There are some big Zack Greinke doin’s set for next Friday night at Kauffman Stadium. It’ll center around him accepting his American League Cy Young Award from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
He’s gotten it before – at the writers’ New York dinner last winter – but this time he gets it in front of the hometown folks before a game against the Red Sox.
It’ll all start at 7 p.m. CT on Friday, April 9, so get there early. The Royals’ other Cy Young winners, Bret Saberhagen and David Cone, will participate. So will George Brett, Dennis Leonard and Paul Splittorff.
The Zackster also will get his Players Choice Award as 2009’s best AL pitcher. He’s already designated the cash prize that comes with it from the Players’ Association to the Boys and Girls Club of KC.
And for the fans there’s a “Cy Young Celebration” tee-shirt featuring Greinke, Saberhagen and Cone. The shirts will go to the first 35,000 fans so that should take care of just about everybody. (The joint seats just under 38,000.)
— Dick Kaegel
The Royals have been big supporters of the military and that continues with the launch of the 2010 Royals Caravan next Tuesday at Fort Riley in Kansas.
Hall of Famer George Brett will be joined by his old pal and former catcher Jamie Quirk and the noted “Joker” and ex-third baseman Joe Randa in meeting members of the Combat Aviation Brigade. The unit of more than 2,700 soldiers is preparing to deploy overseas in the nation’s war zone.
They’ll be joined by broadcaster Joel Goldberg for the visit from 11:15 to 12:45 p.m. CT on Tuesday. The group also will visit the Cottonwood Elementary School in Salina, Kan., at 2:15 p.m. and go to that night’s basketball game at Manhattan, Kansas State vs. Texas A&M.
Should be an interesting FanFest with the ’85 World Series boys coming in. Even Buddy Black, busy as the Padres manager, is taking time to join ex-pitching buddies such as Charlie Leibrandt, Bret Saberhagen and Danny Jackson. And Hal McRae will be there with his big smile and famous cackle. . . . We hear the Royals are planning to have an alumni game next summer with the ’85ers squaring off against some of the Cardinals’ alums from the I-70 Series. Wouldn’t it be nice if new Hall of Famer Whitey Herzog could join the fun? . . . Mike Sweeney will be at next Thursday night’s Royals Awards dinner to present the award named for him – which goes to the player who best represents the organization on and off the field. This year’s winner is first baseman Clint Robinson from the Wilmington Blue Rocks. He logged many hours at the community’s schools and camps and the local Children’s Hospital. He also hit .298 with 13 dingers. Sweeney last year was surprised with the Mr. Baseball Award for his long service to Kansas City. . . . Tickets for the dinner, by the way, are on sale at www.royals.com/awardsnight. It’s 75 bucks and gets you a look at Zack Greinke, Billy Butler, Brett, Frank White and many other celebs. It’s at the Overland Park Convention Center.
— Dick Kaegel
Thanks to Curt Nelson, director of the Royals Hall of Fame, for this Cy Young tidbit:
The Royals are the only club to have three of its own draft picks win the award while pitching for their original drafting organization. That’s Zack Greinke, David Cone and Bret Saberhagen.
Going through all the winners since the Young Award began in 1956, Nelson found that the Brooklyn-Los Angeles Dodgers had six winners who called Dem Bums their original Major League club. But the first three (Don Newcombe, Don Drysdale, Sandy Koufax) came along before the draft was instituted in 1965 and Fernando Valenzuela, the 1979 winner, was purchased from the Mexican League. Actually the only Dodgers winner who was drafted was Orel Hershiser because Eric Gagne, the 2003 winner, was a non-drafted free agent.
Anyway, the A’s and Royals each had three winners they signed themselves but the A’s Catfish Hunter pre-dated the draft. So that leaves the Royals with three victorious draftees in Zack, Coney and Sabes. Of course, we must point out that Coney was traded away and then lured back by Mr. Kauffman, who sat down and wrote the pitcher a $1 million check at the Winter Meetings in 1992. Then, the spring after he won the Cy Young in the strike-shortened ’94 season, Coney was sent off to the Blue Jays.
Thanks, Curt, for the info. And if you folks haven’t yet visited the Royals Hall of Fame, it’s open even during the winter, usually from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays (not this coming Saturday, however). Or if you have a large group and want a special tour, call 816-504-4297.
— Dick Kaegel
You’ve got to hand it to Zack Greinke for not being big-headed. He can’t quite believe that folks are going to come to Kauffman Stadium just to see him pitch.
He electrified a sellout crowd last Friday night with a brilliant 6-1 victory over the Tigers, his second straight complete-game victory. He’s leading the league not only with four victories but with that can’t-be-any-better 0.00 ERA and, oh yes, those 36 strikeouts.
He’s still got a string of 43 innings without giving up an earned run, even though that error-caused run scored the other night. He’s got the ability to throw a 98-mph fastball and a 62-mph curve with equally devastating results.
Beyond that, he’s got that boyish grin and good looks, a refreshingly quirky outlook on life, great intelligence and a genuine respect for the fans. And everyone knows how he overcame some personal issues and took a firm grip on his great talent and potential.
All things considered, he could become the first pitcher since the days of Bret Saberhagen or David Cone to be a real box-office draw for the Royals. Last Friday night, it was Fireworks Friday (although those were postponed because of high wind) and Buck Night, attractions that certainly swelled the crowd.
We’ll get a better read when Greinke pitches on Wednesday night at Kauffman against the Blue Jays. The only “extra” is it’s College Night Happy Hour with cheap seats and concessions for high schoolers and collegians.
The biggest attraction is young Zack Greinke.
Here’s a statistical nugget from the Elias Sports Bureau: Zack Greinke is the only pitcher in Royals history to pitch at least five scoreless innings in four consecutive starts. He shut out the Indians for five innings in Monday night’s 4-2 win and now has 25 straight scoreless innings. The record for a starter is 33 straight zeros by Kevin Appier in 1993.
The three Royals pitchers with three straight starts with at least five scoreless innings are Bret Saberhagen in 1989, Appier in that ’93 run and David Cone in 1994. That’s pretty elite company for the Zackmeister.
That old feeling: It’s good to see the Royals getting their alumni more involved in the last two or three years. For the last two springs, alums like Willie Wilson and Joe Randa have been brought into camp to help the Minor Leaguers. For the grand re-opening of Kauffman Stadium there were 27 alums on the field, from Marty Pattin to Bill Pecota, and a bunch of them were at the Welcome Home Luncheon on Monday. Appreciation for the past is all too rare among today’s ballplayers so some indoctrination about the Royals’ history is a great idea.
Second the motion: One of the club’s second base hopes for the future, Johnny Giavotella, had a big game for Single-A Wilmington on Monday – seven RBIs and two home runs including a grand slam. A second-round pick last year, he broke in with a .299 average for Single-A Burlington.