KC players excited about Classic showcase
Royals eager to show revamped stadium to the world
KANSAS CITY -- Royals catcher Jason Kendall has been a part of All-Star Games in Philadelphia, Denver and Atlanta. But he sees something special for the 2012 Midsummer Classic at Kauffman Stadium.
"We've got the perfect ballpark for it," Kendall said. "It's the most gorgeous ballpark in the game."
Now that comes from a guy who's been around and seen it all.
Royals players, who watched as Commissioner Bud Selig awarded the 2012 game to Kansas City on Wednesday, were enthusiastic about the decision.
"That's really, really nice for it to be here," said closer Joakim Soria, an American League All-Star in 2008, when the game was played at New York's old Yankee Stadium. "It's good for the city and we've got this brand-new stadium, and it'll be fun. It's going to be nice for all the people in Kansas City that love baseball."
It will be the city's first All-Star Game since 1973.
"I think that's pretty cool," said utility man Willie Bloomquist. "I think it's great. The city's obviously bid for that pretty often, I would think, and to get it is a tribute to the way they've upgraded the stadium here. It's big for the city, big for the fans. It'll be a neat deal for them."
Left fielder Scott Podsednik noted that the announcement should stir a lot of interest for fans.
"It's good for the organization, it's good for the city," Podsednik said. "It's going to be exciting. Any time you can hold an all-star event in any sport, it means nothing but good things for the city, the economy, for lots of things.
"There haven't been any playoff baseball here since, what, 1985? So I think it'll give the fans something to come and get excited about come mid-season 2012."
But, wait, there could be some playoff action here before that.
"Let's hope so," Podsednik said with a grin.
Royals first baseman Billy Butler played in the Futures Game, a fixture of All-Star Week, in 2006 at Pittsburgh and was named the game's Most Valuable Player.
"At that point in your career, you've never played in a big league park, so obviously it's a great honor," Butler said. "And it's fun, because it gets you connected with guys that are going to be playing in the big leagues. Every team we play against has a representative I played with or against in that Futures Game."
Among those players whom Butler connected with include Troy Tulowitzki, Alex Gordon, Josh Fields, Hunter Pence, Austin Jackson and others. It's a big stepping-stone for players deemed to be Major Leaguers of the future.
Soria, who relished his All-Star experience two years ago, had one more thought about the 2012 Classic.
"I hope to be in that game," Soria said.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.