Dec. 21, 2012

Day 6

Day 5

Day 4

Day 3

Days 1 & 2

Not in Kansas Any More


The Kansas Jayhawks are spending eight days in the Dominican Republic. Kansas will play eight games during their trip, mixing in charitable efforts along the way. Head coach Ritch Price (pictured below) will check in each day with thoughts on the journey.


(Photo by Jeff Jacobsen/KAI)


Day 7 – Friday


Despite the fact that we dropped the final game of the road trip, 6-3 today, I was really proud of our club. I was proud of our comeback and I was proud of the energy in our dugout and the way we grinded through the ballgame. To get down 6-0 early and then have a chance to tie it in the ninth inning with the bases loaded speaks to the resiliency on our club.


The highlight of the day for me was to see Frank Duncan on the mound. This was the first time he’s made a start for us this fall, because he’s been rehabbing his shoulder. Obviously, he is our top returning pitcher and one of the top returning pitchers in the Big 12. In order for us to be successful this season, Frank’s going to have to go out and have a good year.


I was pleased because his velocity was back; he was sitting between 89-91 and his breaking ball was really good. His command wasn’t as good, but to see him go four innings today and give him something positive to build on is huge for our program.


I’m a big believer in saying thank you. One of the things that we ask our players is once you graduate and you’ve gotten a job and bought your home, is to give back to the University of Kansas. One of the greatest ways that you can do that is to pay your scholarship back and a lot of my players have done that throughout the years.


With that being said, I’d like to thank the Kansas City Royals and the Cleveland Indians for giving us the opportunity to make this a once-in-a-lifetime baseball trip. They allowed us to train at their facilities; to have the practice fields given to us has allowed us to make incredible progress over the course of this week as we prepare for the upcoming season.


At the same time, I wanted to combine community service with the baseball this week and I wanted the players to give back to this community, give back to this country and the kids who are also chasing their dreams of playing professional baseball. The poverty here will put a tear in your eye. The activities that our players were involved in from visiting the orphanage to the clinic that we ran to dropping health kits off in the villages, these are things these people are going to remember and cherish for a long time. It was also a testament to my players when they came together, decided that they wanted to sponsor a young man at the orphanage we visited and came up with the money to do so.


Still, the highlight for me was visiting the villages on Tuesday. To distribute the health kits; to have people say thank you; to have the people follow us around and help us push the bus when it broke down, it was one of the most amazing experiences that I’ve ever been involved in.


I think that any college coach that has an opportunity to put a trip together, I don’t know if there’s a better way to sell community service, life-learning skills, leadership skills and the process of teaching the game of baseball than to make a foreign tour like this. I want to thank Sam LeBeau from Dominican Baseball Camps. He organized all of our activities and all of our community service events down here, he provided all of the tour directors down here that speak Spanish and has set up the visits. He’s a big-time guy. He’s hosted several teams over the years and he’s made this a once-in-a-lifetime trip and I can’t think him enough.


Finally, after the ballgame, I raced back to the hotel and like any baseball coach, I checked the weather. It looks like all of our players should make it back to their destinations tomorrow without any weather issues. We had the goal that we want all of our players back in their hometowns and with their families by tomorrow evening and it looks like we’re going to reach that goal.


My Assistant Athletic Director, J.D. Loudabarger, and I have an early wake-up call tomorrow. We start with a group that is leaving this morning at 3:30 a.m., in order to fly back to Hawai’i. The rest of us head out through Atlanta tomorrow in the afternoon. It’s been an important trip for the development of our team and it’s been a great week to be a Jayhawk. Rock Chalk!