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Negro Leagues Baseball Museum
Kauffman Stadium
Kansas City, MO
Minnesota Twins at Kansas City Royals
July 17, 2003

By Ken Schlapp

Our Odyssey continued with an early rising for a 9 hour drive from Florence, Kentucky to Kansas City, Missouri (not Kansas for all you confused geographers, Kansas City Kansas is a whole 15 minute drive across the state line!).  Our plan was to go right to the game, but since we made good time driving, we went right to the Negro Leagues Museum instead of doing so the following morning.  And to our surprise after traveling with Paul for three strait days, we don't hate each other yet.

The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is located on 1616 East 18th Street in Kansas City Missouri and is open from 9 AM to 6 PM Monday.  The museum is in conjunction with the Jazz Museum and there is a $6 entrance fee for either museum or a discounted rate (I believe the combined rate is $10) for the two museums combined.  Based on time we only went through the Baseball Museum. I only wish that we got to the museum 2 minutes earlier, because as I was buying our tickets for the museum I asked the cashier if Buck O'Neil is around often, she just pointed to where he was walking out the door to go home.  She said that he is always happy to talk to fans, but I didn't want to stop him from getting home.  For those of you who do not know who Buck O'Neil is, he was a star player for teams such as the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro Leagues.  In addition, he was the first Afro-American coach in the Major Leagues and very influential in making sure that this museum exists to remember the traditions of Black Baseball.  He is also most remembered for his colorful interviews in Ken Burns Baseball documentary.

As far as the museum is concerned, it's an absolute must if you visit the Kansas City area.  This is the best place to soak up information on the Negro Leagues and it's players.  As you walk through the museum you follow a path that leads you through a chronology of Black Baseball from the 1800s to the present; from the first Afro-American to play Major League Baseball, Moses Fleetwood Walker, to Jackie Robinson and beyond.  Note that Jackie Robinson was the first Afro-American to play Major League Baseball in the 20th century, but not the first to play Major League Baseball.  They show two movies describing the History of the Negro Leagues and of Afro-Americans in baseball.  They also have a locker designated for each of the Negro League players that have made it to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.  However, my favorite part of the museum was the replica field with statues of the best Negro League players at every position, such as Satchel Paige on the mound, Josh Gibson behind the plate and Cool Papa Bell in the Outfield.

One thing that stood out to me during our entire visit was how friendly and helpful the staff at the museum was.  The museum shop is also worth walking through because you can buy all sorts of souvenir memorabilia from the Negro Leagues, such as replica Kansas City Monarchs jersey's, caps, and books about the Negro Leagues (of which I bought two).

Our "Royal" treatment out Kauffman Stadium started out with great seats on the field level right behind home plate (compliments of the Royals).  We couldn't have asked for better seats to see the game.  Technically, the only better seats are the "Crown" seats that cost $140 per game (for season ticket holders only) and the price includes all the food and drink you want. Other than those seats, the Royals offer the lowest average ticket prices of all the Major League teams.  For instance, our seats would have cost us $21 (not season ticket price), but in any other stadium, these seats would have been much more expensive.

The night was also a good one for the Royals as they defeated the Twins by a score of 14-6, with the main highlight being the Royals 12-run outburst in the 6th inning, which was the biggest inning in team history.  The Royals were trailing 3-1 going into the bottom of the 6th, but they put together 9 hits, 2 walks, and 2 HBPs to have their historic inning.  The inning even got a little interesting when after a ton of runs had already scored; Aaron Guiel was hit by a pitch by JC Romero who was immediately tossed from the game for an intentional HBP.  Ron Gardenhire (the Twins Manager) rushed out in defense of his player and was tossed as well.  The funniest part about this is that it was clear as day from where I was sitting that Guiel was hit with a curveball and Romero shouldn't have been tossed!  Personally, I think they need to do away with all of this warning the pitcher stuff and go back to letting the players police themselves and be responsible for their actions, not to mention letting the pitchers throw to the inside of the plate.  But I guess that is pretty difficult to do in the American League where the pitcher can hide behind the DH.

The biggest contributor during the game was Designated Hitter Ken Harvey, who went 4-5 with 3 doubles and 5 RBI.  Ibanez also had 3 hits and two RBI. Although Kris Wilson came in and gave up two runs in his one inning of work, he came in just in time to benefit from the 12-run 6th to pick up the victory.  No surprise to me that Kenny Rogers was the goat giving up 7 runs in 5 innings.  I can't help but cringe every time I hear his name or see him because of the way he choked under pressure and walked in the winning run of the 1999 NL Championship series against the Braves to knock the Mets out of the playoffs.

