Boyle Rotary Club meeting
By DAVE FAIRCHILD
Boyle County Rotary
March 3: Lexington Legends
Keith Elkins, director of broadcasting and media relations, gave Danville Rotarians an overview of the Legends’ history and a fun, focused introduction to the clubs 2017 season.
Elkins serves as the Legends’ play-by-play broadcaster on radio for all the home games. He is also heard on pregame, halftime and postgame shows on University of Kentucky basketball broadcasts from the UK Sports Network. He is a former television sports anchor and reporter with WLEX-TV.
Keith characterized the Legends baseball team’s entertainment focus as “fun in the ballpark.” The home games are played Whitaker Bank Ballpark, located at 207 Legends Lane, directly adjacent to the Northland Shopping Center.
Getting baseball back to Lexington was not easy. Several attempts were made, starting in 1984, but funding a new stadium was a show stopper for all five attempts. Finally in March of 1999, a group of private investors committed to finance a stadium and purchase the franchise rights for a minor league team.
The Legends are a minor league class A team affiliated with the major league Kansas City Royals. The minor league system has four components: triple A; double A; and class A, and Class A is comprised of two divisions: Class A-Advanced and Class A.
The Legends are in the North Division of the South Atlantic League. The Wilmington Blue Rocks are the next step up the development ladder-a class A advanced team. Legends players usually advance to the Blue Rocks, but can jump directly up to the major leagues.
In 2017, the Legends will play 70 home games at the Whitaker Bank ballpark. The park sits 6,000 fans and games run about two and a half to three hours.
There are pregame and postgame events and many games include special events, like “Bark in the Park” when people can bring their dogs; “Meow on the Mound” for cats; and, to make sure everybody is covered, there is also “Pig in the Park.” 2017 will also include Harry Potter day on May 12; mother/son super heroes on May 22; father/daughter day on June 26 and Star Wars night on July 7.
The Legends currently have 29 former Legend players in the major leagues. One of those former legends, Ben Zobrist (who was voted into the Legends Hall of Fame in 2009) was on the Kansas City Royals in 2015 when they won the World Series. After the season, Ben was traded to the Chicago Cubs and was voted the Most Valuable Player of the 2016 World Series win by the Cubs.
Bobbleheads of Ben Zobrist will be available at the ballpark on April 24, 2017. Bobbleheads for Glenn Hubbard (a former Legends and later major-league player, now back as a Legends coach) will be sold on June 26.
Of note to people in the Danville area, the Legends had Jacob Bodner, a graduate of Boyle County High School on the team in 2015, but this year Bodner has moved up to the Class A advanced team in Wilmington, North Carolina.
The Legends believes in community outreach. Local Boy Scouts, and at a later date Girl Scouts, are invited to a campout on the field, which will include a sleepover and a movie. The Legends hold a Breast Cancer Awareness Night to raise funds through an auction of pink jerseys and pink bases. The Legends’ military appreciation night includes an auction of camouflage jerseys to benefit Military Missions, a local non-profit organization that supports troops in a variety of ways.
Every nine weeks during the school year, 19 students from William Wells Brown Elementary School are awarded the Legends Character Award — it is a motivator to the students to demonstrate good behavior and to have a great attitude. The ninth-grade students from the STEAM Academy have been participating in a project-based-learning unit on developing a concept for the underutilized space now known as the basketball court area.
The Legends provide the opportunity for a local non-profit to be featured during each home game. The non-profit gets a table on the concourse, and a game radio interview is held to help promote and inform the public about their organization.
The Wounded Warrior amputee softball game takes place every year on military appreciation night prior to the Legends baseball game. The Guns and Hoses softball game is another fan favorite. The local fire department squares off against the local police department in a softball game and then home run derby. The loser takes home a toilet bowl seat and the winner receives a trophy.