Archive for Wednesday, April 1, 2020

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Former Mirror sports editor creates bobblehead ballpark as ode to Opening Day

When there is no Major League Baseball, or any sports for that matter, these days, one improvises. Justin Nutter turned his basement into a Kauffman Stadium of sorts on Opening Day. Read more about the former Mirror sports editor’s bobblehead ballpark on page 6A.

When there is no Major League Baseball, or any sports for that matter, these days, one improvises. Justin Nutter turned his basement into a Kauffman Stadium of sorts on Opening Day. Read more about the former Mirror sports editor’s bobblehead ballpark on page 6A.

April 1, 2020

When Opening Day is canceled, a Royals fan must improvise.

As the pandemic continued and residents worked to keep their social distance, Justin Nutter got creative.

It’s easy to forget that this would have been this day or that would have started that day during the current situation, but the former Mirror sports editor celebrated Opening Day with several Royals in the comfort of his own basement.

Nutter, who now lives in Olathe, has become an avid bobblehead collector. He is part of a Facebook group of Royals memorabilia enthusiasts and saw a post from a fan who created a field of sorts in his home, putting bobble head “players” at their positions.

Nutter took the idea and pulled out all of the stops.

“It was an evening well-spent,” Nutter said.

His wife, Allison and daughter, Evelyn, who just turned 19 months, watched a movie upstairs while Nutter spent a couple hours creating his own Kauffman Stadium on the basement floor.

In total, Nutter has just more than 50 bobble heads — 28 of them suited up for his Opening Day.

His starting lineup had a pretty good mix of current and former greats.

Catcher Salvador Perez was behind home plate, Whit Merrifield at second, Adalberto Mondesi at shortstop and Alex Gordon in left.

At first base was Mike Sweeney, third base George Brett, centerfield Bo Jackson, right field Lorenzo Cain and pitching was Wade Davis.

Buck O’Neil was scouting in his special red chair behind home plate and Denny Matthews up in the recliner “press box.”

His attention to detail didn’t stop there.

Some repurposed cardboard became the outfield wall, commemorative buttons served as outfield wall logos and some of Evelyn’s bath toys — blue numbers — symbolized the Royals’ various retired numbers. There was a 5 (George Brett), 10 (Dick Howser) and 20 (Frank White).

Some of Evelyn’s Lego Duplos building blocks were used to construct the “giant” scoreboard beyond center field.

“I hijacked her iPad to make the Jumbotron,” Nutter said about his wife’s electronic device.

Sluggerrr, meanwhile hung out in the upper deck couch with the fans, which were, well, fans — a couple oscillating tower fans and a desk fan.

Oh, and two of Allison’s small air diffusers served as the outfield fountains.

“They happened to be light blue, so it worked out nicely,” Nutter said.

Nutter shared photos and videos of his bobblehead stadium on Facebook and Twitter. His sister shared the status in a Facebook group that garnered 61 likes, 10 shares and 397 video views.

He also tweeted the video, which caught the attention of the official Royals Twitter page. The video received 27 likes and 1,766 views on Twitter.

So all in all, it reached about 2,000 people.

Nutter first started collecting the Royals bobbleheads when he was in high school at Topeka High and college at Kansas State in the late 2000s and early 2010s when the Royals first started bobblehead promotions.

“Basically when the Royals were garbage, right?” Nutter said. “Those were just incentives to get people to come to the ballpark.”

And then the Royals found ultimate success, back-to-back World Series appearances and the franchise’s first World Series championship in 30 years.

With the success came bobble head promotions with more frequency each year. And that’s how Nutter’s collection grew.

The memorabilia has gotten pretty popular. Like baseball cards of old, the bobble heads also can be a decent investment.

Nutter said he jokingly has reminded his wife in past conversations with a simple promise.

“If I kick the bucket and you don’t sell them, I will haunt you,” Nutter said.

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