I’m usually a glass-half-full kind of guy. I have my bad moments like everyone else, but I also love to find silver linings. Thanks to the power of positivity, I am usually able to do so, even at the ballpark during a losing season.
Sometimes it takes an event like the annual Big Slick at Kauffman Stadium. Once a year, local stars Paul Rudd, Rob Riggle, Jason Sudeikis, Eric Stonestreet, Heidi Gardner and David Koechner return home to raise money and bring smiles to the patients at Children’s Mercy Hospital.
Other times, it’s ordinary people with extraordinary stories that I get to share as a natural extension of what I do. They might not be famous in the way the Big Slick celebrities area, but it certainly doesn’t diminish their ability to shine.
In my first book, Small Ball, Big Results, I wrote a chapter on the power of positivity. It highlighted Royals catcher Salvador Perez, my broadcast partner Rex Hudler and Royals super-fan Sarah Nauser. She’s a retired police officer who was diagnosed with ALS before turning 30. And despite her grim prognosis, has never let it shake her spirit.
I’ve only known Sarah for a few years, but what I can tell you is that – without a doubt – she exemplifies the power of positivity in a way that few can. Here is a bit of what I wrote about her:
I first met Sarah Nauser when she appeared on our pregame show August 8, 2018, prior to throwing out the first pitch before a Royals game. I have to be honest—knowing her story, I was worried about my emotions and possibly “losing it” on the air during the interview.
That never happened, because Sarah was never going to allow it. Not this incredibly upbeat young woman. The 29-year-old Kansas City Police Department Officer had recently received a devastating diagnosis of ALS. She said the average lifespan after diagnosis is three to five years. When I asked her during the interview how she was doing she replied, “Day by day, new experience by new experience, it’s been a blast.” She kept mentioning the word “blast.” Later on, one of Sarah’s friends suggested that Montgomery and I looked smitten with Sarah on the air. How could we not be? She just smiled through the whole interview. She took pictures with us afterward, and then more while sitting on the dugout bench in between Royals manager Ned Yost and Hall-of-Famer George Brett. All three flashed big grins.
Fast forward to a week later when Montgomery, Carter, and I decided to spend a long rain delay at Kauffman Stadium visiting with Sarah and her friends. She was attending the game just one day after undergoing surgery to put a port in her chest. No complaints. Sarah just kept smiling. In fact, we found out that her nickname on the police force is “Smiley.” She just has this way of uplifting everyone around her, an infectious ball of energy capable of brightening any situation. Well…anything outside of Mother Nature on a temperamental night. “I can’t bring the sunshine all the time,” Sarah laughed during the delay.
I’ve watched this young, beautiful, energetic woman make an impact on everyone she’s come into contact with at the stadium. The red bracelet I’m wearing on the cover of this book reads, “Sarah’s Soldiers” on one side and “Fight To Cure ALS” on the other. ABC featured Sarah nationally on the show Nightline in 2019, and she continues to inspire anyone lucky enough to come into contact with her.
This year marks five years since Sarah’s diagnosis. On June 2, 2023, she was once again a guest on the pregame show and it carried a particular significance. Not only because it was Lou Gehrig Day, but because it was a milestone she was never expected to see.
Every day, Sarah chooses to live: full out, bursting with joy and defying the odds. I’ve already dedicated another chapter to her in my next book. Her life is an incredible one with many more pages to the story. It deserves – and will be – told over and over again, inside and Out of the Park.
I’ve written in this space before about my dislike for domed stadiums, especially ones without a retractable roof. My stance on that has not changed. With that said, Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida is not as bad as people make it out to be. I’ll admit it’s an oddly-designed building with catwalks and visible obstructions, but the team always manages to deliver an entertaining brand of baseball.
You might not guess it judging from the number of fans in attendance, but it seems to be more a product of poor stadium location than anything. Access requires people to battle traffic from one side of the Bay to the other and crossing the bridge can be a nightmare. It’s not the best venue, but it’s also not the worst (I’m looking at you, Oakland). And selfishly, the silver lining is that it’s an easy place to work.
While we could debate the merits of domed stadiums versus not, there is no arguing that Orioles Park at Camden Yards is a perpetual favorite. It’s one of the best places to watch a baseball game, provided the weather cooperates, and I can’t recommend it enough as a place to visit. I can’t think of a single other ballpark that looks as beautiful today as it did when it opened in 1992.
