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

Brian Davidson

Major League Soccer’s championship, the MLS Cup, will be played Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. between Sporting Kansas City and Real Salt Lake at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan.

The match, set for the latest date in the 18-year history of the league, is also expected to be the coldest championship in league history. But, are temperatures in the 20s under these wintry conditions seem appropriate for an outdoor soccer game?

"That’s not what I think of as soccer conditions," says Sporting Kansas City season ticket holder Jessie Williams. 

Justin Morbeck/ Flickr-CC

In Kansas City, 1969 is remembered as the Chiefs’ last Super Bowl season. It’s also the last time when two stalwarts, one undefeated and the other with only one loss, butted heads this late in the season. The Minnesota Vikings were 10-and-1 when they squared off against the unbeaten Los Angeles Rams.

Sunday night’s game between the Chiefs and the Denver Broncos pits the league’s best defense against the most prolific offense. Taking the rivalry between the two teams to a different level.

Greg Echlin / KCUR

A loss by the Denver Broncos Sunday night leaves the Kansas City Chiefs as the NFL’s only undefeated team. But, the Chiefs had a difficult time securing their seventh straight win.

From the outset, everything seemed to favor the Chiefs: a home game at Arrowhead Stadium a week after setting a Guinness Book world record for the loudest outdoor stadium and an opponent that named a rookie quarterback making his first NFL start. But the Chiefs, rejuvenated by Alex Smith — a quarterback with a fresh start this season in Kansas City — grabbed the lead for good on his five-yard run.

Darren Whitley / Northwest Missouri State

The second of two college football games at Arrowhead Stadium this season takes place Saturday. Northwest Missouri and Pittsburg State, two powerhouse NCAA Division II teams with undefeated records, will meet head-to-head. But the future is uncertain for this and other major college games being played at Arrowhead.

There have been no major college games at Arrowhead the last three seasons. That’s since the University of Missouri announced it would be departing for the Southeastern Conference and the University Kansas announced they would refuse to play Mizzou.

Greg Echlin / KCUR

Kansas City Chiefs executives and players distributed frozen dinners Tuesday at Arrowhead Stadium to agencies representing low-income families.

The Chiefs are celebrating their 10-year partnership with Tyson Foods and the Lift-Up America organization. 

"Twenty-five thousand families will be blessed with a meal as a result of the giveaway," said chairman of the board, Clark Hunt, who spearheaded the program 10 years ago.

Elana Gordon / KCUR

Through six games, the NFL is down to two undefeated teams, and the Kansas City Chiefs are one of them.

After their 24-7 victory over the Oakland Raiders, the Chiefs are tied for first in the AFC West with the NFL’s only other undefeted team, the Denver Broncos.

Arrowhead Stadium also had another milestone moment during Sunday's game.

Greg Echlin / KCUR

The Kansas City Chiefs aren’t the only area football team with a 5-0 record. On the major college level, the Missouri Tigers are 5-0 and ranked number 25 in this week’s Associated Press poll.

The Tigers opened their Southeastern Conference schedule last Saturday with a victory over Vanderbilt University. The Tigers head deeper south this weekend to face the 7th-ranked Georgia Bulldogs. It’s still an adjustment period for fans following the Tigers in their second year of the SEC.

Greg Echlin / KCUR

NASCAR’s Sprint Cup drivers are still trying to shake off the “cheating” label that has shrouded the sport  over the last month. They’ll be at Kansas Speedway for the year’s biggest entertainment weekend in Wyandotte County.

The Kansas City Chiefs are 3-0 so far this season, and with that kind of record comes more attention and fan interest. As a result, the Chiefs are dealing with ancillary issues as they prepare for Sunday’s home game at Arrowhead Stadium against the New York Giants.

In the preseason, some Kansas City Chiefs employees feverishly worked behind the scenes on a separate issue: traffic and parking. But, it may not have been enough.

"Operationally, we had some significant missteps," says Chiefs president Mark Donovan, who suggests fans leave early to avoid traffic gridlock.

In pursuit of post-season play, the Kanas City Royals revived interest September baseball.  For the final home game at Kauffman Stadium a crowd of more than 27,000 gathered. Manager Ned Yost sensed the enthusiasm.

“We needed to get the crowd into the game early, and we couldn’t do it,” said Yost.

Then the Royals loaded the bases in the tenth inning of the scoreless ballgame when Justin Maxwell stepped to the plate.

“I was just thinking of trying to hit it hard,” said Maxwell.

