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Published by Jarod Clarke

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Published by: Jarod Clarke on Jul 20, 2010
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A dream come true for this baseball fan
By Jarod Clarke
Reporter – Chariton Valley News Press – June 23, 2009
It has always been a childhood dream of mine to stand on a Major League Baseball field with the greatplayers of the game. On Friday, June 19, that dream became a reality.It was a perfect night for baseball at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City as the Royals and St. LouisCardinals started warm-up drills on the field around 5 p.m. in preparation for the opening game of the I-70 Series.I arrived at the ballpark promptly at 4 p.m. so I could get my media credentials for access to the field tointerview players and take photos. When I drove into the parking lot, I immediately felt like a big-timereporter, because pulling up next to my car was the KMBC-TV Channel 9 broadcasting van with localsports anchor Karen Kornacki and her crew.Fans dressed in their Royal blue and Cardinal red had already started tailgating, and you could sensesome tension in the air between the two clubs as fans yelled back and forth about whose team was better.I made my way to the stadium box office and walked through large plate glass doors into the mediacredentials pickup area. Once I received my lanyard with my name spelled incorrectly on it, I headeddown a spacious hallway and through another pair of glass doors leading into the Royals Stadium Club,which is a new addition to the stadium.I made my way to the sixth floor where the press box is located. I had no idea where I was going. And Ientered the press box only to find that the players were already on the field where I needed to be to getmy interviews.Carrying my camera equipment and notebook, I made it down to field level and walked down a series of cinder block tunnels that led me to an opening where I could start to see the field. I walked up a smallflight of stairs and there I was, on the field next to the Royals’ dugout.It was time for me to do what I came to accomplish and find out what the I-70 series means to both teams.The Royals were on the field stretching and getting ready for batting practice. It was a lot to take in, and Ididn’t know where to begin.Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Royals center fielder David DeJesus sitting in the dugout chatting withan assistant coach. I didn’t know if I was allowed to walk into the dugout, so I asked another person fromthe media if I could. It ended up being one of my teachers’ co-workers from The Kansas City Star that Iapproached, and he said it was all right.I walked down the dugout stairs and over to DeJesus. I had a hard time getting the words out at first, butI got his attention and asked him about the importance of the series to the teams.“It means a lot because we are both in the same state,” DeJesus said. “It’s bigger for the fans than us because we want to win every game. It’s the fans’ team pride more than anything, but forthe players we are going to go out there and treat it like another game and try to win.”
It was clear that both teams know the significance of the series, but they believe the fans make it what itis. I talked with Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa about the rivalry when his team took the field for batting practice.“Well it’s a natural rivalry; we’re both in Missouri and the teams played each other back in the ’85 WorldSeries, but what makes a rivalry sometimes isn’t the teams, it’s the fans,” LaRusa said. “I really think boththe Cardinals fans and Royals fans want shouting rights, so this is a big weekend.”With players who were only kids when the Royals and Cardinals matched up in the World Series in 1985,not many of them knew much of the history between the teams. I was lucky enough to talk with RoyalsHall of Famer second baseman Frank White, who played in the ’85 Series.“I think they know about it,” White said. “It’s not always talked about, but it’s like anything else. If youweren’t physically involved, then you’re not going to feel about it like the guys who actually were. It’s apride thing than anything else. You’re a Royal, you’re a Cardinal and you’re from the same state, so youwant to win.”Talking to the legendary Frank White was definitely the highlight of the night for me, and he gave meadvice on how to interview players and get good answers, which helped me greatly in my interviewslater that night.After talking with White, I spoke with Royals center fielder Coco Crisp, who was drafted in 1999 by theCardinals and is a new member of the Royals this season. He didn’t know much about the rivalry buttalked about why he enjoys playing the Cardinals.“I still have a lot of boys that are over there,” Crisp Said. “Chris Duncan is an outfielder over there andI’m an outfielder over here and we got signed in ’99 and both played the right side of the infield, so it’salways fun for us to kind of clown around about. It’s good to play a team that you’ve previously playedfor and do well against and beat them collectively as a team. It makes you feel good. What was nice about being able to play in this series earlier this year was that I had a chance to play at the Cardinals’ stadiumfor the first time in my career.”Cardinals pitcher Todd Wellemeyer, who was a relief pitcher for the Royals before moving to St. Louis in2008, also talked about the rivalry.“This is the second big rivalry I’ve been a part of,” Wellemeyer said. “I was a part of Cubs, White Soxrivalry for three years. That seemed like a little bit of a bigger rivalry because it is in the same city, but Iknow Missouri loves their baseball and I don’t know the history as much as I’d like to, but they alwayshave good turnouts here and in St. Louis.”After my interviews it was time for the game. I took my position with my cameras to the photo bay nextto the Royals dugout and watched as the Cardinals easily started pounding the ball against Royalsstarting pitcher Kyle Davies, scoring two runs in the first inning.A glimmer of hope for the Royals’ offence came in the bottom of the inning, with a solo home run byDavid DeJesus, getting the Royals faithful on their feet in the sold-out stadium. The sight of the home runfrom my view was much different from the upper deck seats that I am used to, and the ball seemed tomove twice as fast as it went over the outfield wall.

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