The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


July 10, 2012

MSSU drum line performs 3 days at All-Star festivities

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Among the number of Joplin-area connections during the 2012 MLB All-Star festivities, perhaps the most visible — and most audible — came from Missouri Southern.

Royal Thunder, a drum line from MSSU, was seen and heard before, during and after the Futures Game on Sunday, the Home Run Derby on Monday and the All-Star Game on Tuesday. This week gave them their biggest stage yet at Kauffman Stadium.

“The All-Star Game is something we kind of set our sights on a couple years ago and I think the Royals had that in mind also,” said Brian Fronzaglia, Director of Athletic Bands and Director of Percussion Studies at Missouri Southern. “They wanted to make sure we had some in-house entertainment and we just happened to be what they were looking for.

“To come up here and play on this big of a stage is phenomenal.”

Fronzaglia said it was about four years ago when someone with the Royals contacted him out of the blue. The Royals were looking to assemble a drum line for the celebrations to unveil the newly-remodeled Kauffman Stadium. After that, the Royals wanted to scale it down. And MSSU was happy to oblige.

“We went through some negotiations and talks and came up with a format where they wanted a smaller group, which ended up being the Missouri Southern drum line,” Fronzaglia said. “The last two years they’ve utilized us pregame, postgame, during games, out in the tailgating lots.

“It’s something that grew from a grand idea that then got scaled down. But it’s a lot bigger in terms of what we do.”

Royal Thunder is signed up to perform in 19 games this season, including the All-Star festivities. Fronzaglia said much of what they do will be used in the fall, particularly when the same group gathers for the NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships come to Missouri Southern.

Royal thud

Things couldn’t have gone much worse for Royals fans, as far as on-field performance. It was almost like the team’s rough road trip to end the first half of the season followed Billy Butler — Kansas City’s lone All-Star representative — into the game.

Butler was cheered wildly when he stepped into the on deck circle in the bottom of the sixth with one out. Those cheers turned to groans when Miguel Carbrera grounded into a double play to end the inning.

Butler then led off the bottom of the seventh with a ground out to third, which looked to end his evening.

He did get one more plate appearance in the ninth but struck out after an eight-pitch at bat against Pittsburgh’s Joel Hanrahan.

Butler, already a star in Kansas City, saw his popularity skyrocket during Monday’s Home Run Derby, when fans chose him as the hero to Robinson Cano’s villain.

Former Royal stars

As if things Royals fans needed something else to remind them of their disappointing season thus far, former Royal Melky Cabrera went 2-for-3 with two runs and two RBI and was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.

Cabrera, who had a banner year in Kansas City last season, was traded in the offseason to San Francisco. Kansas City, in return, got pitcher Jonathan Sanchez.

Sanchez, of course, has struggled mightily this season.

Gordon sighting

Kansas City Royals outfielder and leadoff hitter Alex Gordon was in attendance at the All-Star Game, roaming the outfield.

Well, sort of.

During the bottom of the fourth, Gordon was in the fairly deserted Outfield Experience, riding the carousel with his toddler son, Max.

Gordon is coming off a Gold Glove season and, since being moved back into the leadoff spot on May 27, is batting .329 with 16 doubles.

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