Midwest Roadtrip Part 2: Kauffman Stadium

The road called to me, and just like that I was on the highway, with the Rocky Mountains in the rear-view mirror. Driving into Kansas is interesting, in the sense that you leave Colorado, and almost immediately, there’s vast, open plains. The drive from Denver to Kansas City was going to take a little over 8 hours, and with an hour lost to the timezone change, there was enough time to get there before first pitch, but not a whole lot of wiggle room. The drive itself was straight-forward, very peaceful. Felt like I must have passed a dozen different towns mentioning that they were home to one astronaut or another. Seemed very random, but hey, something to be proud of. By the time we hit Missouri, traffic picked up a bit, but we still made it to KC with decent time to spare. A quick change into my Bo Jackson Royals jersey that I bought years ago for this very moment, and we made the walk from the hotel to Kauffman Stadium, just getting to our seats in time for first pitch.

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Kauffman Stadium is a park that I’ve wanted to visit for a number of years, and it did not disappoint. Since we got there so close I decided to leave my exploration to the next day and just enjoy a cool evening at the ballpark. The sight-lines from the top level allowed me to see everything, and Crown Vision was as great as I had expected.

A big highlight for me was the Brisket. I picked up both the Brisket Fries and the Brisket Mac and Cheese for Ma and I and both were incredible. Yes, Kansas City is known for their BBQ (more on that later) so there was no way that I couldn’t partake in at least a couple spots.

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For the game itself, the Royals, and their gold unis, were hosting the Baltimore Orioles, fresh off of what would eventually be an interleague split with my Washington Nationals. The Royals were just starting to put things together, after a horrible start to the season, while the Orioles were cooling off a bit. While Eric Hosmer drove in the go-ahead run in the bottom of the 8th, the big blast had to be Brandon Moss and his home run to the fountains in the 5th. Naturally a fan jumped in after it, making me wonder if he got tossed out or not.

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Promo wise, I was pleased with the Royals in-game entertainment, especially having a t-shirt toss going on in the higher sections. I managed to make eye contact with one of the tossers, and snagged a great “Raised Royal” shirt. Probably a little biased, but while their hot dog race was fine enough, I have to admit I prefer the costumes in Cleveland’s race better. And of course the Friday Night Fireworks display was a great end to a fun night at the ballpark.

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As we were in town for two games, we had a little time to explore KC a little more on Saturday. Did a little shopping, found the giant bookshelf and shuttlecock, leaving only one logical option left: BBQ. But where to go? Thankfully, I looked up Man vs. Food locations featured in the area and went with the one and only, Joe’s. The lineup was around the corner, and it literally took us an hour to get inside with another half hour to get to order, but my God it was worth it. The Ribs, the chicken, the burnt tips. So amazing and I would line up again in a second. Or be smart and call ahead. Either way, so good!

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We arrived early at the K for Saturday’s game, largely in part to the Danny Duffy bobblehead giveaway, commemorating his amazing strikeout performance against the Rays last season. We took our time in the fountain area, enjoying the view, and made our way to the rest of the outfield area.

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The renovations a few years back have turned a hidden gem of a ballpark, into a timeless classic, with something for everyone to enjoy. Lots of picnic space for family time before the game, mini-golf and the “Little K” for the youngsters, and lots of statues, including Mr Royal himself, George Brett.

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As we were there much earlier than probably needed to get the bobblehead, I was pleased that we could spend time (for free) at the Royals Hall of Fame. An amazing museum with artifacts, movies, and some serious hardware, including World Series and Cy Young trophies.

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As we were full of amazing BBQ, I limited my intake to just an ice cream helmet, cause there was just no way that I could leave KC without one. Mint chocolate chip is quickly becoming my go-to hard ice cream flavor. The local legends at Belfonte Ice Cream continue to serve some of the best ice cream in Missouri.

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As it was Mother’s Day weekend, both teams were rocking the pink unis, which still takes some getting used to. Either way, Brandon Moss homered for the second straight night, and the Royals held off the Orioles 4-3. Best of all, I got to witness my first Salvy Splash after the game.

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Kauffman Stadium remains the only ballpark built in the 70s that remains in MLB use today. It was one of those places that I knew I would enjoy, but that doesn’t really describe it properly. This place is amazing. Wonderful sight-lines, friendly people, and such a unique look; I can only imagine what it must be like to see games there on a regular basis, let alone what it was like in back to back World Series’. If you are ever in the area, I can’t recommend it enough.

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For me though, I had just one destination to go, St Louis!

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