Greg Echlin | KCUR

Greg Echlin

Sports Reporter

Ever since he set foot on the baseball diamond at Fernwood Park on Chicago's South Side, Greg Echlin began a love affair with the world of sports.  After graduating from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, he worked as a TV sports anchor and a radio sportscaster in Salina, Kansas.  He moved to Kansas City in 1984 and has been there since covering sports.  Through the years, he has covered multiple Super Bowls, Final Fours and Major League Baseball's World Series and All-Star games.
 
With his high metabolism rate, Greg is able to enjoy a good meal and stay slim when he's not running around on the sports scene.  He loves desserts, even making them.  Cheesecakes, pies and parfaits are the most common around the Echlin household.

Ways to Connect

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game is taking place this week in Washington, D.C., with Salvador Perez representing the Royals.

But there’s another Kansas City tie: The first All-Star game was played in 1933, the same year the Washington (D.C.) Senators went to the World Series with a first baseman who was known around Kansas City, Missouri. His name was Joe Kuhel (pronounced “cool”).

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

Bethany College track and cross country coach Aaron Yoder spends a lot of time on the treadmill in the Lindsborg, Kansas, school’s cardio room. It doesn’t seem unusual unless you see what he’s doing — running backward.

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

Alfonzo King presided over Kansas City’s public golf courses in the 1960s and 1970s. That was especially true at Swope Park, where he’d regularly play 18 holes with barbeque icon Ollie Gates and civic leader Bruce Watkins.

“A lot of guys used to come down from L.A., Chicago,” the 73-year-old said. “Everybody wanted to come to Kansas City to beat me. I was the drawing card.”

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

Golfers in this week’s U.S. Open will be trying to avoid hitting a ball into the sand. But at courses in Harrisonville, Missouri, or Leonardville, Kansas, finding the sand is equivalent to a day at the beach.

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

The U.S. men’s soccer team won’t be in this summer’s World Cup in Russia, and the organization is trying to figure out how to re-enter the world’s consciousness. In that, Kansas City plays a prominent role —in more ways than one. 

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

The Kansas City Chiefs won’t go to trial this week over the December 2013 beating death of a Smithville man in the Arrowhead Stadium parking lot, opting instead to settle out of court. 

It’s the second lawsuit the Chiefs have settled this year over fan safety, and there’s a third slated for trial next month involving a fan who was injured during a fracas in the grandstands.

Ty Russell / OU Athletics

Patty Gasso has spent her last 24 years in the dugout, coaching Oklahoma’s softball team to 12 Women’s College World Series appearances.

But she’s an anomaly in the Big 12 Conference: one of only three women heading a softball team. Among the Power 5 conferences (Big 12, SEC, Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12), the Big 12 is the only one to have more men running softball teams than women.

Erica Hunzinger / KCUR 89.3

As the Kansas City Royals celebrate the franchise’s 50th year, the team is hoping to rekindle what made them successful early on. And that all started by trading an obscure pitcher named John Gelnar.

Ian Echlin

In December, Kansas Jayhawks coach Bill Self did not have reassuring words about the men’s basketball team.

“This is the softest team that Kansas has had since I’ve been here,” Self said.

Those remarks came after the Jayhawks suffered a home loss to Arizona State on Dec. 10. Just four days earlier, Kansas lost to Washington in front of a friendly crowd at the Sprint Center.

KU’s play, even in some wins this season, left Self frustrated. 

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

As they advanced over the first two weekends of the NCAA tournament to reach the Final Four, the University of Kansas Jayhawks played inside arenas relatively close to Lawrence, which gave them some friendly crowds.

But at the Alamodome in a dome in San Antonio, it’ll take more of an effort to win over Texans in the crowd who aren't dressed in Villanova, Michigan or Loyola colors.

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City native Amaad Wainright already has had some big moments with the Kansas State men’s basketball team, including the team's run to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 and a season-high 35 minutes played during a Big 12 tournament loss to conference champion Kansas earlier this month.

MU Athletics

For the first time in 17 years, the Missouri Tigers are playing in the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. Check out the rosters, and you’ll find one surname listed five times: Porter.

There are the brothers likely bound for the NBA, Michael Porter Jr. and Jontay; sisters Cierra Porter, a junior forward, and graduate assistant Bri Porter; and the patriarch, Michael Porter Sr., an assistant coach for the men’s team.

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

Updated at 7 p.m. March 9 with updated travel details — Kansas men’s basketball team is just down the road from home this week for the Big 12 conference in Kansas City. Mizzou only had to go to St. Louis.

UMKC, on the other hand, traveled more than 1,300 miles to Las Vegas for the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) tournament. The WAC is a far-flung conference: UMKC’s closest competitor is Chicago State. Otherwise, they’re going to places like Seattle and Bakersfield, California, and paying for the travel.

MU Athletics

Mizzou’s Michael Porter Jr. is the type of player coaches build a team around, and many wanted to. Even Kansas.

“The things that people say about him being a potential top-3 pick or the No. 1 pick, totally accurate,” Jayhawks coach Bill Self said last fall about Porter likely landing in the NBA. “I’d be shocked if he’s not. I think he’s every bit as good as advertised.”

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

About 300 alumni of North Kansas City High School, some of whom traveled hundreds of miles, gathered one last time Thursday night to pack themselves on wooden planks for the Hornets' final girls and boys basketball games at the facility that's been open since 1951.

These days, high school gymnasiums are usually built with retractable bleachers. But when the North Kansas City High School Fieldhouse is torn down and the wooden planked seats removed, the wrecking ball will drop on two giant slabs of staircased concrete.

