Naturals again welcome Royals Caravan for 2012
Annual winter caravan stopping in Springdale on January 16th
SPRINGDALE, AR – Although the grass is not green and the nights are chilly, the 2012 home opener at Arvest Ballpark is less than 100 days away. With that in mind, the Northwest Arkansas Naturals are excited to welcome the Kansas City Royals 2012 Winter Caravan as it makes its yearly stop in what has become an annual tradition of kicking off a new year of baseball in our area.
The signature event for this year’s caravan will be a lunch held in cooperation with the Springdale Rotary Club on Monday, January 16th at the Holiday Inn in Springdale at 1500 S. 48th Street. The lunch program will begin at 11:30. Several Royals of past and present will be on hand to meet and greet fans, sign autographs, and take questions and answers from Naturals fans.
Admission is $15 per person which includes a buffet lunch, and fans are encouraged to call (479) 927-4900 to purchase tickets. Naturals’ season ticket holders and mini-pack holders may purchase their tickets for a discounted rate of $10 over the phone or at the Arvest Ballpark front office. Rotary club members of Northwest Arkansas may reserve their seats by contacting Courtney Palfreeman at (479) 530-8060.
Attending the caravan this season are two prominent Kansas City Royals’ alums – former outfielder Willie Wilson and former infielder Kevin Seitzer, who currently serves as the Royals’ hitting coach at the Major League level. Current Royals’ pitchers and former Naturals Louis Coleman, Everett Teaford, and Aaron Crow will also be on hand and will participate in an audience-driven question and answer session that will be emceed by Joel Goldberg, the host of the Royals’ pre- and post-game shows on Fox Sports Kansas City, and Toby Cook, the Royals’ Vice President for Community Affairs and Publicity. Royals’ Chairman and Owner David Glass will also be in attendance.
Coleman, a fifth-round selection of the Royals in the 2009 draft out of LSU, was sensational as a rookie right-hander in the Royals’ bullpen this past season, posting a 2.87 ERA in 48 relief outings and fanning 64 batters in 54 2/3 innings pitched. A member of the Naturals’ 2010 Texas League Championship team, the 25-year old spent the first half of the 2010 season with the Naturals, posting a stellar 2-1 record and 2.09 ERA in 21 outings with six saves, earning a spot on the Texas League All-Star team.
The Naturals’ 2010 Pitcher of the Year, Teaford spent part of the 2009 season and all of 2010 in Northwest Arkansas and made his Major League debut this past May. In 26 games with the Royals, including three starts, the southpaw posted a 2-1 record with one save and a 3.27 ERA and just 36 hits allowed in 44 innings of work. In his stellar 2010 season, Teaford established a Naturals’ franchise record with 14 wins against just three losses, making 27 appearances, including 12 starts. His spectacular playoff pitching in both 2009 and 2010 helped the Naturals reach two consecutive Texas League Championship Series. Following the 2010 season the 27-year old was one of six Royals farmhands chosen to represent Team USA in the Pan American Games Qualifying Tournament, a group that also included former Naturals and current Royals’ starters Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas.
Crow, who emerged as a key cog in Royals’ manager Ned Yost’s bullpen last season in just his second professional season, posted a 4-4 record and 2.76 ERA in 57 appearances with the Royals, striking out 65 batters in 62 innings. The 25-year old was also selected as the Royals’ lone representative for the American League’s All-Star Team. He was the Royals’ first-round pick (12th overall) in the 2009 draft and began his first professional season in the Naturals’ rotation, where he was the Opening Day starter and posted a 7-7 mark for the eventual Texas League Champions.
Seitzer was an 11th round selection by the Royals in the 1983 draft and made his MLB debut with Kansas City in 1986 as a first baseman. The following season, he flip-flopped positions with Hall of Fame third baseman George Brett during a rookie season that saw him bat .323 with 15 home runs and 207 hits, earning him the first of two selections to the American League All-Star team. Seitzer went on to a distinguished big league career that saw him bat .295 with 1,557 hits over a career that spanned 12 seasons spent with the Royals, Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland Athletics, and Cleveland Indians. Following his playing career, the 49-year old Seitzer served as the Arizona Diamondbacks hitting coach for a portion of the 2007 season, and was named to the same post with the Royals prior to the start of the 2009 season.
Wilson was a switch-hitting speed demon who was drafted by Kansas City in the first round of the 1974 draft. Perfectly suited to cover the large outfield at Kauffman Stadium, Wilson made his debut two seasons after he was drafted and went on to have a 19-year career in the big leagues, rapping out 2,207 hits and swiping 668 bases while batting .285. Much of that career (1976-1990) was spent with the Royals. He was an American League All-Star in 1982 and 1983, was a two-time Silver Slugger Award winner, a winner of a Gold Glove in 1980, and a member of the Kansas City Royals’ 1985 World Series Championship team. After his playing career the 56-year old Wilson served as a coach in the Toronto Blue Jays minor league system in 1995 and 1997 and currently runs the Willie Wilson Baseball Foundation in Kansas City.
The Northwest Arkansas Naturals are the Double-A Texas League affiliate of the Kansas City Royals and play at state-of-the-art Arvest Ballpark, located in Springdale. The 2011 season begins on Thursday, April 7th. Visit our website, nwanaturals.com, for information on season tickets and ticket plans.