Kansas City Royals Hall of Fame third basemen George Brett took the mic briefly to introduce the night’s headliners: Royals leftfielder Alex Gordon, Royals color commentator Rex Hudler and former Royals catcher Jason Kendall.
Gordon, Hudler and Kendall were part of Shawnee Mission East baseball’s fundraiser “Tales from the Dugout,” at the Vox Theatre on Thursday night, as money was raised to supply the Lancers’ newly built baseball field with dugouts.
SM East coach Jerrod Ryherd said it will be a nice addition to the field so players have a place to go if it rains and protection of equipment. The dugouts will be fenced with a windscreen.
“It happened twice last year and it was kind of a mess,” Ryherd said.
Ryherd is looking to play a few games at the new field, but it also needs to be balanced with practices and the sub-varsity teams. He said playing games at the new field will involve the community more.
“The community needs to see baseball being played in front of them,” Ryherd said. “Little kids growing up need to see Shawnee Mission East Lancers playing baseball. At 3&2, they can’t get rides out there. No 7, 8 year old mom or dad is going to drive a kid out to 3&2 to watch a baseball game. If it’s in our backyard, kids can ride their bike down there.”
The success from last season, Joey Wentz going in the first round, along with the lofty expectations this season will make the Lancers a must-watch. Ryherd said a few players on this year’s team are on the draft board.
More than 100 people attended the event and Ryherd wasn’t surprised by the support. He said the community does a great job backing Lancer sports, not just the baseball team.
There were an estimated dozen alumni who played for Ryherd in the past seven years back for the event. On top of that, some of the parents are alumni and some people, who Ryherd didn’t know, came up to him and told him they are alumni.
“We have a lot of alumni involved,” Ryherd said. “It’s a big reason I wanted to do the hall of fame deal we’re doing. I noticed, when I got the job, how many kids are alumni kids and how cool it would be for some to get inducted into the hall of fame, and then they move back to the community and they show their son, grandson, ‘Hey, I’m in the hall of fame.’”