The KC Royals and Detroit played a historic game on June 13th. And a Kansas City rookie returning to his college stomping grounds made some personal history.
On June 13, 2019, a pleasant late-spring evening in Omaha, the KC Royals and Detroit Tigers made history. The clubs squared off at TD Ameritrade Park in the first major league game ever played in Nebraska. The Royals, playing as the home team in the city that its Triple-A affiliate calls home, won the contest 7-3.
That TD Ameritrade was the venue for this game was especially meaningful to KC second baseman Nicky Lopez, a rookie called to the majors only a month before — the ballpark was home to Lopez for the three seasons he played for Creighton University and the site of many moments that inspired the Royals to make him their fifth-round draft choice in 2016.
Lopez was struggling coming into the game. He was hitting .133 for June (4 for 30) and slashing .204/.250/.276 since his May 14th big league debut. After sitting him the night before in Kansas City, Manager Ned Yost gave his rookie the chance to play in front of his college ball fans.
Lopez took advantage of the opportunity, and one second-inning moment would give him a memory to last a lifetime.
On the second pitch of the inning, Lopez drove a Matthew Boyd pitch into the Detroit bullpen; it was the first major league home run for the slumping second baseman, a highlight of his rookie season and, undoubtedly, what will prove to be a highlight of his career. The solo homer accounted for the first run of the Royals’ four-run victory.
Lopez added a single in the fourth and finished the game 2-4 with two runs scored, a good night’s work for a former Creighton Bluejay playing for his college crowd.
It was a memorable moment for Lopez…and one of the Royals’ top moments of June.