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

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.

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

The U.S. Open Golf Championship is underway this week in Wisconsin. A Lenexa man has a special connection to this golf major. But he’s not playing on the course.

He helped design it, and Ron Whitten took an unusual route to becoming a golf course architect.

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City fans celebrated when the Royals won the 2015 World Series, but the team has struggled since then, especially this year. Management has started to make changes, and fans are losing their enthusiasm.

But there are still some hard-core fans holding out hope that they can make one more run at the playoffs before the complexion of the team changes even more.

Todd Weddle / Northwest Missouri State University

Northwest Missouri State junior Justin Pitts was named the NCAA Division II Player of the Year this week by Basketball Times magazine. He’s a 5-foot-9-inch point guard from Blue Springs South High School.

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

The Raytown South High School boys' basketball team was only one victory short of making the state semifinals in Columbia, Missouri. Instead, Kearney High School is on its way there after beating Raytown on Saturday. 

Raytown South’s recent success was a lift for a program scorched by unresolved accusations of racial discrimination towards the team.

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

The Big 12 men’s basketball tournament begins Wednesday downtown at the Sprint Center. Top-seeded Kansas doesn’t play until Thursday in the quarterfinals, but KU has already put itself in elite company winning its 13th consecutive regular season Big 12 title. That ties the Jayhawks with UCLA.

KU faced challenges on the court, but even more trouble off the court en route to this year’s title.

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

Updated: Monday, 10:30 a.m.

The Kansas City Royals and fans are reacting to the news of the death of one of their top young starting pitchers. Twenty-five-year old Yordano Ventura was killed on Sunday in a one-car accident in the Dominican Republic, where he grew up and lived. 

Queen Yuna / Flickr - CC

Figure skating competitors are in Kansas City this week for the U.S. Figure Skating Championships at Sprint Center. It’s the first time the figure skating national championships are in Kansas City since 1985. That was a breakthrough year for diversity in the sport, the figure skating nationals have struggled since then to match that diversity.

Phil Hersh, a former writer for the Chicago Tribune who covered 30 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, calls Tiffany Chin’s performance at the 1985 championships an “absolute revelation.”

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

While Arrowhead Stadium will be jammed on Sunday for the Kansas City Chiefs playoff game, the Chiefs must still deal with the case of the parking lot fatality from three years ago.

Though the criminal case over the death of Kyle Van Winkle was settled last year, a wrongful death suit against the Chiefs is still pending. The victim’s family has also named the perpetrator, Joshua Bradley, in the suit. The lawsuit addresses several parking lot issues that the Chiefs continue to deal with.

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

The Kansas City Chiefs will host the Pittsburgh Steelers this Sunday in an AFC divisional playoff game. Some experts feel this year’s Chiefs have the best shot at reaching the Super Bowl since they won it in 1970. The other side of it is the heartbreak Chiefs fans have become accustomed to in the post-season.

Ian Echlin

The Northwest Missouri State football team won its second straight NCAA Division II championship on Saturday, but the shine from that trophy wore off when the university announced just a few hours later that football coach Adam Dorrel was leaving. He accepted an offer to coach at Abilene Christian University in Texas.

Richard Wright, the newly-named coach, has hardly had time to think about the big shoes he’ll fill. In six years, Adam Dorrel took the Bearcats football team to a level the university had never seen before.

Dale Grosbach

The Baker University football team will try to accomplish something no other athletics team at the school in Baldwin City, Kansas has pulled off—winning a national championship. The Wildcats (14-0) will play Saint Francis (12-1) of Fort Wayne, Indiana, for the NAIA title Saturday in Daytona Beach, Florida.

In the highly competitive world of football recruiting, the approach at a small school like Baker is different.

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

For the second year in a row and third time in the last four years, the Rockhurst University men’s soccer team advanced to the NCAA Division II semifinal matches. Only this time it was practically in the Hawks’ back yard at Swope Park Village.

The Hawks had everything they wanted, including a raucous group of blue-clad students in the stands, with hopes of reaching the title match for the first time in program history.

Except for the win.

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

Before Allen Stallings started work in a NASCAR pit crew he was a linebacker for Greensboro College in North Carolina. The transition from the playing field to the race track is becoming more common. In fact, NASCAR is recruiting former college athletes for these high pressure jobs.

