The first time I met Joel was a mere seven weeks before I broke my ankle. Kaylea and I made a day trip to KC to attend the Dressed to the Nines Day in 2015. We got to the stadium early, not making any stops on the drive north from Springfield, and entered as soon as the gates opened. The Royals played the Yankees — they won the game with a shutout — and we were invited to be part of the Royals Live pre-game show. Our job was simple: stand behind Joel and Monty and Dressed to the Nines Day co-founders Brett and Brad and smile — Kaylea in her striped dress, me in my blue vest and straw hat. For at least a couple years, Dad had the pre-game show saved on his DVR.
Joel has worked as part of the Royals broadcast team for the last decade. His best day on the job came in September of 2014.
“The Royals clinched their first playoff berth in 29 years. The only thing that stands out is Salvy catching the final out. You could feel it. I don’t remember anything else from the game, just the final out and taking a picture with Alex Gordon after all the celebrations.”
If you’ve watched the broadcasts over the past several seasons, you know that Joel has become quite adept at dodging post-game Salvy Splashes.
“Salvy takes those quite seriously. He will accuse me of giving it away if I move too quickly. I’m much quicker to move when it’s cold out, which leads to a potential hamstring pull. And I’m much more willing to hang in there on a hot summer afternoon.”
Joel, a southpaw, played some baseball growing up, into his early teens, and played soccer through high school. The Phillies and Pete Rose were his first favorite team, which means we had different responses to the 1980 World Series. He also gave me advice on ordering a cheesesteak if I ever make it to Philly.
I was honored to be Joel’s catch-partner for his first game of catch this year and asked several questions about being a broadcaster and life as a sports journalist.
“Much more important than any interview, answer, or question is building trust and relationships with these superstars who are just human beings, who are just like you and me. When you build that rapport over time, when you spend time focusing on that relationship, the interviews become better, they become real conversations. It’s all about relationships.”
Joel could have been speaking these words about Catch 365. For me, playing catch is about establishing trust and making new friends, creating sacred space where honest conversations about life and hopes and dreams can take place.
During the off-season, Joel does a lot of public speaking. His big dream for 2018 and beyond is to continue to grow and learn as a speaker. Since I think of myself as a storyteller, I asked for his best advice.
“Be yourself. Plain and simple. It really does work for everything in life. Don’t try to be someone else or pretend to be something more. What I do on TV every day, the greatest job ever, is just me being me. Of course there are people better than me, but there’s no need for comparison. Just be yourself.”
Joel’s speech is titled, “Making a splash with championship culture.”
The Royals have a three-game winning streak heading in to tonight’s game, the first one I’ll see in person this season. I’m hoping to watch Salvy share the splash culture with Joel.