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Don't Let History Of Kansas City Royals' Name Steer You Wrong
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Don't Let History Of Kansas City Royals' Name Steer You Wrong

Sports

Don't Let History Of Kansas City Royals' Name Steer You Wrong

Don't Let History Of Kansas City Royals' Name Steer You Wrong
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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/357859480/357859481" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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What's in a name? Bob Petersen, president and CEO of the American Royal, tells Robert Siegel where the local baseball team got their name and why the main event this week is not at Kauffman Stadium.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The Royals versus the Giants. It sounds like an epic matchup - even medieval because you might reasonably think that the Royals are called the Royals out of some deference to royalty - kings and queens. And that would turn out to be wrong. To tell us how the Kansas City Royals got their name, we are now joined by Bob Petersen who's in Kansas City. Welcome to the program.

BOB PETERSEN: Thank you Robert - thrilled to be part of it, thrilled to be part of history.

SIEGEL: (Laughter) Can you explain to us, speaking of history, how the Royals came to take that name when the baseball team began in Kansas City?

PETERSEN: Well, the baseball team began in 1969, but as it was being organized in 1968 by the new owner, Ewing Kauffman, he conducted a contest to determine the best and most appropriate name. The winning entry came from a gentleman, Sanford Porte, in the Overland Park suburbs of Kansas City. And he suggested, in recognition of Missouri's billion-dollar livestock industry, that the American Royal best exemplified that through its pageantry and parade, and that the new team should be named the Royals.

SIEGEL: Explain to people who don't know about this, what is the American Royal exactly?

PETERSEN: The American Royal - in fact, it's a wonderful symmetry in life because the American Royal began as a livestock show here in the old stockyards area of Kansas City 115 years ago in 1899. And today, we stand here ready to kick off our 2014 livestock show, just as the Kansas City Royals are prepared to begin the World Series run.

SIEGEL: So, you work for the American Royal.

PETERSEN: I do. I'm the president and CEO, and the American Royal today is about a lot more than just livestock. We do 30-some events here, mostly agrarian. And mostly what we're about is celebrating champions. People bring their best here whether it's their best cattle, their best horses or, in this era, their best barbecue. We're also home to the world's largest barbecue contest.

SIEGEL: (Laughter) You show the animals, and you also eat the animals.

PETERSEN: That's exactly right. We're all about food.

SIEGEL: Now, anticipating the moment when the Royals and the Giants take the field for the World Series, who's about to take the field right now at the American Royal?

PETERSEN: We have goats and lambs here on the premises today. They're just beginning to check in. We will have about 200 of each of the top competitors in the Midwest in their field. And they're coming here to vie for championships, just as they've done for 115 years. And the goal for the youngsters is really to make our auction, which happens Sunday night. Last year our grand champion steer sold for $170,000.

SIEGEL: Wow. I'm just trying to think of my limited grasp of livestock, here. You can't put a steer out to stud can you?

PETERSEN: You cannot because the essentials, he no longer has.

SIEGEL: Right. So you're just actually - is that like a fundraiser or...

PETERSEN: It is a fundraiser. It very much is. It was $170,000. It was a record number, and the exhibitor will get about half of that and about half of that comes to the American Royal Scholarship Fund. So it's a little bit of both.

SIEGEL: There's no way you could get $170,000 worth of steaks out of that steer, is there?

PETERSEN: (Laughter) No, you'll get about $3,500 worth of steaks out of that steer.

SIEGEL: Well, Bob Petersen thank you very much for talking with us and for explaining to us how the Kansas City Royals got their name.

PETERSEN: Thank you, Robert. Go Royals.

SIEGEL: OK, that's Bob Petersen, President and CEO of the American Royal. They're located across town from Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. For the record, the Giants are called the Giants thanks to the team's first owner speaking of his players as my big fellows - my giants.

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