The KC Royals’ earliest Opening Day means more bitterly cold games
By Shawn Bauman
As Major League Baseball starts games earlier in the year, the KC Royals will have more experiences with severely cold games.
A seasoned Midwesterner knows that you are not safe from a spring freeze or snowstorm into mid or late April. Add in the fact the KC Royals are the furthest team south in the American League Central and the recipe is there for winter coats in the dugouts, bullpens, and stands as we visit division foes.
While occasionally an end of March start date has occurred in the last decade, most Opening Days have happened from April 3rd to April 6th. But in 2018 it moved back to March 29th and in 2019 March 28th. For the 2020 season, the Royals will open up on March 26th and it will be in Chicago followed by a visit to Detroit. Sounds chilly.
I went to a late April afternoon game against the Minnesota Twins one year and I packed a sweatshirt as I saw the temperature was going to be cool. It never warmed up to the projected temperature and I ended up applying for a credit card I did not want because they were giving away a blanket if you did. The drinks of choice that day were not pop and beer but coffee and hot chocolate.
Expect more trips to Kauffman like that if the season will continue to start in March. While baseball would like to engage the fans more I would suggest thinking about the midwest and northeast teams that still wrestle to keep winter from invading during the early spring. Nothing keeps fans away like worrying about how many layers to wear to the game.
Here are three memorable cold games in KC Royals history:
April 7, 2007
For some reason, 13,899 people came to Kauffman Stadium to watch the Royals take on the Detroit Tigers. Although sunny, the temperature at the 1:10 pm start was 29 degrees with a 13 mph wind.
Despite the sting that would come from making contact with the ball, the hitters turned out in force in this game as the Tigers pulled off a 6-5 victory. Home runs were hit by Gary Sheffield, Ivan Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson for Detroit and Reggie Sanders put one out for Kansas City. Maybe the cold settled in towards the end of the game as no runs were scored from the seventh inning on. Taking the loss for the Royals that day was Gil Meche.
April 9, 1996
A trip to New York to play the Yankees turned into quite the experience as the snow fell throughout the game. The game had other memorable connotations to it, like Joe DiMaggio throwing out the first pitch, Derek Jeter as a rookie batting ninth and a start time temperature of 38 degrees.
Check out the macho umpire behind the plate in the clip below wearing short sleeves!
April 8, 2018
The KC Royals and Cleveland Indians made history playing the coldest game at Progressive Field just a couple of seasons ago. The temperature was right at the freezing mark and despite a sunny day, neither team opted to take batting practice.
The Royals already had to reschedule two games early in the season due to bad weather so apparently this game was on no matter what. 14,240 brave fans made it to the park that day to watch the Indians pull off a late-inning rally and beat KC 3-2.
Maybe Mother Nature will be kind to the baseball fans this year but with an earlier start date, it looks like Royals fans will have to shiver through some games.