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KC participates in longest Opening Day pitch

Posted: 3:37 PM, Apr 03, 2016
Updated: 2016-04-04 07:16:07-04
KC participates in longest Opening Day pitch

The 2016 Royals home opener made history before a single cleat touched the field.

Working together, thousands of fans tossed the ball over a 10-mile route to complete the longest opening pitch in baseball history.

 

 

Community leaders, fans of all ages and even Royals Hall of Famer George Brett kicked off the event, which was called Relay the Way .

More than 2,000 fans lined up along a route that started at Union Station and snaked its way up Grand, over to 18th Street, onto Brooklyn Avenue, then turned on Linwood and continued the way to The K.

Each participant had 10 seconds to throw the ball (without dropping it!) to the next person.

 

 

"I'm ready, I'm ready," participant Carol Knipp said. "I got my 40-year-old ball glove here, and we practiced with a tennis ball. We warmed up, we're ready to go."

Fans said it was a unique way to send a ceremonial ball, and all of KC's support, right across the mound.

"So exciting for us as a family to be able to come down together and be a part of something that has never been done before," Carol said.

Her grandchildren, Margot and David, got to be a part of the relay. The pair were excited to see their favorite players in a new season.

The KC Urban Youth Academy was along the route , and Relay the Way participants raised $100,000 for the organization to build a new facility. The $14.5 million dollar project will be constructed in the Jazz District. 

"It reflects Kansas City because look at what's happening. With over 2,000 people participating in something that's totally unique, that's going to help somebody else," Mayor Sly James said.  "That's what we're always all about."

It took four hours for the ball to get from Union Station to Kauffman Stadium. Fans say it was the Royals spirit that made the longest first pitch an event everyone could enjoy.

“It was just fun visiting with other Royals fans here. We are all just one big family, and it was just fun visiting with everybody in line. Everybody is excited just like the parade, you know?” said Royals fan Pam Hahn.

The last person to touch the ball before it went into the K was 10-year-old Trig Mabrey.

“When I saw the ball coming down, I was a little scared that I’d drop it,” said Mabrey.

Luckily he caught he ball perfectly, and passed it on to the Royals.

“It was just really fun to be the last person to touch the ball that was going to become the first pitch,” said Mabrey.

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Sarah Plake can be reached at sarah.plake@kshb.com .

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