There was no doubt when Maxwell hit it. It was a grand slam.

Heading into late September, the Kansas City Royals are holding on to their hopes of reaching baseball’s playoffs for the first time since their World Series championship in 1985. A late season surge reversed a downward spiral at the All-Star break.

A rocky start to the season  

This spring the Kansas City Royals tied a franchise record set only one year earlier for 11 straight losses at home. Manager Ned Yost seemed at a loss about what to do next.

The Kansas City Chiefs are now 2-0 in the young NFL season after a 17-16 win over the Dallas Cowboys Sunday in the home opener.

Only two weeks into the 2013 season, the Chief's record is equal to last year's entire victory total. They grabbed the lead for good late in the third quarter, and the fans at Arrowhead Stadium sniffed a chance to bask in the Chiefs' second win of the season under new head coach Andy Reid.

"When our fans are going, you can feel that field," said Reid. "It just rumbles a little bit. It's crazy but an awesome feeling."

Mike Morbeck / Flickr--Creative Commons

The Kansas City Chiefs open the 2013 NFL season with a road game Sunday in Jacksonville, Fla. With general manager and coaching changes this year, hopes are not just resting on a reversal from last year’s 2-14 record. It’s more about ending a drought that has now lasted 20 years.

Ironically, at the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce luncheon last week for the Kansas City Chiefs everyone there enjoyed a full plate, while eight-year veteran linebacker Derrick Johnson shared with the event’s emcee, Mitch Holthus, a rather desperate feeling.

Greg Echlin / KCUR

The new road course constructed within the oval at Kansas Speedway will be the site of sports car competition for the first time this weekend. Pricier models such as Porches, Ferraris and BMWs are more associated with this group of drivers compared to the more common Chevy, Ford and Toyotas on the NASCAR circuit.

And, the brand of cars isn’t the only thing different about sports car racing.

A golf rarity took place Sunday when two professionals with ties to the area won separate tournaments, and combined for more than $800,000 in prize money along the way.

Gary Woodland is a Topeka, Kan. native who played golf at KU. He won a PGA Tour event in Nevada and collected $540,000.

Earlier in the day, Tom Pernice Jr. earned more than $262,000 for a Champions Tour win among the 50-and-older pros.

With four top-5 finishes in the first five Champions Tour events Tom Pernice Jr. played this season, he said in late May he felt close to winning again.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

AS Roma defeated the MLS All-Star team Wednesday night 3-1 in the MLS All-Star game at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan.

The MLS team included three players from Sporting Kansas City, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler and Graham Zusi. Their opponent from Italy included United States National Team center midfielder Michael Bradley who received high praise during from stadium fans on his announcement onto the field.

Brian Davidson

Major League Soccer’s all-star game will offer the best of its league against Italy’s AS Roma at Sporting Park Wednesday in Kansas City, Kan. Though it’s tough to get a ticket for the match, it follows the pattern lately for Sporting Kansas City’s home games with a string of 27 straight sellouts.

Kansas City: soccer hotbed

It was raining Monday afternoon, but fans showed up with umbrellas to watch professional soccer players aim for a soccer goal across Brush Creek in the plaza.

Kansas City Royals legend George Brett is returning to the front office after almost two months as temporary hitting coach for the team. At a news conference Thursday, Brett was emotional when he said it wasn’t easy to leave the dug out once again.

The team is on the verge of traveling to three different cities on their current road trip, and Brett says traveling is rough on him.

Courtesy photo / Sporting KC

Sporting Kansas City coach Peter Vermes had his contract with the team extended Tuesday. Vermes is now under contract through the 2017 season

He says he really wasn't thinking about going anywhere else.

"When you're around this every day and you're around the leaders of this club, and you hear and understand what their vision is, it's an easy choice," said Vermes. "You'd be an idiot to not want to be a part of it."

Sporting Kansas City is currently in first place in the East Division of Major League Soccer.

Greg Echlin / KCUR

The PGA Tour’s web-dot-com circuit stops this week in the Kansas City area. First-round play begins Thursday at the Lions Gate course in Overland Park, Kan.

For a long time, area courses have served as the host site for golf tour events, but never a major. 

More than 34,000 fans attended Sunday’s final round of the US Senior Open at Omaha Country Club, the single largest attended sporting event in Omaha history.

It took place on a course that was built in the late 1920s. Tom Pernice, who grew up in Raytown, was impressed with the turnout.

