Leave it to a Kansas City Royals superfan like Brett Winningham to notice the name of a certain college on the royal-blue background of manager Ned Yost’s post-game press conferences.
Living in Lamar, Mo., a town of about 4,500 north of Joplin, the 23-year-old had been thinking about college. He’d never heard of Metropolitan Community College, but once he did, thanks to the Royals, he decided to find out more. He then applied to MCC, was accepted and hopes to start here in Spring 2018.
We learned about this through a Twitter exchange in late June that involved then-Chancellor Mark James, who was reacting to a picture of Yost answering questions at his news conference.
Winningham, an active tweeter (@KC_SEASportsFan), told the chancellor how he discovered MCC:
When we caught up with Winningham later by phone, he told us more about his plans. Besides being a devotee of baseball (Royals, Miami Marlins, Seattle Mariners), he’s also into motorsports. Actually, he acquired the racing habit after a change in cable companies in his hometown meant no Royals, only St. Louis Cardinals.
Left with that alternative, Winningham watched Cardinals games for one season and then started watching NASCAR. His dad had taken him to his first race when he was 11 or 12.
But it has turned into something of a career for him. He started a racing podcast and blog when he was in high school, and he has since become a writer and editor for the Speedway Digest website. He has media credentials that let him cover NASCAR and ARCA events at Kansas Speedway, Gateway Motorsports Park near St. Louis, and Iowa Speedway near Des Moines.
Perhaps ironically, Winningham doesn’t own a car himself or have a driver’s license, although he plans to remedy that. When he was younger he wanted to be a racing crew chief but dropped the notion after taking an auto mechanics class.
“I don’t work on ’em, but I like to watch ’em race,” he says.
He now has two sets of career aspirations: He’d like to become an elementary teacher, and he’d like to further develop his sportswriting skills. For the teaching part, MCC’s associate in arts in teaching degree sounds good to him.
When he asked around, “(I) heard nothing but good things about MCC,” Winningham says. “Even a former high school teacher of mine who taught in the Kansas City area at one time said some of his students attended.”
Although there are other colleges closer to Lamar, “I want to be in a big city like Kansas City.”
After earning his associate degree, he will probably transfer to Missouri Southern State University in Joplin. And after that, he’d like to move to Seattle.
Incidentally, his parents named him Brett after George Brett and Brett Favre. His dad is a longtime Royals fan; his mom, a Green Bay Packers fan. He attended his first Royals game when he was 4 days old. He played baseball “really well” growing up and might have become a good pitcher but got a late start at that.
He is also a collector of MLB game-used memorabilia. He buys a ball at every major-league game he goes to, and he “ballhawks” — arriving early to monitor “secret spots” around the stadium “where I wait for toss-ups from players or get them off the bat.” He likes getting balls during batting practice and giving them to youngsters. (The racing version of this is picking up race-used lug nuts along the pit road and handing them out to kids, which “totally makes their day.”)
Meanwhile, Winningham continues to watch not only the boys in blue but also the post-game press conferences, which are live-streamed at royals.com. “I’m positive they’re the only team that does this.”
As for the MCC name and logo in the background, that’s something new this season. The College’s marketing partnership with the Royals also includes mentions during each radio broadcast and “a high-profile (MCC) message behind home plate.” The eagle-eyed future MCC student has noticed those, too.
“I can’t watch a Royals game at home without looking for the little signs now,” he says.