baseball

Greg Echlin / KCUR

Before most of the Royals’ players and coaches reported for spring training, the graphers were there. Waiting.

What’s a grapher? The term is short for “autographer,” someone who devotes him- or herself to collecting player’s autographs.

“We go to the ballparks, team hotels, and some of us who are more extreme go to spring training and travel to the All Star games," said Ethan Roth, who acquires and sells baseball autographs for a living. "It’s basically the art of getting an autograph without paying for it."

Ernie Banks, one of baseball’s all-time greats as a player and as a person off the diamond, died Friday. He was 83.

His sunny disposition and skills on the field took off when his professional baseball career began with the Negro Leagues in Kansas City. Cool Papa Bell, another former Negro Leagues player and a Baseball Hall of Famer, tipped off Kansas City Monarchs manager Buck O’Neil on the raw abilities of Ernie Banks.

At the time O’Neil, who died in 2006, had not seen Banks play.

Bill Anderson / KCUR

When Up To Date host Steve Kraske was joined in studio by Billy Collins, he wasn't expecting the former U.S. Poet Laureate to have scribed a few lines a la Casey at the Bat as he waited in the green room.

But, impressed by the Royals and their fans, Collins offered this tribute.

Beth Lipoff/Eliza Spertus / KCUR

On the eve of the 2014 World Series, Up to Date broadcasts live from Kauffman Stadium, the "center of the sports universe."

During the hour we look at the team's chances in this year's series, what makes the Royals comeback so fascinating, how the staff of the Royals and Kauffman Stadium are preparing for packed houses and an onslaught of world media, and some new additions to the Royals Hall of Fame.

Guests:

Cody Newill / KCUR

By now, reality has sunk in for most of the Kansas City area.

The team with one of the most dramatic underdog stories in recent baseball history clinched a spot in the World Series Wednesday, when the Royals defeated the Baltimore Orioles, 2-1.  

From crying fans to a photo of a flabbergasted George Brett, here’s a look at how Kansas City tweeted the historic victory.

Kathleen Kunkler / KCUR

Sweeping away 29 years of heartbreak and bringing home an American League pennant to a rejoicing city, the Kansas City Royals clinched a trip Wednesday to the World Series.

Final score after a fast fall game under clear royal blue skies: Kansas City 2, Baltimore 1.

Screaming fans at Kauffman Stadium, on their feet for the ninth inning, counted down the outs until their beloved Royals were in the series.

"Three. More. Outs ... Two ... Strike out! ... One. More. Out ... Sweep! Sweep!"

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

For the first time since 1985, the Royals have made the playoffs, finally putting an end to the longest post-season drought in professional baseball history. How are fans and city officials adjusting to the possibility of winning?

Guests:

  • Greg Echlin, freelance sports reporter, KCUR
  • Mark McHenry, Kansas City Parks and Recreation

Bob Motley, a 91-year-old from Kansas City, Mo., has lived through remarkable times in our history.

His story is one of a black man in love with baseball. Racial integration didn't come to the major leagues until 1947, when Jackie Robinson broke the color line at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

But it was another 19 years before a black man, Emmett Ashford, appeared behind home plate. In the interim, black umpires called balls and strikes in the Negro League.

Valerie / Flickr--CC

After stagnating for a month in the American League Central standings, the Royals have taken off in the last two weeks. But when the last homestand concluded with two of the Royals’ most traditional draws, their attendance didn’t take off as they hoped.

New York Yankee fan Mo Moffitt, recently moved to Shawnee, Kan., from The Bronx, found a way to attend a Yankees game in Kansas City.

“If you’re a diehard to your team, you’ll show up,” said Moffitt a Royals home game.

But plenty of diehard fans during the most recent homestand did not.

Macmillan Publishers

There are secret rules and pieces of wisdom that most baseball fans don't even know exist. For example, don't ever look an umpire in the eye when you're arguing with him. 

On Thursday's Up to Date, Steve Kraske sits down with former Royal and All-Star catcher Jason Kendall and sportswriter Lee Judge to discuss Kendall's new memoir of baseball wisdom, Throwback

Guests:

Leaders of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kan., have announced plans to purchase and renovate Community America Ballpark – the home of the T-Bones – for $8 million. It would join a growing list of publicly subsidized sports venues. It's good news for baseball fans and  for the Village West shopping and entertainment area – but how should taxpayers feel?  Host Brian Ellison discusses the pros and cons behind the decision with two of the decision-makers behind the proposed purchase. Guests:

From the highs of professional baseball and even the World Series to the lows of drug addiction and bankruptcy, former Royals player Willie Wilson has had quite the journey.

Wikipedia Commons

This week the 2013 Little League World Series has bought teams from across the world to Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The championship game will be played on Sunday.

In this month’s “A Fan’s Notes”, commentator Victor Wishna tells us what Major League players could learn from their Little League compadres.

Royals In The Play-offs?

Aug 22, 2013
Wikimedia Commons - CC

It's nearly September, and the Royals have won more games than they've lost. This might seem like a minor achievement, but here in Kansas City, this is a huge deal. We haven't had a winning season since 2003 and before that, 1994.  An entire generation of baseball fans have not seen the Royals do well. To put this into perspective, Eric Hosmer, the Royals' first baseman is 23 years old. He was born in 1989, a full 4 years after the Royals last made the play-offs (and went on to win the World Series).

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.

Zack Lewandowski

Mexican-American fast-pitch softball is a tradition that runs deep in Kansas and Missouri. For decades, families have passed on the tradition of playing baseball or softball, but the legacy has been poorly documented.

The game was originally introduced to Mexican immigrants in Kansas and Missouri in an attempt to shed them of their cultural identity. But, that didn’t happen. The sport did nothing but help define and unite a new community. 

The experience

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.

Beth Lipoff/KCUR

With a record number of spring training games won, the Royals started the regular season in Chicago last week with two losses and a win.

Flickr user midtownkcpost.com

The All-Star game is over.  The National League has the home field advantage in the World Series and the New York Mets host the 2013 All-Star game. 

Keith Allison / Flickr-CC

There was a sense of “Finally!” when Billy Butler of the Kansas City Royals was named for the first time to the American League All-Star team.  

All Star Game
Chris Prewitt / KCUR

While the managers of the American and National Leagues announced their starting lineups on Monday for tomorrow night's All-Star game at Kauffman Stadium, both acknowledged their links to Kansas City.

At Kauffman Stadium on Sunday, baseball fans got a mix of the young and the old on the diamond. In the Futures game that featured top minor league prospects, the USA team pounded the World team, 17-5.  

For Monday night's Home Run Derby at Kauffman Stadium, there is certain to be some tape measure jobs.  

Susan B. Wilson / KCUR

Five-time all-star Frank White always thought he would finish his baseball career at the Royals.  He was the hometown guy who played second base with the team for 18 seasons, starting in 1973. 

Baseball’s Willie Mays Aikens has done a lot of living in his 57 years.  He’s now a hitting instructor for the Kansas City Royals, something he knows a thing or two about: he was the first major leaguer in history to hit two home runs in a game twice in the same series.

The marketing catch phrase for the Kansas City Royals this year has been, "This is our time."  But after a disastrous homestand, the Royals ad campaign has backfired.

It’s time for peanuts, cracker jacks and rooting for the home team ... so we’re heading out to the ballgame!

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Image courtesy of the book "Matzo Balls & Baseballs" by Dave Cohen

Tonight, once again, families throughout Kansas City will gather together and reflect on a simple question: “Why is this night different?”

The final dance of this college basketball season is tonight. Fans everywhere are counting on their team to pull off the big win in New Orleans.

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