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Friday, May 6, 2016

Fort Scott graced with Royal(s) visit

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Royals Hall of Fame pitcher Dennis Leonard signs a baseball card for a Pittsburg resident at Monday's Royals Caravan stop at Walmart in Fort Scott.(Ruth Campbell/Tribune)
Fort Scottians got a taste of Royal-ty this week with a visit from five members of the Kansas City baseball team -- including mascot Sluggerrr -- taking part in the Royals Caravan.

The line to meet, greet and get autographs from pitchers Danny Duffy, Will Smith, Bruce Chen and Royals Hall of Fame pitcher Dennis Leonard wound through the center of the store. Team broadcaster Steve Physioc and Sluggerrr were also on hand.

Officials traveling with the caravan said they'd seen "great crowds" at all their stops.

"It's been anywhere from 200-250. Our time is usually an hour," said Colby Curry, Royals coordinator of communications and broadcasting. But players will stay longer if need be.

"We're getting larger crowds this year because of higher expectations," Curry said. "We've had good draft picks over the last three or four years. Those players are now reaching the major leagues. ... They're part of a core group of players."

Stefan Huggins and Antelmo Beltran came along with Lance Weber from Pittsburg to get all his gear signed. He brought along jerseys, "lots of baseball cards" and a bobble-head doll of Leonard.

Kaydra Woods of Uniontown thought coming to the Caravan was "awesome." She got a baseball autographed by Chen. Asked if she had a favorite player, she said, "I like them all."

Physioc, who has been the Royals broadcaster for two years and a major league play-by-play announcer for 27 years, said tour stops so far this past week in Joplin, Warrensburg, Mo., and Springdale, Ark., home of the Royals' Double AA team, had been "fantastic."

"I think it has a lot do with the excitement of the Royals and what we've done in the off-season," Physioc said.

Physioc grew up in Kansas City and knows the passion people have for the national pastime there. "Baseball and the heartland go hand in hand. It's been wonderful to see this kind of enthusiasm for Royals baseball," he said.

Physioc and his wife, Stacey, moved to Stillwell just a couple of months ago from Southern California and "we love it. We love being back in the Midwest."

The Physiocs have two children, a 26-year-old daughter named Ryan and a 23-year-old named Kevin. They have one grandchild and one on the way. Both children are adopted and Kevin is named for San Francisco Giants left-fielder Kevin Mitchell.

In fact, Kevin Physioc is pictured with Mitchell on Mitchell's 1993 baseball card, Physioc said.

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