The warehouse in right field is picturesque. Eutaw Street beyond the outfield has its unique home run plaques. And of course there’s the smell of Boog’s BBQ that could entice anyone, especially a Kansas Citian.
A one-week road trip to Miami and Baltimore provided numerous opportunities to try out some local flavor. No trip to Miami would be complete without a stop at Versailles, which is billed as The World’s Most Famous Cuban Restaurant.
My past four visits have been with Cuban friends who order massive amounts of what always turns into the greatest sampler platter of all time. Because of that, I can’t recommend any one specific menu item. But between the black beans, rice, ground beef, roasted pork, plantains and more – all washed down with some Cuban coffee – it’s one of those places that you really can’t go wrong.
In Baltimore, crab cakes may seem like an obvious choice, but they’re something you can get almost anywhere these days. Steamed crabs are a different story. They’re a messy, delicious dish that is unique Maryland. My producer is from Baltimore and says that any proper Marylander knows how to eat them. I, on the other hand, am a work in progress, though I’ll gladly continue to practice when we are in town.
One Baltimore delicacy I have mastered is the eclectic breakfast at Blue Moon Cafe. It’s one of my favorite spots in the entire country, and a go-to that I make a point of visiting at least once each season. It has a range of offerings, but some of its more unique dishes – and my personal favorites – include the Cap’n Crunch French toast and churro French toast. So much for the diet.
Rounding the Bases Rewind
The power of positivity would be lost without a certain amount of adversity to showcase it. And in keeping with the spirit of silver linings, there is no podcast episode I can think of that more aptly embodies it than my interview with Jeremy Poincenot.
Jeremy is a husband, a father of two young children and a world-champion golfer. He is also blind. His vision was healthy until he was a sophomore in college. It makes his ability to “see” the good, so to speak, in every situation all the more unique. Losing the gift of sight as a young adult could become an insurmountable obstacle for many, but not for him.
He was forced to relinquish his independence and re-learn nearly every aspect of his life. But in the process, he discovered the power of interdependence, and it brought him a level of fulfillment that may have never been realized otherwise.
If you haven’t already, I encourage you to listen to his interview. It’s one that is guaranteed to uplift and inspire, along with the other interviews released in June:
Don’t miss new episodes released every Monday and Thursday, available wherever you get your podcasts.
Would you or someone you know make a great guest on Rounding the Bases?
The power of positivity is easy to recognize when there are interesting people and events to chronicle. This month, Big Slick Kansas City brought the magic of watching comedians like Paul Rudd and Jason Sudeikis deliver baseball antics for an entire half of an inning.
A couple of weeks later in St. Petersburg, the Royals were leading the Rays 9-4 at the end of the 8th. Superstar Salvador Perez turned to me and asked who I would interview after the game. The inquiry was a rare type of in-game occurrence that let me know he had an idea to share. I was all ears as he told me, “Freddy and Olli together. In English.”
Like their teammates Salvy and Maikel Garcia, Freddy Fermin and Edward Olivares are from Venezuela. Both are learning English as a second language. And Salvy’s hope as the team leader was to encourage them to appear on live television without a translator. The fact that they trusted me enough to deliver it was a highlight.
— Bally Sports Kansas City (@BallySportsKC) June 24, 2023
It was something that brought pride to everyone involved. As far as interviews go, it comes second only to one on June 17th, which may even go down as my favorite of the entire year.
Samad Taylor had just made his MLB debut that afternoon before stepping up to the plate in a wild 9-9 game. Garcia was on third when Taylor delivered a hit. Not only was it his first in the Big Leagues, but it also made him the second player in Royals history to crack a walk-off hit in his debut showing. The emotion was indescribable, and if you listen closely, you can hear me trying not to choke up.
This months sit down with Chief of Staff KC President Casey Wright is another one you don’t want to miss. We discuss the power of positivity in baseball and business.
Do you or your clients have an event in 2023? Are you looking for a speaker who can connect, inspire and bring the power of positivity? If so, we should talk.
Please contact my speaking manager, Charlotte Raybourn, to discuss my availability for fall and winter speaking engagements.
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