Tuesday, April 22, 2008

How I Became a Royals Fan: Rick McGinniss

Name: Rick McGinniss
Location: Kansas City

Tell me a little about yourself. What do you do for a living? What do you like to do for fun? What are your hobbies?

I've been married to Jetta for 29 years and we have three grown daughters, two who live in MO and one who lives in DC. I've lived in Kansas City since 1987 when we moved out here so I could attend Midwestern Seminary. In 1994 we planted North Heartland Community Church in the KC Northland and I'm still the pastor there. I like to golf, work in the yard, build computers, and, of course, watch the Royals.

How old were you when you first started following the Royals?

I was 30 when we moved to Kansas City.

How did you initially become interested in the Royals?

The first time I remember actually seeing the Royals and paying attention was in the World Series when they beat St. Louis in 1985. I was still living in NJ, so I wasn't really a fan, but I watched the series.

Who was your first favorite Royals’ player and why?

George Brett.

Can you remember the first time you saw a game at Royals/Kauffman Stadium? Describe your experience.

The first time would have been Opening Day in 1988. I was working at a church as a youth pastor and our senior pastor, who was also a big Royals fan and a member of the Rotary Club, invited me to sell papers on the streets to raise money for their camps. That got me a free ticket and a free lunch at the stadium. It was awesome. I couldn't believe how beautiful the ballpark was. Twenty years later, I'm still amazed by it.

What is your favorite Kauffman Stadium memory?

I have two very distinct K-memories.

My wife and I were there the Opening Day when Slugger was "born." It was bitter cold--maybe 30-35 degrees, but sunny. They brought out this big wooden box on the back of a truck. The truck circled the stadium, then stopped in front of the Royals dugout. The box started shaking and out popped Slugger.

I was also there the night Mike Sweeney charged the mound and pounded Jeff Weaver. My youngest daughter and I were seated about 10 rows behind the Royals dugout. I remember telling her "that guy must've said something really bad for Mike Sweeney to do that."

Tell me your favorite memory from the 2003 season when the Royals spent most of the season in first place in the AL Central.

I don't remember anything in particular, just the feeling of wonder and amazement during the 16-3 start. Well, that and "Nostros Creemos" (we believe).

Who is your favorite Royals player right now? Why?

Grud--he's an old guy but he can still play with the best of them. Kinda reminds me of me. :)

What are your favorite memories of Mike Sweeney?

The guy could flat out hit. His batting song for many years was "Jesus Freak" by D.C. Talk.

What are your thoughts about the current Royals roster?

I'm very excited about the core of younger players and also the guys in the pipeline, especially at AA. I'm very interested to see how Rowdy Hardy does this year. He seems to have a Bannister-like approach. I'm not sure that TPJ will make it unless he hits better. I would like to see them swap Teahen and Gload on the field. Mark doesn't look near as comfortable in left as he did in right last year, even at the beginning of the year and Gload has played left. I love our pitching and I'm glad that the Nomo experiment is over. I hope they stick with Hochevar and move Bale to the bullpen. Other than that, we just need to be patient. This will be a very good team in the second half of the season.

Do you have any other memories about the Royals that you’d like to share?

I've went to observe Spring Training in Surprise for a few days in 2004 and again in late February of this year. It's a blast because you get to be right on top of the field in practices and in games. I was very interested to go this year because of the advent of Hillman and I have to say I was impressed. I saw an intrasquad game where he and a few of the other coaches actually got in the field and he literally coached the players after plays, asking them what they were thinking, explaining how he wanted it done. It was amazing. What was more amazing though, was how he stopped to talk with fans behind the dugout before the Cactus League games. I think Moore got the right guy for this group of players and for our future.

Here are a few of the pictures that Rick took during Spring Training this year:

Trey Hillman at work:

Zack and Billy play Texas hold 'em (sorta):

Billy Butler: the second coming of Sweeney?

This series will run periodically here at Royal Reflections. If you'd like to be interviewed for this series, send Lee an email and he'll be in touch. Also, please note: all photos belong to the interviewees and are not to be copied and/or posted elsewhere.

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