Archive for Thursday, July 5, 2007

Column: Experience at ‘K’ was start of big-time career

July 5, 2007

I've finally started my trek to becoming a big-time sports writer.

Well, maybe not.

However, I did attend a professional sporting event as a member of the media. So, I have moved up the ladder from the fan seats to the press box. I'm just not sure it was as glamorous as I'm making it out to be.

Until Saturday, the most prolific sporting event I have worked at is the annual state track meet. It attracts thousands of fans to watch all six high school classes compete. It's a great event with a mob of people, but it's not very high on an achievement ladder, if there is such a thing.

That all changed Saturday, thanks to Luther "Dummy" Taylor.

He was a deaf major league baseball player in the early 1900s. He was born in Oskaloosa and is buried at the Prairie City Cemetery here in Baldwin City.

He was being honored by the Kansas City Royals Saturday. His connection to Baldwin made for an interesting story about an interesting man.

The idea was tossed to me about going to Kauffman Stadium for the game. I couldn't pass that up, although I almost did because of the weather.

As many of you know, this region was tormented with rain all weekend and several days before that. Before driving up to KC Saturday, I contemplated staying home. I wasn't sure if the game would be rained out or if I really needed the picture I was going to take.

After careful consideration, I filled up the gas tank in my "green machine" car and made the journey to Kauffman. That was a wise choice.

I was able to get field access and click off the photo I wanted before the game. I even shot a few more of the stadium from my view -- 10 feet from home plate.

Nearing the end of my photo shoot, the rain began making another appearance at the stadium. I carefully tucked the camera under my shirt and headed up to my press box seat. Staying dry is one great perk of the press box seats.

One negative of the press box -- no free food. I was hoping for a free meal, but that wasn't the case. Free drinks, peanuts and chips were available. Yeah, like that's going to fill you up before you get sick.

I took my place in my leather, rolling chair ready to watch the game, with nothing else to do, but enjoy the view. As soon as the game began, I should have known it wasn't going to be a good night for KC.

The Royals pitcher started the game by hurling six straight balls. Luckily the White Sox only scored one run. The next several innings were fairly boring, unless you love watching people make fools of themselves on the jumbotron.

The first laugh of the night came during the first inning. There was a highlight montage of former Royal Mike McFarlane. Thought it could be good, until "Rhinestone Cowboy" accompanied the clips. It was only the beginning of the laughter.

A couple of innings were filled with trivia questions to audience members, which I knew would happen. But how can you not laugh at one guy who is dancing next to his friend as he answers the question. It wasn't good dancing, either. I'm just not sure how many "cold ones" he drank before dancing. My guess is quite a few.

Of course, there was the kiss cam (dorky but cute when the elderly couple participates), favorite song (only good song won the contest) and, my personal favorite, the Hot Dog Derby.

It's more like the condiment derby. The ketchup, mustard and relish race on jumbotron. They race around the bases and everyone cheers like they just won the lottery when it's over.

I have to admit, I picked the winner, ketchup. I know the race is corny and goofy, but it does help keep the atmosphere light and enjoyable.

However, there was one thing I did hear that worried me. I overheard a conversation that happened five feet from me. Two writers were discussing the end of the world according to the Mayan calendar.

In case you wondered it's Dec. 21, 2012. Don't believe me, google it. I'm not sure I'm a believer just yet, but the calendar is more than 5,000 years old. One writer had a good quote when they were discussing the Armageddon.

"I hope it's going to be quick if it happens. Well, if it's all in one day, I guess it will be quick."

In a grim way, that conversation was the most memorable event from the night. The Royals lost 3-1 in 10 innings. It was a good game, but not much offense either way.

As I drove home, I pondered about what I might do differently if this chance ever arose again. For starters, I would dress a little more professionally. The shorts and t-shirt probably didn't look too good. Whoops. I would also bring my laptop, so I could have fun on the Internet and look like I was professional. The final adjustment would be to eat before I get to the game, since I don't get free food.

I did enjoy my day in the life of a big-time sports writer. I'm not sure it will change anything or where it will take me one day, but I am on my way up.

Sorry Baldwin City.

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