On Tuesday, Experience Baseball held its first event in Kansas City at Kauffman Stadium. Overall, the event went very well.
We arrived at the parking lot of Kauffman Stadium five and a half hours before game time and secured ourselves a pretty awesome location. We began the afternoon by setting up our tailgate zone. It was not just a spot, it was a full fledged zone: three parking spots, two sets of tailgating games, three tables, a canopy and even an Experience Baseball banner.
Next, we went to see the room where the educational presentation was going to be taking place and set everything up. We had a solid turnout of people. The presentation on baseball and the community in Kansas City, given by Dr. Ray Doswell, was extremely interesting and informative. He spoke of the rich baseball history in Kansas City, both in the Negro Leagues and in the Major Leagues, and how the community was deeply tied to their baseball teams. What many people did not seem to know was that there were many teams in Kansas City before the arrival of the Royals. In the 1880′s, there were two Kansas City Cowboys with no connection, then there came the Kansas City Blues at the turn of the century. The Blues were later the Washington Senators and are now the Minnesota Twins. Blues Stadium, where the Blues played eventually became the home stadium of the Kansas City Monarchs as well. The Monarchs became one of the most famous Negro Leagues teams in the country. The Athletics were originally based out of Kansas City before they were moved to Oakland. The Royals were finally established in 1967, their name matching other Kansas City professional sports teams, like the Monarchs, Kings (NBA), and the Chiefs (NFL). One thing was for certain, whatever baseball team was in Kansas City, the fans were always incredibly loyal.
After the great presentation, everyone went down to the tailgate for some famous Gates Bar B.Q. and fun. A heated argument broke out over whether Gates BBQ or Oklahoma Joe’s, another Kansas City barbeque staple, was better. Our Programs Manager, Nick, claimed that Gates’ brisket was better than Oklahoma Joe’s brisket and I am pretty sure our General Manager, Toby, thought about firing him on the spot for his supposedly blasphemous words. Eventually the argument dissipated and everyone enjoyed the experience. We had two sets of tailgating games, ladders and washers, which kept us all busy. With a 20-18 score, my team lost an epic game of ladders on the very last toss 20-21.
Once I had brushed off the crushing defeat, we cleaned up, handed out all 50 of our tickets, and headed into the ballpark for the game. Kauffman Stadium is a very open park. There are not many seats in the outfield, allowing for plenty of standing room, and an unimpeded view of the green hills out of the stadium. The outfield has two fountains flanking a massive jumbotron in straight center field. The vertical screen is topped, of course, with a crown, which would light up at key moments in the game and the fountains changed colors throughout the night. Kansas City is the “City of Fountains” and Kauffman Stadium did not disappoint with its colorful fountains.
The Royals played the Braves. I was cheering for the Royals because I can not stand the tomahawking and chanting of the Braves fans (sorry). There were a decent amount of Atlanta faithful, but the stadium was filled mostly with the light blue of the Royals. It was a closely contested game, but unfortunately, the Braves held on to came out on top 4-3. Despite the Royals’ loss, Experience Baseball put on a successful event and everyone enjoyed their time at the ballpark from the presentation to the tailgate and from the tailgate to the last pitch. Now we look forward to putting on another successful event on Tuesday at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, as the White Sox take on the Orioles.