I'm beginning to pick up a Midwest trend with Kiss Cam showing up at this game as well as in Cincinnati.  You know the cutesy thing where the jumbotron highlights two fans that are sitting next to each other to entice them to kiss.  It can be funny when the two people they highlight don't even know each other.  Aside from that, the Royals do have an organ player in place of loud obnoxious music to maintain that good old baseball feeling at the stadium.  Note that the biggest perk to the fans came from the Royals play because they amassed more than 12 hits, which means that you can turn in your ticket for a dozen donuts at Krispy Crème Donuts.  This may have been the biggest cheer that I heard from the crowd this night.  Overall, there is no denying that the fans were rooting for the Royals, which just happen to be the surprise team of 2003.  The slogan for the Royals is "Believe", in which the relatively young team appears to be doing as they are playing exciting baseball and making their fans happy. Tonight's win brought them to within two games of the first place Twins.

I wrote about the game first in this article because we had our real "Royal" treatment the day after the game.  We had an appointment with Morrie Carlson (the man in charge of Kauffman Stadium tours) on the morning of June 18th. He has to be one of the nicest men I've ever met, and it was obvious that he takes pride in the Royals and his staff's ability to both inform and entertain all the fans that come to take a tour of the stadium.  He guaranteed us that the treatment would be the same whether or not he was conducting the tour himself and whether or not someone in the audience was going to write about the tour.

We were on the regular tour with other fans (although we didn't have to pay), which made it more fun because we were able to interact with others as well.  While on the tour you get to learn things like the jumbotron is the second largest in the world, and that the fountains in the outfield do represent the largest fountains in the world.  The fountains come on after the Royals hit a home run, but once again, the home team did not hit a homer during the game so we didn't get to see it live!  Morrie took us to see the Royals Hall of Fame, which is located on the Plaza level behind section 107, where you can see their 1985 Championship trophy, and the members of the hall.  You know that George Brett guy is there, plus McRae, Quisenbury and others.  You also get to see some things during the tour that you would not during a game; You get to sit in the dugout, visit the press box and interview room, see the batting cages where the players workout before during and after the games.  Interestingly enough, the players find the "tee" to be the most useful tool to practice their swing.  He also took us down to see the underground tunnel that leads to Arrowhead stadium (where the Cheifs play football) and informed us that the tunnels can hold about 40,000 people safely in case of a tornado.

Overall, even if you don't get to see a game at Kauffman Stadium, you should take the tour and walk around.  You can even get a nice view of the stadium from above on the highways and roads that lead to the stadium from the top of a hill.  It's just a beautiful stadium.  It will be worth your time, even if to only talk to some extremely nice and helpful people!  They even pointed out to us that we need to try some BBQ food since we were in Kansas City.  So, of coarse, we obliged by going to "Gates", which is a local chain that is famous for good food and yelling, "May I help you" as soon as you walk in the door.  Although it's not quite clear what they are saying, but you get the picture.

Finally, we went to go see the site of Municipal Stadium on 22nd Street and Brooklyn Avenue in Kansas City (not too far from the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum).  This is the Stadium that the Negro League Kansas City Monarchs, the Minor League Blues, and from 1955-1967, the Kansas City A's (now playing in Oakland) called home.  The Royals also played there until Kauffman Stadium opened in 1973.  The Stadium is gone now, but there is a plaque on the corner commemorating the old stadium, while construction is going on in the lot behind the plaque.

Bottom line - go visit Kansas City to see a beautiful stadium, a great museum, and even a pretty good young baseball team!

Basic trip facts:
* Stadium # 4
* Old Stadium Sites visited - Municipal Stadium (Total - 1)
* Miles traveled - 632 via Car (Totals: Driving - 1,651, Subway - 20, Air - 3,196, Total - 4,867)
* States, provinces and/or commonwealths passed through - Kentucky, Indiana, Missouri and Kansas  (Totals: States - 11, Provinces - 0, Commonwealths - 1)
* Seats - Section 102, Row L, Seat 5 - Field level right behind home plate
* Prices: Parking - $6, Beer - $5.50, Bratwurst - $5.50, Program (including pencil) - $5.00, Souvenir Soda Cup - $3.50
* Credit Card giveaway - Royals T-shirt
* First Pitch -  7:10 PM
* Attendance - 16,359
* Results - Royals 14, Twins 6,  W - Kris Wilson:, L - Kenny Rogers: S - None:
* Home team record to date - 5 wins, 1 loss
* Record of "team I was routing for" to date - 1 wins, 5 losses
* Lodging - Overland Park, Kansas

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