Royal Radio Affiliate Spotlight: [KAWL AM] York, Nebraska

[editor's note, by royalsreview] In honor of Denny's HOF Induction, here's a blast from the past, the first Royal's Radio Affiliate Profile, originally posted last summer.

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One of my favorite things about baseball, in a cultural sense, is the way that certain teams take on regional identities. Having criss-crossed the Midwest many times, its always a joy to scroll through the AM dial with the possibility of listening to the Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Twins, Reds or Indians depending on where I happen to be. In a homogenized, often generic world, these sports loyalties sometimes seem like all thats left of an older, more regionally diverse America thats floated away. The regional pull of the Royals isn't what it used to be -- we all know how many casual fans the Cardinals have claimed back in Missouri in the last decade -- but it isn't wholly erased either. Throughout the season I'll be profiling some of the more far-flung Royals affiliates that together compose our regional fan base. The next time you're listening to the Royals in metro KC, think about the expanse of space thats united under the dial...

York, Nebraska- Population: 8,000ish

Located just off Interstate 80, about 63 miles west of Lincoln, lies the charming village of York, Nebraska. Despite being 241 miles from Kansas City, thanks to 1370 KAWL AM the citizens of York can listen to Royals baseball. KAWL is also a proud member of the University of Nebraska Sports Radio network.

According to the official City of York website, York boasts a population "just over" 8,000 (give us the truth York, how many is it!?!?) and combines the best of small town and city living. According to the US Census, the population of York is actually below 8,000, at a more modest 7,796. Moreover, York is proud of its Middle America status, proudly stating, "York is the heart of the nation." (Take that Omaha!) Of the 93 counties in Nebraska, York County boasts the 20th largest population, with an estimated total of 14,397. York county is 52% female and 96.8% white. Only 6% of families in York are below the poverty level, beating the national average of 9.2%, however the average income figures are below the national average.

No, not that York.

The town has a nice baseball history, as York was home to the York Dukes of the Nebraska State League in the 1920s. The decade before, the team played under the name "York Prohibitionists" thanks to the nickname of a Fremont reporter. The old baseball field where the team played is still around, and is happy to be photographed. For more on York baseball, click here.

York is also home to York College (founded 1890) a small private school affiliated with the Church of Christ. After chatting with York students and faculty about their favorite Royals (I'm sure the girls think Minky is a total cutie), a visitor can take in a game of golf at the York Country Club, home to this unique hole:

Hole #17 a 269 yard par 4. There is an tree in the middle of the fairway. Plus this tree is located on a island that is also in the middle of the fairway just less than 100 yards from the hole. This makes for a tricky tee shot and a tough approach.

I'd give anything to play that hole. If I could play it while listening to the Royals on the radio, well, I might be so deliriously happy that I might ritualistically execute myself upon the hole's completion. Its good to end on a high note.

Just outside of town you can visit the Wessel's Living History Farm, which was recently visited by one of my favorite poets, native Nebraskan and former US Poet Laureate Ted Kooser. For more on Kooser, click here.

Every year York High School crowns the Duke and Duchess of York. I'm sure at least 10% of them have been Royals fans, but I can't prove it.

You can listen to the Royals while fishin' out at Recharge Lake just outside York. Recharge was created in 1990, and is one of the most beautiful natural wonders west of Omaha.

As far as I can find, no native born Yorkian has ever played in the Major Leagues, nor has any player ever retired and died in York.

Lastly, in early March of 2004 I spent the night in York, during the second day of a long trip from LA to South Bend Indiana. Caught in a snow storm, I had no idea where I was, only that it was possibly deadly to continue driving. Later that night in the motel room, I looked over my receipt and saw that I was in York (or close to York). I never saw the town proper, only the strange, fairly awful 60's-era motel room. I remember getting up early (7 AMish) the next morning due to the half-hour I would need to scrape ice off my truck. An irrational fear of the Omaha I-80 traffic also fuelled my early rise. And so, I said goodbye to York quite quickly.

If any readers are from York or the surrounding areas, I'd love to hear more about the city, its people, its history etc.

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