Courtesy of UMKC Athletics

CSU-Bakersfield men’s basketball coach Rod Barnes emerged from the locker room late last month at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City. He was seeking a familiar face, one who gave Ole Miss its first all-African-American starting five, who encouraged him to not listen to naysayers.

He was looking for former UMKC athletic director and basketball coach Lee Hunt, the man who was on the leading edge of race relations in high school and college sports during the Civil Rights Era. Barnes found him, exclaiming, “Coach! It’s good to see you.”

Greg Echlin / KCUR

The four-lane road that connects Manhattan, Kansas, and Interstate 70 is wider and busier now than it was when Bill Snyder took over as Kansas State’s football coach in 1989. So much so that it’s named after Snyder, who has more than 200 wins at K-State, making him only the sixth person to do that with one football program.

Snyder is 78, the oldest coach in the top division of college football. And while his 26th season with the team ended Tuesday on a high note with a 35-17 win over UCLA in the Cactus Bowl, he says he isn’t sure whether he’ll return next season. And that uncertainty makes K-State fans apprehensive.

Courtesy of USA Shooting

USA Shooting athletes and the organization itself face a complicated situation every time a mass shooting happens. The governing body’s name alone is problematic.

“Guess what happens with our Google search terms or any time that comes up when a USA shooting happens?” USA Shooting communications director Kevin Neuendorf asked rhetorically.  “We’re automatically linked in with that tragedy.”

Greg Echlin / KCUR

Updated Dec. 1 with score of semifinal, date of title game — The undefeated Central Missouri Jennies women’s soccer team is hoping to earn its first NCAA Division II national championship.

But this season, which continues Saturday with the title game matchup against Carson-Newman, wasn’t without challenges: The team has been affected by an increasing national trend from high school athletics to the pros — concussions.

Al Chang / StanfordPhoto.com

This year’s NCAA women’s volleyball final four will be held at Sprint Center next month, and players with Kansas City roots are hoping for a homecoming.

Five volleyball players from Kansas City-area high schools are hoping to repeat last year’s success in the tournament. Their teams—Stanford, Minnesota and Texas—made it to the final four in 2016.

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

The Raytown School District board quietly approved an out-of-court settlement of a lawsuit filed by former Raytown South boys basketball coach Brad Oestreich. Though the financial terms were undisclosed, a source says the settlement didn’t involve any punitive damages. The case was scheduled to go to trial next week.

Before regularly scheduled meeting on Oct. 9, the board met behind closed doors to discuss “legal action, causes of action or litigation.” The case dismissal was officially posted on Oct. 31.

Henry Hauck / Sporting KC

Sporting Kansas City faces a win-or-go-home situation Thursday night in the Major League Soccer playoffs at Houston. It’s the seventh straight year Sporting is in the post-season. To develop its own players, the team is spending millions of dollars through its academy.

But Sporting’s investment hasn’t always paid off as planned.

Sporting Kansas City will have its players back from international duty for its final game of the regular season at Real Salt Lake on Sunday. Matt Besler, Graham Zusi and Benny Feilhaber—the three Sporting players on the U.S. team—faced disappointment after the team failed to qualify for the World Cup.

Courtesy of the Kansas City Royals

On the brink of being eliminated from the American League wild card race, questions concerning the Kansas City Royals turn to next year. Who’s coming back? And which player will lead the team?

Royals fans have a good idea by now about the leadership qualities of one player in particular, Whit Merrifield, for next year.

Level 5 Motorsports / Wikimedia Commons

Scott Tucker of Leawood goes on trial this week in New York for what has been called one of the nation’s biggest cases of payday-lending fraud.

In recent years, Tucker made a meteoric rise in the world of sports car racing and became one of the most well-known team owners and drivers on the circuit. But on the Kansas City sports scene, Tucker’s racing accomplishments received very little attention, and that’s the way he liked it.

Courtesy of KU Athletics

University of Kansas coach Bill Self was inducted inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Friday night in Springfield, Massachusetts. As an Oklahoma kid, Self at one time didn’t think he’d end up coaching at KU, but that’s the way it turned out.

Courtesty of Delray Beach Open

The top five men’s tennis players in the world are at least 30 or older. Twenty-four year old Jack Sock of Overland Park is part of the sport’s next generation hoping to change that.

When the U.S. Open Championships begin today, Sock has big ambitions. But in Kansas City where he digs in, Sock isn’t alone in his efforts.

Jack Sock routinely plays against the world’s best. Earlier this year, Sock faced Roger Federer, the eventual winner at Wimbledon this summer. In three matches against Federer, Sock has yet to beat him. But at the age of 35, Federer rarely loses.

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas is on the verge of breaking the team’s home run record. Former slugger Steve “Bye Bye” Balboni’s record of 36 home runs in one season has stood since 1985.

But if you consider the Kansas City A’s era, the record is further away — but still within reach. Some die-hard Kansas City fans don’t want that record to fall.

Kansas City Royals

John Schuerholz, the Kansas City Royals general manager when they won the 1985 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, was inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame Sunday in Cooperstown, New York, but he finds himself in the peculiar position of not receiving the Royals’ highest honor.

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

Major League Baseball’s All-Star festivities in Miami mark a celebration of the game and, for the players not involved, a much-needed break. But Miami is also buzzing with trade talk as the July 31 trading deadline approaches and the Kansas City Royals have been part of a lot of trade conversations.

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