KANSAS CITY, Mo. – There won’t be any holding back for Royals broadcaster Rex Hudler this season.
After what even he described as an often rocky first year in the Royals’ booth in 2012, Hudler vows to be more himself this time around.
That translates into even more enthusiasm, energy and sometimes over-the-top adventure from Uncle Hud.
“Look, it was a tough first year and I’m not going to lie about that,” Hudler said by phone. “I was the new guy and I got kind of beat up. But I understand why. It’s hard for people to accept change. We’re all like that.
“And then you add in the 12-game losing streak and the 10-game home losing streak, the fans were upset. And it’s easy to take that frustration out on me. Fans weren’t used to me or my style. They had to vent somehow.”
And vent they did. Royals fans lit up the Kansas City talk shows with complaints, some of those vicious, about Hudler, as did bloggers and virtually any fan with a Twitter account.
“That’s when I decided to tone it down,” Hudler said. “And I’m glad I did. It took a while, but as the team started to win a little bit more and the fans got used to me a little more, they gave me a break.
“But it took until after the All-Star break before they cut me some slack.”
That’s when, Hudler recalls, he began to ramp up his on-air game again.
“I started having a little more fun again, being me,” Hudler said. “Look, I can’t help it. I love going to the ballpark. I love doing what I am doing. I love baseball. I can’t hide that. Things come out of me….it’s all very natural. I’m not faking it.
“I know I get a little crazy but that’s just my passion for the game and the team I cover. I started being myself a little more in August and it felt better. And really, that’s what the organization wanted. They wanted me to be me. They wanted the guy they hired.
“So, that’s who I am going to be from the start this time and I don’t think I’ll ease up.”
Hudler said he has two vital elements going in his favor this time around as he enters season No. 2 with the Royals.
“First, I’m way more comfortable,” he said. “I know everyone now. I know the team. I know the organization. I know the fan base. I know people around town. It just makes you feel more at ease. That’s going to allow me to just let it rip and be enthusiastic.
“And also the team is going to be better. No doubt in my mind.”
The Royals’ horrific April last year virtually blocked any chance of Hudler having a likability factor.
“Oh, the fans, they let me have it,” he said. “But what they didn’t know was that I was miserable, too. In all my 21 years as a ballplayer, I had never been through a 10-game home losing streak to start the season. To me, it was unreal. How does that happen?
“So, I remember just being so depressed because of the losing. I used to stay up in the booth for 45 minutes after games just trying to get over losses. It was the worst feeling.
“This year is going to be different.”
Hudler, who is in the second year of a three-year deal with FSKC, is so enamored with Kansas City he decided to move here from California with his wife and four children. His family has settled into a home in Overland Park, Kan., and his oldest daughter, Alyssa, is a freshman at Kansas.
“It’s official – we’re Midwesterners,” Hudler said. “I love it. Hey, this was a big move for our family. My wife gave up her dream house in California. But this is where we belong. This is good for us. The schools, the people, the fans – everything is terrific here.