09/07/2012 12:08 PM
When the T-Bones announced their 10th anniversary team earlier this season, the list included Ray Brown, who played first base for Kansas City from 2003-2005 and set a number of records during his time with the team. Brown ranks fifth all-time in games played, total bases, extra-base hits, RBIs and on-base percentage. His great years were with the T-Bones not anomalies, either; he batted .318 over a 12-year minor league baseball career. Upon returning to CommunityAmerica Ballpark this summer, he reminisced with Ashley Dunkak of tbonesbaseball.com about his time in Kansas City and his career in general.
Q: How does CommunityAmerica Ballpark look different now than it did when you played here?
RB: There’s a lot of new sponsors on the walls, and the Buck O’Neil sign. What used to be the $1,000,000 hole is now $100,000, but a lot of it is pretty much the same. Same atmosphere, good atmosphere. It’s a good place to bring your family and cheap prices, so it’s a good place for the areRB: Obviously, when I first got here, the Cabela’s and Nebraska Furniture Mart were the only stores here. All of the Legends hadn’t even started to be built yet.
Q: What kind of growth did you see from the fan base over the first couple years the team was in Kansas City?
RB: From the start, they came out in big crowds and it really didn’t matter if we were winning or losing. It was just the atmosphere, the cheap food and drinks, and the little sideshows, free parking. If you live in the area, it’s a lot cheaper to stay here than it is to go out to the Royals. In 2004 we had a winning year, and I think we still had the same crowd as we did in 2003 or 2005.
Q: In the T-Bones' media guide that first season, 2003, you are listed as a “player coach.” What was that role like for you?
RB: I was kind of a quiet guy, so I did my coaching on the field, just by example I guess. I wasn’t really a coach. I was more of a player who led by example.
Q: What do you remember about playing for former manager “Dirty” Al Gallagher?
RB: He’s definitely a player’s manager. He lets his veterans kind of discipline the other players. He was kind of laid back. I was young and, I guess, cocky and we used to get in some battles a little bit. Just in the dugout, heat of the moment, during the games, I would second-guess some of the calls he’d make. We were both just trying to win. He was a good manager.
Q: Where did you learn your swing?
RB: My dad changed me when I was a little kid to left-handed, and he sent me to a lot of baseball camps, and then he opened up a batting cage when I was in high school, so he pretty much groomed me to be a baseball player, and I saw my brother play when I was a kid, so that drove me to want to do well.
Q: What made you decide to retire after the 2005 season, when you batted .305?
RB: After the T-Bones released me, I had a couple other offers to play on the East Coast, but just my injuries were getting to me. I was working out and I hurt my Achilles, and I just kind of figured it was time to retire.
Q: What advice would you give to current players, young guys who are now in the same position you once were?
RB: Just to never give up. I’ve seen a lot of guys I’ve played with that I never thought would do anything end up making it to the majors. They just kept working hard, got a break, someone got hurt, and they were in the right spot at the right time. You can make it to the big leagues.