Archive for Friday, July 13, 2012

Ebbert: All-Star events weren’t short on thrills

Last week's All-Star Game festivities gave baseball fans in Kansas City the opportunity to experience several once-in-a-lifetime events involving the game's top players.

Last week's All-Star Game festivities gave baseball fans in Kansas City the opportunity to experience several once-in-a-lifetime events involving the game's top players.

July 13, 2012

Editor's note: Grant Ebbert attended all three days of activities at Kauffman Stadium in conjunction with this year's All-Star Game. Here are his accounts of time spent at The K. Ebbert, a 2008 Tonganoxie High School graduate, also served as an intern at The Mirror while a senior at THS.

Back in June of 2010, when Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig announced that Kauffman Stadium would play host to the 2012 MLB All-Star Game, I knew that I had to be in attendance. When my dad told me that we were going to be part of this once-in-a-lifetime experience, I could not be happier.

Day 1: Sunday, July 8

The first day at the All-Star Game festivities at Kauffman Stadium was the Futures Game and Legends/Celebrity Softball Game. I was excited for the Futures Game because there were a couple of future Royals playing in the game. It was exciting to be able to see outfielder Wil Myers and starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi because there is a good chance they will be playing with the Royals soon.

The Legends/Celebrity Softball Game was just as fun. I was able to see many Kansas City celebrities from Royals greats George Brett and Bo Jackson to Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel. When Bill Self hit a home run, the crowd went wild as he rounded the bases. The loudest moment came when Joe Carter let the crowd persuade Bo Jackson to take the final at-bat of the game with a standing ovation, which he graciously accepted. The night ended with an impressive fireworks show.

Day 2: Monday, July 9

I could not wait for the Home Run Derby to start. It’s exciting just watching on TV, but it is even more impressive in person. Seeing baseballs hit 470 feet again and again was a real treat. Fans at Kauffman Stadium were cheering on all of the players participating except for one man — New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano. He was the captain of the American League team and he chose his team for the derby. About a month ago, Cano said he was going to pick a hometown player but he went back on his word and he did not pick Billy Butler.

When Cano stepped into the batter’s box the crowd — my dad and I included — let him know that we were not happy. The booing for Cano was the loudest I have ever heard such jeers at Kauffman Stadium. The only time the crowd cheered was when he hit each of his 10 outs. I believe that it was karma that did not allow him to hit a home run during the Derby. The best home run of the Derby went to Mark Trumbo of the Los Angeles Angels, who hit a ball onto the roof of the Royals Hall of Fame in left field. The winner of the derby was Prince Fielder, who is quite the home run hitter for the Detroit Tigers. He put on quite the show himself, hitting 28 homers that night. including 12 in the final round.

Day 3: Tuesday, July 10

On the third day, my dad and I arrived at Kauffman Stadium early so we could watch the players take batting practice. It was fun to see the players get ready for the game and joke around with each other. As game time approached, we put on the special shirts that Chevrolet gave to all the fans so that we could form an American flag in the stands. The Armed Forces also held a giant American flag in the outfield while Luke Bryan sang the National Anthem and a stealth bomber flew over the stadium. It was quite a patriotic moment.

During the pre-game introductions, Billy Butler was given a long standing ovation, while Cano was booed once again. When the game began, I was quite confident that the American League would win the 83rd All-Star Game. However, that optimism was short-lived as the National League scored five runs in the first inning. While the game was starting to get out of hand, I was still excited to see some of my favorite players and many of the new, young stars of the MLB.

There was not much excitement within the competition of the game, but the atmosphere and players provided the excitement. That was until Billy Butler came up to bat and the stadium erupted. This was Butler’s second standing ovation of the day, as the entire stadium seemingly cheered. It was so loud that the pitcher stepped off the mound to let Butler and the fans enjoy the moment. It reminded me of Chiefs games from the early 2000s. Although Butler could not reach base safely, it was still a proud moment for the Royals and their fans.

Butler had another chance to provide excitement in the ninth inning, and it felt as if he were going to hit a home run. But he struck out and the game came to an uneventful end with the National League winning, 8-0. The Most Valuable Player of the game was former Royal Melky Cabrera, who had two hits, including a home run. Many Royals fans that had stuck around for the postgame ceremonies cheered Cabrera as he was given his MVP trophy.

As my father and I walked out of Kauffman Stadium to our car, I could not help but thank him for allowing me to enjoy this with him. Being with my dad made all of these memories so much better and I do not know how I can ever repay for the three greatest days of my life. But he did give me a little suggestion as we pulled out of the parking lot:

“The next one is on you,” he said.

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