Kauffman Stadium

2016 Regular Season. Kansas City Royals hosted Baltimore Orioles at Kauffman Stadium (Kansas City, Missouri), home of the 2015 World Champions. A capacity crowd of nearly 40,000 came to see the home team and it was a perfect day for a twilight game; clear skies, a temperature of 78 degrees, and featuring hues of the sunset beyond words. For this time of year, you couldn’t ask for more. Both teams came into the game with 11 wins thus far in the season. On this day, Baltimore Orioles outperformed the Kansas City Royals 14 hits to 7. Royals starting pitcher Kris Medlen went 3 & 2/3 innings and gave up 9 of those Oriole hits. Baltimore Orioles beat Kansas City Royals 8-3. But, its early and, until someone proves different, the Royals are kings of baseball. 2015 was the first World Championship for the Kansas City Royals since that magical year in 1985 and the second in franchise history. Salvador Perez, as well as outfielder Jarrod Dyson and pitcher Danny Duffy are the only players from that 2015 Royals team that are on the current active player roster. Pitcher Greg Holland was traded away, re-signed, and is also on the 2021 Kansas City Royals. Orioles third baseman Manny Machado and Royals first baseman Erik Hossmer would eventually enter free agency and are now teammates for the long term with the San Diego Padres.

2016 was the 50th anniversary of the Astro Turf. When it was introduced in the Astrodome (1966), it was merely replacing the natural grass that was dying from lack of sun light through the opaque panels that enclosed the ballpark. As we all know, Astro turf took on a life of its own after that, a viable low maintenance material that became the kneejerk selection for the post-modern designs, the cookie-cutter stadiums of the 1960’s & 1970’s. Kauffman Stadium took a role in that history (1973-1994). Before that, the Royals played at Municipal Stadium (1969-1972), a year after the Athletics moved to Oakland, California. I visited Kauffman Stadium in 1993 and, from a fans point of view, it’s a different game now. It seemed like a much smaller ballpark back then; Maybe it’s the renovations and better use of space. Or, maybe it’s just because, after many years, places tend to look smaller than we revisit. Or, is it the other way around?

When in town, fan loyalty is not hard to find at all, banners on display and fans wearing their teams gear wherever you go. The great thing about being defending champions is you can relive the highlights of that magical season every day. As an added bonus, the fanbase enjoys a repeat appearance in the World Series (a feat in itself) to win it all after losing a hard-fought series to San Francisco Giants in 2014. This also means that, with rising ticket prices, loyalty is more expensive the year after. Still, there was a genuine feeling of a franchise and baseball family coming full circle from those pennant years of the 1970s & the 1980s. What happens at “The K” is held close to the cuff. Kansas City is the city with a thousand nicknames and they all describe royalty.

Kansas City Royals are one of four new expansion teams in 1969; Kansas City Royals, Seattle Pilots (later known as Milwaukee Brewers), San Diego Padres, and Montreal Expos later known as Washington Nationals). So, what’s the association with Kansas City and Royals? The franchise name is in honor of the “America Royal,” an annual event held throughout town since 1899 that features a livestock show, a horse show, a rodeo, and bar-b-que competition. It tends to get lost in translation but the honor was either “for cows” or “for an industry that helped create a strong economy in Kansas City and built by a strong working class, depending on how you look at it. But, the concept of royalty has evolved, identifying with every aspect of life in Kansas City; titles like the football Chiefs, the once basketball Kings, the Kings of Jazz, etc. The storied franchise of the Kansas City Monarchs was royalty in the Negro Leagues. And, speaking of royalty, there is one red seat in Kauffman Stadium that marks the spot where the Legendary Buck O’Neal sat for decades to watch and keep score of the Royals home games; a man with too many titles to mention them all. In short, he’s the soul of the game. And, if you don’t know who Buck O’Neal is, then you don’t know Kansas City.

Baltimore Orioles @ Kansas City Royals

Baltimore Orioles beat Kansas City Royals 8-3. Photos taken on Saturday April 23, 2016 by Miguel A. Sanchez.

Busch Stadium

2010 Regular Season. St. Louis Cardinals host Milwaukee Brewers at the new Busch Stadium (St. Louis, Missouri). to see two NL Central Division teams matched for the standings. Its the fourth of July game, when all players wear the specialty uniforms on the field for 4th of July weekend. Also included this year was the white cap with the team’s logo embroidered in the front with the stars and stripes of the red, white, and blue colored yarn. The Independence Day editions would also be worn on Memorial Day and on September 11th.

