“Play ball!” rings out across North America this week, as Major League Baseball kicks off its 147th season. Will this be the year we get another “I-70 Series” in Missouri? Or a “Subway Series” in New York? Maybe, we finally get an “I-5 Series” in Los Angeles. Regardless of where the Fall Classic ends up, 30 teams think they have a shot at making it to the postseason.
The Kansas City Royals enter the 2016 season as the defending champions for the first time in three decades. Having won the World Series in 1985, the Boys in Blue went “Back to the Future” and claimed the World Series trophy again in 2015, dominating the New York Mets in five games.
But, all teams start 0-0 today. That means the Colorado Rockies have the same shot as making the playoffs as the New York Yankees.
We primarily follow three teams in our household – Minnesota Twins, Kansas City Royals and the St. Louis Cardinals. The twins and Royals are in the same division in the American League, so we are a split household at times – Lisa likes the Royals and I am a Twins fan. However, we both want each team to do well.
The Cardinals are our National League team. Overall, we like to check out the baseball teams and stadiums of the cities we visit. Since we do travel the Midwest frequently, we try to be impartial.
The Royals have a nice Hall of Fame and museum at Kaufman Stadium. The team celebrates its history well, as well as recognizes its minor league teams. Omaha is the top farm club for Kansas City, so we’ve seen a bulk of the players on the current roster.
George Brett’s 3,000 career hits are immortalized in the shape of his jersey number – 5. If you count the balls in the display, there are 3,000.
Kansas City celebrates its Gold Glove winners, led by the great Frank White’s eight gloves. Alex Gordon (a former Husker) has four Gold Gloves for the current Royals.
Kaufmann Stadium honors the late field manager Dick Howser, who led Kansas City to its 1985 championship. He was well-loved and respected in the area, as well as all of baseball.
Across the state, St. Louis can’t honor Stan Musial enough. His statue greets visitors to Busch Stadium. His number hangs from surrounding buildings. The state even named a new bridge after him.
The team’s Hall of fame and museum at Ballpark Village (across the street from the stadium) has a couple of sections devoted to his playing days and his civic accomplishments.
Bob Gibson is perhaps the greatest pitcher of all time. The Omaha native pitched his entire major league career for the Cardinals, winning the Cy Young Award a couple of times.
The Omaha Storm Chasers even recognize the great pitcher he was with a statue outside its Triple-A ball park in suburban Sarpy County.
The Cardinals honor their greatest players with statues on a plaza near the stadium. Ozzie Smith, Enos Slaughter, Lou Brock, “Dizzy” Dean and Gibson lead the way of Cardinal greats on the plaza.
The Hall of Fame and museum at Ballpark Village is located on the second floor of Cardinals Nation restaurant. The food is great and the décor is impressive.
Heading north to the Twin Cities, six-year-old Target Field still has that new stadium feel to it. The outdoor stadium allowed the Twins to move from the Metrodome to their own downtown park.
The team recognizes its history with some of the field décor, as well as inside the stadium’s concourse. Twins greats, such as Kirby Puckett and Harmon Killebrew are honored with some really sections on their careers.
Minnesota honors former players (and a current one – Joe Mauer) and owners with statues along its plaza. There are even “Peanuts” characters dressed in twins gear. Cartoonist Charles Schultz was a St. Paul native.
The Twins challenged for a playoff berth in 2015, so here’s hoping we get to see a KC and Minnesota tandem in the playoffs.
So, as the 2016 season gets underway, all fans can think of the glory of their team winning the World Series in late October. However, by the end of April those dreams will probably be gone for all but a handful of teams. That’s the way ball bounces with sports. But, if our trio of the Twins, Cards and Royals battle for a spot in the playoffs, we’ll be happy to enjoy the ride.
Get a hot dog and maybe some Cracker Jacks. And let’s root, root, root for the home team.