Stallings and the other race teams on the NASCAR circuit stopped at the Kansas Speedway over the weekend for the Hollywood Casino 400.

Brook Ward / Flickr-CC

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill has already made an impression on the field just four games into his rookie season. But it’s his past off the field that has drawn the Chiefs into the controversy concerning how the NFL deals with players who commit domestic violence.

The NFL has been under fire for how it handles its domestic abuse offenders. The controversy surfaced in Kansas City on the NFL Draft’s second day last April when the Chiefs chose Tyreek Hill in the fifth round.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

The NCAA has put off its December announcement on future championship sites to give itself the chance to monitor what happens in state legislatures this fall.

When the Missouri legislature re-convenes, it’s possible that a so-called "religious freedom" bill may pop up again on the agenda. That concerns Kansas City Sports Commission Executive Director Kathy Nelson. Especially since the sports commission submitted a record of 55 bids to the NCAA to host championships.

“For us, we have 55 have chances to get shot down if someone decides to vote for this,” said Nelson.

rizha ubal / Flickr-CC

Before John McLendon died in 1999 at the age of 84, he knew he was already a part of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a contributor in the 1979 class. But in this year’s class, which includes Shaquille O’Neal, he was honored among the greatest as a coach.

As fortunate as I was to record a 21-minute interview with McLendon in 1998, while attending a luncheon in conjunction with the NAIA men’s basketball tournament, I could have spent hours listening to someone as humble as he about his achievements.

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

Pull into the Arrowhead Stadium parking lot for a Kansas City Chiefs game and what do you notice? Besides the plume of smoke from the barbeque grills, you can’t miss the sea of red. Not only do fans wear the colors, more tailgate vehicles display them.

And, in recent years, more old school buses are converted into party buses. 

As time ran short before the Chiefs pre-season opener against Seattle on Aug. 13, Dallas Kidd and his co-workers used 30 cans of spray paint to transform a small, old yellow school bus into a party vehicle for Chiefs games.

One year ago, the Chiefs celebrated the return of veteran safety Eric Berry after his recovery from cancer. But he was conspicuously absent from the annual Chiefs Chamber of Commerce luncheon Friday afternoon.

Berry hasn’t yet signed a contract, but he is set to earn $10.8 million this season, and multiple reports say he’ll return to the Chiefs after Saturday’s pre-season game in Chicago.

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

With the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in full swing, nearly all eyes have been glued to the outcomes of the swimming events and women’s gymnastics at their respective venues in Brazil.

But some of the local athletes like archer Zach Garrett of Wellington, Missouri, and tennis player Jack Sock of Overland Park, Kansas, have also made their impact on the Olympic games.

Discus thrower Mason Finley is one of several track and field athletes with local connections scheduled to begin competition Friday.

Ian Echlin / KCUR 89.3

One of the focal points in the Olympics this summer will be swimmer Michael Phelps. Another swimmer, whose first name is Michael and lives outside Lawrence, Kansas, narrowly missed out on the Olympics this year. He’s 17, and big things are predicted of him despite an unconventional training path.

So big that ESPN The Magazine claims that the family of Michael Andrew says he can become this generation’s Michael Phelps. Andrew’s parents don’t recall saying that.

Regardless, Andrew became one of the most talked about swimmers who failed to make the Olympics.

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

In spring training, the Kansas City Royals hoped that Kyle Zimmer, their No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft, would pitch for them in the big leagues sometime this season.

It won’t happen.

Zimmer, 24, will undergo surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome, a compression of nerves between the neck and the shoulder.

Royals general manager Dayton Moore said he wishes Zimmer experienced a smoother professional career.

Tatiana/flickr-- cc

  Overland Park's  Jack Sock is defending his first singles tennis title at the ATP’s U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship underway in Houston. Sock, 23, is currently ranked No. 25 in the world and is the second-best American singles-player behind John Isner.

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

This is the time of year when college basketball coaches play musical chairs. They’re coming and going.

The big news since the Big 12 tournament was TCU’s hiring of one of its former players, Jamie Dixon. But around Kansas City, there’s one fan base that’s unhappy about not reaching out to one of its alumni.

Alan Martin, a Kansas State alumnus who lives in Olathe, works in the insurance business. Away from work, he cheers passionately for the Wildcats. So much so that he isn’t afraid to speak his mind, especially about the Wildcats’ slide in men’s basketball lately.

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