I am not too serious about anything. I believe you have to enjoy yourself to get the most out of your ability. I can take the criticism with the accolades. Neither affects me.
Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri first opened as Royals Stadium on April 10, 1973. Construction for the stadium began in June 1967, when a $102 million bond was issued by Jackson County for construction of two sports stadiums. One of those stadiums was for the Kansas City Chiefs of the National Football League. The other stadium, meanwhile, was intended for the Kansas City Athletics.
The Philadelphia Athletics, owned by Arnold Johnson, had moved to Kansas City in 1955, bringing Major League baseball to the city for the first time. The Athletics moved into Kansas City Municipal Stadium, a facility originally built in 1923, which was then rebuilt and expanded for the A’s. Johnson passed away in March 1960, and on December 19, 1960, Charles Finely purchased a controlling interest in the Kansas City Athletics from Johnson’s estate.
In the early 1960s, Finely began looking to move the team to a new city. In an effort to keep the Athletics in Kansas City, the Jackson County Sports Complex Authority was established to oversee construction and funding for a new sports complex for the A’s and the Chiefs, who also shared Municipal Stadium. Original plans called for a multipurpose stadium, but these were scrapped due to design and seating capacity issues. Going against the trend in other cities that were building multipurpose stadiums at the time, the county decided to build two new stadiums, one for the A’s and one for the Chiefs.
Charles Finely, however, did not want to wait for the construction of a new stadium, and in October 1967, Finely took the A’s to Oakland, California, where a new multipurpose stadium had just been erected. After the move, United States Senator Stuart Symington of Missouri threatened to press for the revocation of baseball’s anti-trust exemption if they did not give Kansas City a new team. The MLB responded by hastily granting expansion franchises to four cities, including a Kansas City team owned by a local pharmaceutical magnate, Ewing Kauffman. The new teams were scheduled to start playing in 1971.
However, pressure from Symington and other officials prompted the MLB to allow the expansion franchises to begin playing in 1969. The new club in Kansas City was named the Royals, and they played their first four seasons in Municipal Stadium. Meanwhile, construction on the Truman Sports Complex, including the Royals’ new stadium and the Chiefs’ facility, Arrowhead Stadium, began on July 11, 1968. The Royals played their first game in their new ballpark, originally named Royals Stadium, on April 10, 1973 against the Texas Rangers.
Royals Stadium was the American League’s first ballpark with Astroturf as the playing surface. It held 40,793 seats, which all faced second base and were arranged in three tiers featuring maroon, gold, and orange seats. The stadium’s most unique feature, however, was the display of fountains and a waterfall beyond the outfield fence. Stretching horizontally for 322 feet, it remains the largest privately-funded fountain in the world. The fountains are on display before and after the game and in-between innings, while the waterfalls are constantly flowing. A twelve-story scoreboard, in the shape of the Royals’ crest, was placed beyond the center field fence.
In 1993, the stadium was renamed in honor of Ewing Kauffman. Two years later, the Astroturf was replaced with grass. Then, after the 1998 season, Kauffman Stadium was given a full makeover. The renovation included the addition of Crown Seats, Dugout Suites, new clubhouses, and an exclusive restaurant and lounge known as the Crown Club. All of the formerly-brightly-colored seats in the stadium were replaced with blue seats.
Then, on April 4, 2006, Jackson County, Missouri voters approved a 0.375% sales tax increase to fund plans to renovate the Truman Sports Complex, including a $256 million renovation of Kauffman Stadium. Along with this, the Royals committed to a lease that will keep them in Kansas City until 2030. The renovation included a reduction of capacity to 37,903, a new high-definition scoreboard in center field (known as “Crown Vision”), new bullpens perpendicular to the field, expansion of the seating in the Crown Club and Dugout Suites, and new fountain view terrace seats in the outfield. New fan attractions included a kids’ area known as “the Little K” and a new Royals Hall of Fame in left field.
Four statues stand in the outfield concourse behind the fountains. Three of the statues are located in right field (featuring George Brett, Dick Howser and Frank White, all of whom have had their numbers retired by the Royals), and in left field is the former Royals owner Ewing Kauffman and his wife Muriel.
There’s nothing like Opening Day. There’s nothing like the start of a new season. I started playing baseball when I was seven years old and quit playing when I was 40, so it’s kind of in my blood.
Gene Budig is a former American League President. He’s also a former chancellor of the University of Kansas, where I happen to work. Budig’s tenure as chancellor happened before my time at KU, but when his book Clearing the Bases came out, it was made available to employees of the university. A few weeks ago, a lady I work with came across a long-forgotten stack of the book, and knowing that I am a baseball fan, offered one to me.
Clearing the Bases: Nine Who Did It with Grit and Class offers biographical sketches of nine individuals who had an impact on the game of baseball. The book discusses Cal Ripken, Jr., Bobby Brown, George Brett, Joe Torre, Bob Feller, Mike Ilitch, Marty Springstead, Bill Madden, and Frank Robinson. Budig gives information about their backgrounds, their careers, and their accomplishments. Furthermore, Budig knew each of these individuals personally and offers his own candid insights into their character and impact.
Perhaps my favorite part about these biographies, however, is that they also make mention of community contributions that each of these men have made. Bobby Brown, for example, went to medical school and became a cardiologist. Joe Torre and his wife created the Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation, and he campaigns against any type of domestic abuse. Bob Feller served for four years in the United States Navy, right as he would’ve been in his prime as a baseball player.
Furthermore, Budig doesn’t talk merely about baseball players. He includes figures who have impacted the game in other ways. Marty Springstead was an umpire. Michael Ilitch owns the Detroit Tigers, the Detroit Red Wings, and founded Little Caesar’s Pizza. Bill Madden is a sportswriter.
