The “C” You In The Major Leagues Foundation and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City (Blue KC) have announced Royals Hall of Fame shortstop Freddie Patek as the August Blue KC Coaches with Character honoree.
“I’m honored and surprised,” said Patek, who, after retiring from Major League Baseball in 1981, has spent almost 30 years investing his baseball wisdom in younger generations as a little league coach in the KC Metro. “I love working with the kids. It’s incredible to be recognized for helping them enjoy the great love for the game and learn responsibility, teamwork, how to be a role model and how to set a good example.”
Patek was nominated for Blue KC Coaches with Character by his daughter, Heather Rehkow, who has observed the impact Patek has made on his players—including her own sons—over the course of his nearly three-decade coaching tenure.
“He has mentored hundreds of boys and given his time volunteering season after season,” said Rehkow. “His love of the game and knowledge has been priceless for so many, and I have been truly blessed that he has coached both my sons. He selflessly has given his time for so many years, and I feel it’s time that he was recognized for it.”
From 1971 to 1979, Patek was a staple at shortstop for the Royals, earning three All-Star nominations and helping the Royals capture three AL West titles from 1976 through 1978. Known for his defense and speed, Patek led the AL in stolen bases in 1977 and was referred to by manager Whitey Herzog as the best artificial turf shortstop he ever managed.
“When thinking about the Royals history, Fred Patek is not only one of the best shortstops to play for Kansas City, but one of the greatest men of character ever to put on a uniform,” said Dayton Moore, Royals GM and Founder/Executive Director of CYITML. “He’s faced tremendous challenges and setbacks in life, but instead of blaming anyone or feeling sorry for himself, he’s simply persevered. Any young athlete who’s played for Freddie during his nearly 30 years of coaching learned from one of the best, on and off the field. It’s humbling to be able to help select him as the August honoree.”
Currently coaching little league in the Blue Springs area, Patek draws on his Major League experience and personal values to help his players develop a strong work ethic, positive attitude and mental maturity.
“I try to teach kids that life is full of setbacks, but that they can be strong, show up a winner and give 110 percent,” said Patek, who played in four American League Championship Series during his MLB career. “If you get knocked down, always get up and try again.”
As a Blue KC Coaches with Character honoree, Patek will join the six coaches who have been honored throughout the season at an event on September 11 at Kauffman Stadium. The season’s Blue KC Coaches with Character honorees will join Moore and Blue KC representatives at a pregame reception in a private suite before being honored on the field prior to the Royals game against the White Sox.
In honor of Patek as the August recipient, Blue KC is making a $2,000 donation to CYITML.
“It’s encouraging to see former pro athletes like Freddie use their experience to invest in the next generation,” said Christina Lively, Department Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Blue KC. “At Blue KC, we are passionate about our community, and it’s our privilege to bring recognition to someone who has made Kansas City a better place to live, work and play since 1971.”
The final Blue KC Coach with Character will be selected in early September. Those who would like to nominate an amateur coach for the Blue KC Coaches with Character program are encouraged to visit CYouInTheMajorLeagues.org/bluekc.
At “C” You In The Major Leagues, our vision is to develop a youth baseball academy and character-based baseball leagues that will inspire tomorrow’s leaders, help families in crisis, promote education, and support faith-based programs and ministries.