Kansas City designated hitter and unofficial crossing guard Billy Butler was part of the Royals caravan that visited Black Elk Elementary School on Friday morning. Also on the caravan were second baseman Johnny Giavotella, pitcher Greg Holland, Royals Hall of Fame first baseman John Mayberry and broadcaster Joel Goldberg (who snapped the Butler photo).
The group visited Black Elk because Joel Nigro, a student at the school, drew the winning bookmark design for a reading program sponsored by the Omaha Storm Chasers.
We'll let the students handle the questions for the players, who were a big hit.
Student: What other sports did you like to play growing up?
Butler: Basketball and football.
Goldberg: Were you any good?
Student: How's it feel to be a major leaguer?
Mayberry: It was a great feeling. Sometimes I felt like I had a (Superman) “S” on my chest.
Giavotella: It was a dream come true for me to put on the Royals uniform.
Holland: It's been a lot of fun. And to do it for a living is very rewarding.
Butler: It's something I worked for all my life. It's a great feeling to go to the ballpark.
Student: Do you have a nickname and how did you get it?
Butler: Country Breakfast. I like to eat a big breakfast.
Student: What baseball player did you like growing up?
Butler: Chipper Jones.
Holland: John Smoltz.
Giavotella: I was a Yankees fan (scattered boos from the kids) so I always liked Derek Jeter.
Mayberry: I liked Al Kaline, and I always appreciated Jackie Robinson.
Student: What's your best memory about baseball?
Butler: Last season I hit a two-out, two-strike home run in the ninth inning to tie a game against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Holland: My big league debut in Oakland. I got a ground ball to get out of a bases-loaded jam.
Giavotella: My first big league game. My family was all there.
Mayberry: When I was 17 and had just graduated high school, I signed my (major league) contract. I had 38 cents in my pocket, so it was a turning point in my life.
Student: What was your favorite book growing up?
Holland: “Moby Dick.”
Giavotella: “Casey at the Bat.”
Butler: “Green Eggs and Ham.”
Goldberg: That figures.