Excitement builds at Royals FanFest

Excitement builds at Royals FanFest

KANSAS CITY -- The Royals stamped "success" on their FanFest weekend, which ended Sunday.

"It's good for our entire organization, from the players to the front office, and it's nice to see the turnout and the passion that the fans have for the team and the organization," Royals president Dan Glass said. "It reinforces what we're working for, which is to be a model organization."

The weekend began with the renewal of the Royals Awards Dinner, which drew about 400 fans on Friday night. The FanFest got off to a rousing start on Saturday with about 5,500 attending.

"We were just so excited to see the big, big crowds come through, especially on Saturday. We matched last year and then some," said Toby Cook, vice president of community affairs and publicity. "We had about 9,500 people come through this year, and it was about 9,400 last year. A hundred more bodies in this economy is a success, and we're very excited about it."

There were about 25 players plus coaches and Royals alumni participating.

"We had a much better fun and energetic presentation on the stage, from the time we started to the time we ended," Cook said. "Unbelievable support and cooperation from the players, and they seemed to have a great time with the fans."

He noted that the players not only appeared on stage and at autograph and photo sessions but also mingled with the fans in clinics and on the floor.

"People got up close and personal, even more so than they did last year," Cook said.

The players took note of the upbeat atmosphere of the event.

"It's been pretty awesome, actually, to see how excited these fans are," said new first baseman Mike Jacobs. "It's really impressive."

Manager Trey Hillman was impressed by something else -- how fit most of his players looked at the FanFest.

"That tells us a lot and tells the dedication of the offseason program," he said. "Luke Hochevar's put on 15 pounds of muscle, Kyle Davies looks great, Billy Butler looks much better, Mike Jacobs is a specimen, Coco [Crisp] is almost two months into his workouts in Arizona. These guys are dedicated."

And the official opening of Spring Training is just 25 days away.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.