baseball

Baseball Stadiums: Kauffman Stadium

Seven-plus years after my first visit to Ewing M. Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., I returned for my second game and first opportunity to write about my visit to the ballpark.  In 2008, I attended an end-of-season game between the White Sox and Royals just as the stadium started to undergo major renovations.  Due to the renovations and the fact that I hadn’t begun blogging about my stadium visits yet, this trip was my first opportunity to write about Kauffman Stadium.

Usually when I write about baseball early in the season it involves me attending the AAG Annual Meeting, but that was not the case here.  I attended the conference, which was in San Francisco, but did not get to any of the exhibition games hosted in the Bay Area while I was there.  Instead, my first MLB game of the season was a Royals game in tandem with an invited lecture at Missouri Western State University (read about it here).

So after my presentation and lunch in St. Joseph, the friend who invited me to give the presentation and I booked it down to Kansas City to watch early-bird batting practice.  While many fans had not even made it to the stadium or were setting up their grills in the parking lot, we got to enter the stadium and watch batting practice with a few less people in the stands.

After scurrying around the stadium to arrive at Gate A, which is the only gate you can enter through if you have early-bird ticket.  Once we got inside, we made our way down to the first base line and watched as the Royals took BP.  While I don’t typically take photos during batting practice, I felt it was appropriate to include them here.

Royals players during batting practice.
A coach throwing BP.

Once all the gates were opened, we explored the outfield and I got to take in the statues honoring the three Royals who have their numbers retired along with another notable duo.

Manager Dick Howser (1981-86) was inducted into the Royals’ Hall of Fame in 1987,
and led the franchise to its first World Series victory in 1985.
Third baseman George Brett (1973-93) was inducted into the Royals Hall of Fame in 1994,
and into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999.
Second baseman Frank White (1973-90) was inducted into the Royals Hall of Fame in 1995.
Owner Ewing and his wife Muriel Kauffman were inducted into the Royals Hall of Fame in 1993 and 1996, respectively.

Usually before a game, I take some photos of the stadium exterior, but because my friend and I arrived later than expected at the stadium I did not get too take many photos before entering to watch early batting practice.  So shortly after the game got underway I explored the exterior of the stadium and snapped a few pictures of the exterior.

Outside the main ticket windows before sunset.
Main ticket office just after sunset.
Back of the dugout concourse.

Back inside the stadium before the game my friend and I explored the outfield amenities and saw the newest addition to Kauffman Stadium…

On the back of the regal jumbotron the Royals added some text to celebrate their second World Series championship.

In right field though is one of the key additions the Royals added to the stadium during the renovations they started in 2008: a Hall of Fame.

Outside the Royals Hall of Fame.
Inside the Royals Hall of Fame fans are met by a display detailing the history of baseball in Kansas City along with mock lockers featuring jerseys of the Royals’ three retired numbers: George Brett, Dick Howser, and Frank White.
Me with the Royals’ Statue of Liberty that was part of the 2008 All-Star Game festivities,
which was hosted by Yankee Stadium.

There is a lot of memorabilia detailing baseball in Kansas City, but the Hall of Fame filled up pretty quickly once the gates opened.  So I opted to be super selective about the photos I took.  I also opted to skip the line and not have my photo taken with the 2015 World Series trophy.  I can’t dismiss the significance of getting a photo taken with a World Series trophy, but as I do not identify as a Royals fan it did not seem worth waiting in line.  So while preparing to exit the Hall of Fame, I took a picture of the one thing that is especially unique to the museum.

Plaques honoring the members of the Royals Hall of Fame.

After touring the Royals Hall of Fame, we headed checked out some of the food options around the stadium, but ultimately ended up having a beer in Craft & Draft.  As someone who loves craft beer, I had a difficult time deciding what to drink, but opted for Boulevard Brewing’s Crown Town Ale.  Boulevard is a well-known craft brewery with a wide distribution, so I debated against having something from them, but the Crown Town Ale is a special release which cinched the decision for me.

Following a beer, we opted to visit the Andrew Zimmern’s Canteen Links, which is located by Gate D near the first base entrance to the stadium.

Andrew Zimmern’s Canteen Links concession stand.

So after getting a Canteen Dog, which is an all-beef hot dog with cabbage slaw, roasted vegetable mayo, grain mustard, and topped with pickled jalapenos, we headed for our seats in the upper deck behind home plate to watch the game.

Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Chris Young delivering the first pitch to Baltimore Orioles left fielder Joey Rickard.

With the game under way I decided it was time to chow down on my Canteen Dog and snap the standard food photo.

The Canteen Dog is served with cooked chips.

The Canteen Dog was delicious, and the kettle-cooked chips were good.  I would definitely get it again, even though it doesn’t meet my usual standard of eating unique food that reflects the local cuisine.

After finishing my food, I took advantage of my seat on the Hy-Vee Level and captured some scenes from around the ballpark.

View of left field, which features the Royals Hall of Fame.
View of right field, which features the famed fountains.
A closeup of  the fountains.

I also got a shot of the Hot Dog Derby, which features a race between ketchup, mustard, and relish.

The condiments making their way toward home.

I didn’t get many action photos while the Royals were putting up three runs in the first because I was busy eating the Canteen Dog, but I did get some late-inning action.

Baltimore relief pitcher T.J. McFarland getting ready at the beginning of the fourth inning.
Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas facing Oriole reliever T.J. McFarland in the bottom of the fifth inning.
The Royals dugout in the fifth inning.

One of the coolest things about getting to watch the Royals play at home on a Friday was the special jerseys the players wore, which have gold numbers to celebrate the team’s 2015 World Series victory.  And because the Royals were leading by two, I got to watch their closer take the mound.

Royals relief pitcher Wade Davis on to pitch the ninth.

After three easy outs, the Royals clinched the 4-2 win, which led to the usual post-game celebration by the players, mascot, and concluded in hanging the “W” in the outfield.

Players celebrating with the traditional post-game high fives.
Sluggerrr waving the flag after the 4-2 win.
Hanging the “W” after the game.

A big problem when you arrive later than planned and rush into a stadium is that you don’t always pay close attention to where you parked.  Unfortunately, my friend and I did not pay as close attention to our parking location as we thought, so we left later than expected.  Regardless of our extracurricular wandering, I had a great experience at Kauffman Stadium.

I could definitely tell the difference from my initial visit in 2008 to this visit.  While the structure was unchanged, the renovations definitely provide fans with a lot more amenities.  As a a beer drinker, I thoroughly enjoyed Craft & Draft and encourage beer AND spirit drinkers to check it out.  The Hall of Fame does an excellent job of preserving and presenting Kansas City’s baseball history, and not just the Royals’ time in town.  The food and beer choices throughout the stadium are diverse, but could use some more local flavor.

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