Bo brings down the house on All-Star Sunday
Fans in Kansas City still love, appreciate former Royal
KANSAS CITY -- Bo knows what he means to this Midwestern city, all these years later.He didn't even have to play in the Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game to be the event's star attraction. Jackson managed an American League squad that featured Hall of Famers George Brett, Rickey Henderson and Rollie Fingers, actors Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family) and Chord Overstreet (Glee), University of Kansas men's basketball coach Bill Self, American Idol David Cook and Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassell. The others drew cheers and autograph requests when they passed through a crowd to take batting practice on Kauffman Stadium's left-field concourse. Jackson all but incited a riot. "That tells me that I did something right when I was here," Jackson said. What he did was bat .250 with 109 home runs and 313 RBIs over five seasons in a Royals uniform from 1986-91. At least that's what the record books say.
But Bo was bigger than his numbers. He hit one of the most famous home runs in All-Star Game history, a blast leading off the bottom of the first inning in Anaheim in 1989 that traveled 448 feet but seemed to sail 448 miles. He delivered hits on the football field, too, during four seasons with the Raiders, most famously running over Seahawks linebacker Brian Bosworth during a 221-yard performance on Monday Night Football in '87. Nike added to Jackson's legend with its series of "Bo Knows" television ads.That legend lives today, though Jackson moves much slower now thanks to a bad hip, the result of an injury he suffered with the Raiders that essentially ended his run in both football and baseball. Actor Jon Hamm grew up across Missouri in St. Louis and was asked what it was like to meet Bo. "Terrifying," Hamm said. This comes as a surprise, considering that as television's Don Draper, Hamm is used to being the coolest guy in the room. Perhaps the problem was that Hamm was standing at third base when he met Bo Jackson, who happened to be stepping into the batter's box in the '09 All-Star softball game at Angel Stadium. "He's amazing," Hamm said. "And he's a right-handed hitter and a very, very strong man." Another fan was Stonestreet, a Kansas City native who wore a Royals cap for Sunday's event. It turns out the admiration is mutual. "I found out that he and his family are fans of the show, which is always a trip, when you find out that someone you looked up to as a kid now watches what you do," Stonestreet said. "I was a big fan of his when he was in Kansas City, and I loved him as a football player, too. I'll never forget when he ran over Brian Bosworth." Stonestreet revealed a new nickname for the skipper: Captain Jackson. The captain received a huge ovation from a sellout Kauffman Stadium crowd when he exchanged lineup cards with National League skipper Ozzie Smith. "He's a legend here, as he is throughout the world for his athletic prowess, but it's personal here," said former Dodgers All-Star Steve Garvey, whose own Major League career was ending just as Jackson's was beginning. "He's a great guy and a great athlete, but he's managing the other team, so I'm going to stop there with the accolades." Royals fans don't see much of Bo these days. He was mostly out of baseball before the '09 All-Star Game in Anaheim, and briefly visited Kansas City in 2011, when they unveiled a renovated Kauffman Stadium. He signed with the Royals after they made him a fourth-round Draft pick in 1986, fresh off a World Series title over the cross-state Cardinals the year before. A measure of his raw athletic talent, Jackson essentially skipped the Minor Leagues, playing 25 games in the big leagues that year and 116 the next. "At the time when I got drafted, the Royals were the only team to take me seriously," Jackson said. "Everybody else thought I was going to go play football. The Royals were the first team to show interest, and that's why I signed. It could have been any team that showed interest in me, and I would have gone." Having the All-Star Game in Kansas City, Jackson said, "Is good for the city, is good for the fans, is good for the economy." Truth be told, Jackson prefers to stay out of the spotlight these days. He has business interests, speaking engagements and charitable work. "I don't get to too many ballparks. I like my privacy," he said. "I enjoy life."
The 83rd Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. Pregame ceremonies begin at 7:30 p.m. (EDT)/6:30 p.m. (CDT). ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.
Fans will also have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevrolet via the 2012 MLB.com All-Star Game MVP Vote during the All-Star Game on MLB.com.