy getting called back out to the field by an appreciative crowd.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching this film. The plot was enjoyable, and Luke Edwards, who plays Billy, did an impressive job in the role. Even though the film as a whole is, of course, on the cheesy, sentimental side (it is a kids movie, after all), it also does a good job of showing how the pressures of adulthood can mount on a kid, especially a kid who takes on the responsibilities of running a Major League Baseball team. Definitely a worthwhile family movie.

Quote of the day

I don’t want to be Babe Ruth. He was a great ballplayer. I’m not trying to replace him. The record is there and damn right I want to break it, but that isn’t replacing Babe Ruth.

~Roger Maris

Roger Maris

This day in baseball: Harry Danning hits for the cycle

On June 15, 1940, New York Giants catcher Harry Danning hit for the cycle in a game against Pittsburgh. His home run was an inside-the-park home run that landed 460 feet on the fly in front of the Giants’ clubhouse, wedged behind the Eddie Grant memorial at the Polo Grounds. Pittsburgh center fielder Vince DiMaggio was not able to free it in time to catch Danning rounding the bases.

Harry Danning, 1947 (public domain)

“Birches,” by Robert Frost

This poem isn’t primarily about baseball, but the game is mentioned, and Robert Frost spoke about baseball on more than one occasion. And this reading of the piece is quite enjoyable. There’s always something about hearing out loud it from the author himself that adds something to a bit of writing.

When I see birches bend to left and right
Across the lines of straighter darker trees,
I like to think some boy’s been swinging them.
But swinging doesn’t bend them down to stay.
Ice-storms do that. Often you must have seen them
Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
After a rain. They click upon themselves
As the breeze rises, and turn many-coloured
As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.
Soon the sun’s warmth makes them shed crystal shells
Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust
Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away
You’d think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.
They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,
And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed
So low for long, they never right themselves:
You may see their trunks arching in the woods
Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground,
Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair
Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.
But I was going to say when Truth broke in
With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm,
I should prefer to have some boy bend them
As he went out and in to fetch the cows-
Some boy too far from town to learn baseball,
Whose only play was what he found himself,
Summer or winter, and could play alone.
One by one he subdued his father’s trees
By riding them down over and over again
Until he took the stiffness out of them,
And not one but hung limp, not one was left
For him to conquer. He learned all there was
To learn about not launching out too soon
And so not carrying the tree away
Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise
To the top branches, climbing carefully
With the same pains you use to fill a cup
Up to the brim, and even above the brim.
Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish,
Kicking his way down through the air to the ground.
So was I once myself a swinger of birches.
And so I dream of going back to be.
It’s when I’m weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a twig’s having lashed across it open.
I’d like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate willfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth’s the right place for love:
I don’t know where it’s likely to go better.
I’d like to go by climbing a birch tree
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.

This day in baseball: The Yankees’ 14-game winless streak

On June 6, 1913, the New York Yankees lost 2-1 against the Cleveland Indians at the Polo Grounds. This game marked 14 consecutive games played without a win, setting a franchise record. The streak included 13 losses and one tie (a 3-3 game against Boston on May 24th). The team would finish the season with a record of 57–94, coming in 7th place in the American League.

The 1913 New York Yankees (Library of Congress / public domain)