Local host families welcome Kansas City Monarchs players into their homes for the summer season

Mark Rountree
The Leavenworth Times
About 20 players on the Kansas City Monarchs baseball team are living with host families this summer. Cathy Stueckemann, left, and Cheryl Reitmeyer and their families are among many other families serving as hosts this summer.

When she goes to the grocery store these days, Cheryl Reitmeyer makes a note to pick up an important item on her shopping list – Fruity Pebbles.

That’s because Jake Matthys’ day isn’t complete without several bowls of the breakfast cereal.

“I eat a lot of Fruity Pebbles and whole milk,” said Matthys, a 27-year-old right-handed pitcher for the Kansas City Monarchs. “I just like it.”

Reitmeyer and her husband, Robin, are volunteering as the host family for Matthys during the Monarchs’ summer season in the American Association.

“It’s really huge for us as players,” said Matthys, a starting pitcher from Spring Lake Park, Minnesota. “We appreciate it so much. They have opened their homes up to us. They are our biggest fans. It’s huge to have that family feel at home and at the ballpark. We always hear our host families cheering us on from the stands.”

Cheryl Reitmeyer is the host family coordinator for the Monarchs. Her family has been involved as a host family for the last nine years.

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“We love baseball and we just enjoy working with the players and other host families,” she said.

She said host families are not paid by the organization to host a player.

“We get season tickets and a discount at the team store, that’s it,” she said.

Cheryl Reitmeyer is shown with Jake Matthys, a member of the Kansas City Monarchs who is living with the Reitmeyer family this summer.

The Reitmeyer family is one of 19 host families for the Monarchs. They are sharing their homes during the season with about 20 players.

The host families agree to provide a private room for the players and feed them breakfast each morning before they head to Legends Field, home of the Monarchs.

The Reitmeyer family is actually hosting two players this season at their Kansas City home. They also have opened their home up to Justin Lamazares, a bullpen catcher for the club.

Cathy and Daniel Stueckemann of Basehor are serving as a host family for the first time. They are hosting Ryan Newell, a 30-year-old right-handed pitcher from Memphis, Tennessee.

“We have two adult sons in the military now, so we have the space,” said Cathy. “This is an opportunity to get involved in the community. … We are a sports family. And it’s interesting to hear what his aspirations are after baseball,” said Cathy. She said Newell currently is taking online courses in finance.

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Don said that it is a “good possibility” that his family will host another player next season.

“It’s a very positive experience and we have really enjoyed it,” he said.

Cheryl Reitmeyer said her family plans to keep serving as a host family.

“The main thing is, you form relationships with these (players),” she said. “And I just can’t picture my summer without being at the ballpark.”

Reitmeyer said it is not uncommon that host families stay in touch with the players they host.

“Sometimes you develop long relationships with the guys,” she said. “Other times, you never hear from them. But we always enjoy having our players in the summer. It’s just a fun thing to do.”