In the middle of the Post Exchange, the line began to take shape around 8 a.m.
Two die-hard Kansas City Royals fans were the first to show, staking claim to the front of a line that by 11 had reached the building’s front doors.
Thirty minutes later, hundreds of folks had joined the mass that now snaked throughout the corridors, all excited to meet some of their baseball heroes. The Royals’ Winter Caravan paid a visit to Fort Leavenworth Tuesday, to not only sign autographs, but also pay tribute to those who protect this country.
“The Kansas City Royals and their former players should take it upon ourselves to spend more time here to let the soldiers know how much we appreciate the effort they give,” Major League Baseball and Royal Hall of Famer George Brett said. “Believe me, you guys are in our thoughts and in our prayers daily. I want to thank everyone just for their efforts.”
Joining the Kansas City legend was fellow Royal Hall of Famer Jeff Montgomery, former MLB player and current KC television analyst Rex Hudler and current Kansas City pitcher Jeremy Guthrie.
“Most importantly, I just want to say thank you,” Guthrie said. “This is a chance for us to be surrounded by heroes. Earlier, he (Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher Greca) said that George Brett was his hero growing up; you are our heroes every single day. You and the thousands across the world that serve.”
Besides announcing their appreciation, the group also discussed the upcoming season.
“This time of the year is exciting,” Hudler said. “They got four new starting pitchers. You folks should be excited about your Kansas City Royals because we are in the game this year and looking forward to it.”
After speaking, the foursome signed bats, balls, shirts, posters and a variety of other items for the large crowd, which included young and old.
“I know as a player, often times you maybe take a lot of things for grant it,” Montgomery said. “We are gone a lot and I know the military members are gone a lot too. The families really kind of keep things together back home so it’s exciting to support.”
“The families, you are heroes as well,” Guthrie said, “for supporting them, showing them and just going through all the challenges you go through.”