GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Royals super fan and comedian and actor Rob Riggle was in Spring Training camp over the weekend, giving his 9-year-old son George some final preparation for his first Little League game on Monday while affording Riggle his annual opportunity to live out his baseball dreams."Every time I
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Royals super fan and comedian and actor Rob Riggle was in Spring Training camp over the weekend, giving his 9-year-old son George some final preparation for his first Little League game on Monday while affording Riggle his annual opportunity to live out his baseball dreams.
"Every time I come, the Royals are always very, very nice, and they're gracious enough to let me and my son and my family walk around here, which is kind of a fantasy camp for me," Riggle said. "Just seeing the players and the coaches, everybody here -- it's very familial in a way."
Riggle is part of that family these days. The Shawnee Mission native who made his mark as a stand-up comedian and is known for roles on everything from "Saturday Night Live" and "The Daily Show" to appearances in "The Hangover," "The Office" and "Modern Family" is a lifelong Royals fan who makes a regular pilgrimage to Surprise each spring.
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Sunday was special due to the appearance of a Royals family "favorite uncle" also appearing in camp as a guest instructor.
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"Today was probably one of the coolest days I've had," Riggle said. "Bo Jackson was here. To see him in the Royal blue again was pretty fantastic. And just to talk to him and meet him. He was so nice to my son. It was a great morning."
One of Riggle's responsibilities in his role as special guest comedian is to prognosticate on the fate of the Royals in the coming season.
"You hear people talk about rebuilding," Riggle said. "It is what it is. But I think the guys are motivated. I was watching them yesterday in practice, I watched the game yesterday. They're playing inspired. They're playing motivated. They seem to be having a good time. If they can relax and have some fun, I expect good things. But, you gotta remember, I always predict us to win the World Series every year. It worked out there in '15!"
Jason Hammel couldn't ask for much more out of his Cactus League debut. He threw a perfect pair of innings in a 10-3 victory over the Reds, striking out two with the other outs coming on soft popups.
"Good heaters, a couple good changeups, some sliders -- kind of threw it all out there just to gauge where it is, and so far, so good," Hammel said, noting he revised his two-seamer grip over the offseason. "Definitely want to get the ball on the ground. I know it was weak contact, like popups, but the two-seamer's going to be a big thing for me this year, and I need to get that back, because the homer hurt me last year."
Jackie, Buck … Who's next?
Kansas City took a small step to continue its legacy of pioneering social change through baseball when the Royals invited RISE to speak to the players in the Major League Spring Training camp about the importance of registering to vote.
RISE -- the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality -- was founded by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross as a means of using sports to improve race relations and drive social change. They began working with student-athletes, the NFL and the NBA on their voter registration initiative last year, and the Royals are the first MLB team they've visited on a quest to reach every club this spring.
"Several players as well as the head coach were registered to vote today," said RISE spokesperson Erin Pellegrino.
Negro Leagues Baseball Museum director Bob Kendrick joined RISE to speak to the Royals Sunday, citing Jackie Robinson's leadership in leaving the Kansas City Monarchs to serve as the catalyst for the social advancement of the country and the embodiment of the athlete as role model.
"Buck O'Neil, who co-founded the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and was a great baseball player in his own right, talked about the fact that as a grandson of a slave he got to be a part of the change and then he got to live long enough to enjoy the change that he helped to impart," Kendrick said, pointing out that O'Neil's own father wasn't allowed to vote in his hometown of Sarasota, Fla., while O'Neil met with presidents and used his voice into his 90s.
"It's important that we carry on that legacy," Kendrick said. "It's important the work that RISE is doing to push this kind of initiative out there so that we can galvanize more people to exercise their right to vote in this country."
After a day off Monday, the Royals send Nathan Karns out for his first Cactus League start as Kansas City hosts the Padres at 7:05 p.m. CT.
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com.