What happened in the game was secondary to the 73 players who participated in the 44th annual Ban Johnson League All-Star Game last Sunday after the Texas Rangers-Kansas City Royals game. It was the venue that mattered most to the players who got the chance to play on the Kauffman Stadium turf.
For the record the B All-Stars defeated the J All-Stars 5-0.
The 14-team league was split into two all-star teams with players of each all-star team coming from seven teams.
Natural Baseball Academy catcher Ian Robinson had two hits, scored a run and drove in another in his two at bats, but Robinson, a 2010 Bishop Miege graduate, really wanted to talk about the experience.
“This is an amazing venue,” he said following the game. “Getting a chance to play in a big league ballpark is really something. “
League officials named Robinson as the Most Valuable Player of the All-Star Game. He will be a sophomore at Pittsburg State.
Seaboard shortstop Darius Hampton said, “It’s a great experience to play here. I’m just happy to have been named an all star.”
Hampton, a Raytown native, will be a sophomore at Johnson County Community College.
“It was a pleasure to play on one of the nicest stadiums in all of baseball,” Hampton added.
Kansas City Sports Club Blues right-handed pitcher Matt Eckelman, a graduate of St. James Academy, will be a freshman at St. Louis University.
“It is a great honor to get to play here as a high school player in a college baseball league” said Eckelman, a Shawnee resident. “It was really fun to play in this stadium.”
Gladstone resident Caleb Baker will be a sophomore at Rockhurst University. An outfielder for NKC Apartments, he enjoyed his chance to play at Kauffman Stadium. “I grew up in Kansas City, so it has been a dream of mine to play here,” he said. “I will never forget this moment.”
NKC Apartments pitcher James Fitzgerald, a Harrisonville resident, also enjoyed the ride. “It was a great experience to play here with these guys,” he said. “It was a perfect ending of the season.”
A graduate of Longview Community College, Fitzgerald now will attend Pittsburg State.
Overland Park native and 2011 St.. Thomas Aquinas graduate Alex Drew plays second base for UMB Bank. “It was a special opportunity for me,” he said. “I was blessed to get the chance to start and get a base hit.” He will be a sophomore at Fort Scott Community College.
BJ Raiders first baseman/designated hitter Charlie Krueger probably comes from the farthest away from Kansas City than any other Ban Johnson player. He graduated from Omaha Creighton Prep and will be a red-shirt sophomore at Northwest Missouri State.
“This was a great opportunity for me,” Krueger said. “It was nice to play with all these guys. Playing in a big league ballpark is something you dream of as a little kid.”
Fourth-year UMB Bank manager Adam Clay managed the B All-Star team. This was his first time as an All-Star manager.
“We had a great group of guys,” he said. “I told them to go out and have fun. Get on base and score some runs.”
Clay used 11 pitchers in the nine-inning game, and they held the J All-Stars to two hits.