Public transportation will easily get you from Lambert–St. Louis International Airport straight to the trendy Union Station mall, to Busch Stadium, to The Arch, among other stops on the Metrolink train system. Stadium Station is across the street from the main entrance of Busch Stadium. If you’re a diehard Cardinals fan, you probably remember the first time you went up the escalators of the train’s platform to the street level and slowly started seeing the red brick architecture of the stadium. And, if you’re not aware of the baseball history that comes with the St. Louis Cardinals, look no further than the array of statutes in front of the main entrance. There are about ten of them.

This is actually Busch Stadium III (opened 2006). Busch Stadium I (1953-1966) was previously known as Sportsman’s Park III. And you guessed it, there was another lineage of fields named Sportsman’s Park. Baseball games on the site of Busch Stadium I, alias Sportsman’s Park III, can be traced back to the 1860’s. Busch Memorial Stadium, or Busch Stadium II (1966-2005) was among the cookie cutter parks built in the 1960’s & 1970’s. Baseball tradition in St. Louis is better known as the “Cardinal Way,” regardless of where home has been. St. Louis Cardinals are one of the winningest MLB franchises with (11) World Championships, second only to the New York Yankees with (27). They enjoy the loyalty of fans who know the history of baseball in St. Louis. They and the Boston Red Sox tend to have the better local market Nielsen ratings.

Prince Fielder, Ricky Weeks, and Carlos Gomez were still playing with Milwaukee Brewers. Lorenzo Cain was debuting with the Milwaukee Brewers before he was traded away to the Kansas City Royals. He won a World Championship with the Royals in 2015 and eventually found himself back in Milwaukee with another trade in 2018. He still plays with the Royals in the 2021 regular season. Craig Counsel, the current Manager of the Milwaukee Brewers, was still playing the last couple years of his 15-year career. Although the 2010 regular season ended with a losing record, they would keep grinding to win the NL Central Division the following year.

In this game, Albert Pujols went 1 for 3 with a run scored. The 2010 Cardinals did not play in the post season. But Albert Pujols would blaze a path to a historic free agency, after meeting these same Milwaukee Brewers in the 2011 NLCS and defeating them 4 games to 2, then winning the 2011 World Series where the Cardinals faced the Texas Rangers in one of the more memorable World Championships. In that series he would secure a place in history with Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson, hitting three home runs in Game 3.

Hard to believe it’s been 10 years and that Albert Pujols is at the tail end of that 10-year $240 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels. The 2021 season was his farewell tour. That is no longer the case. Associated Press reported on May 7th that the Los Angeles Angels abruptly ended the future Hall of Famer’s tenure with the team. Apparently, Albert Pujols was dissatisfied with the irregular playing time and his demands did not mix well with his slumping offensive numbers. He was recently declared a free agent, the rumor is that of the possible teams looking at Albert are Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, and St. Louis Cardinals. Officials from Dominican Republic also reached out to have Albert play for the Olympics qualification team. Its obvious that he still wants to play. Only Albert knows what he has left in the tank. What we do know is that Albert Pujols will go into the Hall of Hame, in a league of his own and wearing the St Louis Cardinals cap.   

      Milwaukee Brewers @ St. Louis Cardinals

Negro Big Leagues

2016 visit to Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM), in Kansas City, Missouri. A group of local historians, business leaders, and former baseball players came together to create the NLBM in the early 1990s. It’s located in the Historic 18th & Vine Jazz District of Kansas City, MO., the center for black culture and life in Kansas City from the late 1800s-1960s. A top baseball destination; next to the National Baseball Hall of Fame Museum in Cooperstown, New York.

MLB announced, December of last year, that it would recognize the Negro Leagues as a major league. Since then, the nervous energy of questions and reactions grows.  For those who have studied or procured the delicate history of the Negro Leagues; could they ever have imagined this outcome? Through their blood sweat and tears of research, we know that the Negro Leagues were comprised of seven leagues listed below.

  • Negro National League (1920-1931)
  • Eastern Colored League (1923-1928)
  • American Negro League (1929)
  • East-West League (1932)
  • Negro Southern League (1932)
  • Negro National League (1933-1948)
  • Negro American League (1937-1960)

The Challenge to merge these sparse records with over 140 years of the leagues that have formed Major League Baseball. We’ll hear debates that will change the way we think of the timeline; rewriting the record books for decades to come.

2020 was the 100th Anniversary of the founding of the Negro Leagues in 1920. Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro League Baseball Museum here in Kansas City, recently announced that they will continue to celebrate the leagues. The “Negro Leagues 101” Campaign will include opportunities to engage, to educate, to make discoveries, and to find new ways to celebrate the history.