This book is a fast read, too. I made my way through it in one afternoon and enjoyed every minute of it. Budig’s writing style is engaging and certainly not the over-complicated rhetoric that one often sees with academics. It appears there was a second edition of the book released a couple years after this one, titled Swinging For the Fences. I do not know whether there are any significant differences between that edition and Clearing the Bases. So far as I have been able to tell from what I’ve seen online, they appear to be the same book. That would be another title to watch for, if you are considering giving this one a read.
This is a cool piece put out by the New York Times, which revolves around this photo taken during Game 5 of last year’s World Series, when Eric Hosmer made his now-infamous mad dash to the plate to tie the game.
The Times managed to track down eleven of the folks sitting in the stands in this photo and asked for their perspectives on how it all went down. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and I think that definitely applies in this case. All the same, I still find it interesting to explore the responses of the fans that the Times managed to interview.
You can see the frustration on our faces. It was just: ‘I can’t believe this just happened.’ Everyone was in the same shocked state of mind. This can’t be! It just can’t be! The game should be over.
You can find the complete collection of interviews, including audio recordings, here: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/04/01/sports/baseball/ny-mets-kansas-city-royals-opener.html
Hitting is a strange thing. You’re so smart talking about hitting, and then you step into the batter’s box, and something happens to you. You get stupid. It’s like everything goes out the window. You step into the batter’s box, and immediately you turn into a third-grader. Fortunately, pitchers are like second-graders.
~ George Brett
I love George Brett’s Hall of Fame induction speech. His passion for baseball is apparent in every word and every story that he expresses. It’s no secret why he continues to be considered a hero in Kansas City.
If a tie is like kissing your sister, losing is like kissing you grandmother with her teeth out.
In 1980, Royals third baseman George Brett made a strong run at finishing with a batting average above .400 for the season, an accomplishment last achieved by Ted Williams in 1941. The last day of the season in which Brett’s average stayed above .400, however, came on September 19th, when he went 2-for-4 against the A’s in Kansas City. What followed was a 4-for-27 slump, from which Brett could not rebound in time. He finished the season hitting .390 and won the American League MVP award.
“Obviously I disagreed with the call, so I calmly went out there to question them.” – George Brett
The famous Pine Tar incident, 24 July 1983 at Yankee Stadium. The video does a sufficient job of showcasing and explaining the event itself, so I won’t waste your time by reiterating it here.
But what is pine tar? Of what use is it to a baseball player?
Pine tar is a sticky material derived from the roots and stump of pine trees. When it was first created in Sweden, ropes and wooden ships were coated with it for the sake of waterproofing and preservation. When used on a baseball bat, pine tar creates a texture that makes it easier to grip the bat and prevents it from slipping from the player’s hands in the hot, humid weather. It also allows a hitter to get more “pop” out of the bat without having to utilize a death grip on the handle. But does it really give a batter an advantage when it comes to hitting a baseball? According to former American League President Lee MacPhail: no, it doesn’t.
In 1983, according to Official Playing Rule 6.06(a), “a batter is out for illegal action when he hits an illegally batted ball.” And according to Rule 1.10(b), a bat “treated with any material [including pine tar] … which extends past the 18 inch limitation … shall cause the bat to be removed from the game.” It was by combining these two rules that the umpires decided to rule the play an out.
In the case of George Brett, MacPhail overrode the call because the rule had more to do with economics than with any potential competitive advantage. As he states in the video, “Pine tar didn’t help that ball that Brett hit go out of the ballpark.” However, if pine tar gets on a baseball, it renders the ball unfit for continued use in a Major League game. MacPhail argued that while the ruling was “technically defensible, [it] is not in accord with the intent or spirit of the rules. […] The rules provide instead that the bat be removed from the game. The protest of the Kansas City Club is therefore upheld and the home run by Brett is therefore permitted to stand.” The rule has since been revised in the spirit of this interpretation and clearly states today that since no objection was made to Brett’s use of the bat prior to his hitting the home run, the play stood.
According to the official rule book of 2012:
Rule 1.10(c) Comment: If pine tar extends past the 18-inch limitation, then the umpire, on
his own initiative or if alerted by the opposing team, shall order the batter to use a different bat. The batter may use the bat later in the game only if the excess substance is removed. If no objections are raised prior to a bat’s use, then a violation of Rule 1.10(c) on that play does not nullify any action or play on the field and no protests of such play shall be allowed.
The image of George Brett charging out of the dugout, arms flailing, is one that no doubt will stand the test of time. As New York’s Don Mattingly described it, “The sight of George coming out of the dugout is etched in my mind forever. That roar symbolizes the way he plays the game, the kind of fire he has.” Makes me wish I could have been there to see it in person.
Boxscores for the game can be found here: http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/1983/B07240NYA1983.htm
“2012 Edition: Official Baseball Rules.” MLB.com. Commissioner of Baseball, 2011. Web. Accessed 13 March 2013. http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/downloads/y2012/Official_Baseball_Rules.pdf
Hoefs, Jeremy. “What Is Baseball Pine Tar?” Livestrong.com. Demand Media, Inc., 23 Mar 2010. Web. Accessed 13 March 2013. http://www.livestrong.com/article/84132-baseball-pine-tar/
“Royals Hall of Fame Photo Galleries: The Pine Tar Game.” MLB.com. MLB Advanced Media LP, 2001-2013. Web. Accessed 13 March 2013. http://kansascity.royals.mlb.com/photos/gallery.jsp?content_id=27838192&c_id=kc