Greg Echlin / KCUR

When the Major League Baseball All-Star game is played Tuesday night at Citi Field in New York, it will stir up memories from last year in Kansas City, Mo.

The game returned to Kauffman Stadium in 2012 after a 39-year absence. But, besides the memories, what is Kansas City left with after hosting the mid-summer classic?

Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig said in 2010 a footprint would be left in Kansas City long after the All-Star game’s last out.

Kansas City’s Tom Watson shot an even-par 70 Thursday in the first round of the U.S. Senior Open championship, only three shots behind the seven co-leaders.  Watson nearly won the British Open four years ago at the age of 59 and, in the opinion of one his peers, has a shot at winning it again. 

As one of Tom Watson’s playing partners, Colin Montgomerie marveled at how well Watson plays while on the verge of turning 64.

“He has every chance to do well again as he did at Turnberrry in 2009,” said Montgomerie.  “He’s a great competitor and remains that way.”

It was a big weekend for All-Star announcements in Kansas City.  Both the Kansas City Royals and Sporting KC had multiple players named to their respective league’s All-Star teams.

Outfielder Alex Gordon of the Kansas City Royals wasn’t on the American League team last year, but he was there when the cheers for his teammate Billy Butler drowned out the introduction. 

“I don’t cry at all, but I actually cried when I saw Bill get announced and all the support he got,” says Gordon.

Gordon says playing with Butler for the past six years has been special. 

What started out promising has turned into another nightmare for the Kansas City Royals.  

The Royals managed only two hits--both by last year's All-Star, Billy Butler--against St. Louis Cardinals pitching Tuesday night.

Much of the Royals' high hopes depended on the production of the young players they've developed such as Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas. But they've been disappointing.

Manager Ned Yost is preaching patience.

"What do asking want me to do? Take my belt off and spank them? Yell at them? Scream at them?" said Yost.

Greg Echlin

Because of a hand injury last year, Tom Watson was unable to defend the last tournament he won, the Senior PGA Championship. But he’s healthy now and in the frame of mind to win another championship.

This year’s Senior PGA Championship takes place at the Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis, MO.

Though Tom Watson is 63 now, he’s not ready to give in easily to age. He compares his attitude to another legendary golfer, Arnold Palmer.

"He still thinks he can do it. He goes out there and may not be able to, but he still thinks he can do it," says Watson.

BasketballElite/Flickr--Creative Commons

The prospects for next season's Kansas Jayhawks' basketball season got a huge boost Tuesday.

Andrew Wiggins, the consensus pick as the nation's top-ranked high school basketball player signed a letter-of-intent to play for KU.

Wiggins is a 6-foot-7 forward who can score. He grew up in Canada, but spent last season at Huntington Prep in West Virginia.

Wiggins chose KU over Kentucky, Florida State and North Carolina.

He announced his decision in a private gathering in West Virginia, one day before the deadline to sign a letter-of-intent this spring.

Chiefs Pick Eric Fisher

Apr 26, 2013
nfl.com

The Kansas City Chiefs made Eric Fisher, an offensive lineman from Central Michigan, the NFL’s first overall selection. 

Four of the top seven picks in the NFL draft were offensive lineman.  As a former lineman, that suits Chiefs coach Andy Reid well. 

Fisher stands 6 feet 7 inches tall, and he’s talking about adding a few pounds to current weight of 306 pounds. 

Reid says Fisher will help the Chiefs.

Greg Echlin / KCUR

In Sprint Cup race at Kansas Speedway on Sunday, Matt Kenseth was the winning driver.  But one of the most popular figures yesterday didn't wear a racing helmet.

Tate Stevens, as an employee of the city of Belton two years ago, attended meetings at Kansas Speedway.  Wearing a cowboy hat Stevens, now 38, appeared at the track as a professional country music performer.

In a life-changing experience, Stevens was the winner last year in season two of "The X Factor," a network television show singing competition. 

Greg Echlin / KCUR

This weekend marks the first of two NASCAR weekends at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas.  In the wake of the deadly explosions at the Boston Marathon on Monday, security measures will be in full-effect at the speedway.

Kansas Speedway president Pat Warren says details of security precautions aren't fully disclosed.  However, it will be clear to spectators that coolers and backpacks will be inspected.

courtesy Kansas City Sports Commission

The movie “42” tells a story of baseball Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson, who once played for the Kansas City Monarchs.  He broke the color barrier with his entry into Major League Baseball.  A recent sneak preview of the movie in Kansas City featured an appearance by iconic actor Harrison Ford and a handful of his co-stars.

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