Nebraska Coach Darin Erstad, left, will throw out the first pitch Saturday night in Kansas City.
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Huskers Will Set College Night Record in KC

By NU Athletic Communications

 Randy York's N-Sider

Sometimes, the last one in becomes first and best at the same time, and that’s what Nebraska will accomplish in its first ever "Huskers Night at the K" Saturday night in a 6:10 p.m. game against the Boston Red Sox at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals will honor Big Red fans while KC continues its amazing ride to relevancy. Talk about timing. The baseball gods are kicking in full force, and Nebraska will set a College Night record with a sellout of its 5,100 ticket allotment for this special promotion night that will feature two Husker MLB All-Star players, each owning multiple Gold Glove Awards.

To help celebrate the Huskers’ initial experience in Kansas City’s special College Nights, Darin Erstad will throw out the first pitch, plus join the Royals’ telecast crew as an in-studio guest. “I’m not surprised we sold a record number tickets,” said Erstad, Nebraska’s head baseball coach whose family purchased nearly 50 tickets of its own. Jessica Erstad, Darin’s wife and a member of the UNL Alumni Advisory Council, was the driver behind such support. “We’re excited to show our support for Alex Gordon, his teammates and the entire Royals’ organization,” Jessica said.

Michael Stephens, Nebraska’s assistant athletic director for Marketing and a former member of the Royals’ marketing team, said the Huskers’ first College Night is the result of collaboration among Athletics, the Alumni Association, the Office of Admissions and the Huskers Athletic Fund. “The experience will benefit our fans, current and prospective students and even donors,” Stephens said. “We have a huge alumni base in Kansas City, and with the way this special promotion has gone, this should become an annual event that we hope can become even bigger.”

Collaboration Takes College Night to a New Level

Derek Engelbart, UNL’s Director of Alumni Relations, said the first 1,500 Husker fans through Gate B with Nebraska-specific tickets Saturday night will receive a red-and-white baseball cap with a KC insignia. Engelbart said the Royals “have done a great job” of trying to reward other Husker fans with some sort of gift. “We’ve taken College Night to a whole new level, and it has been a unique collaboration,” he said. “I love the way it all unfolded and the way we’ve all worked together.” Amber Williams, UNL Director of Admissions, agrees. “This is an excellent event, and we’re happy to be part of it,” she said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for Kansas City to see the pride and the passion of our alumni, fans and students. We’re excited that we can have representatives available throughout the event, so we can answer any questions a student might have about UNL.”

Chris DeRuyscher is a primary catalyst for Nebraska’s maiden voyage into College Night at the K. In his 13th season as the KC Royals’ Director of Event Presentation and Production, DeRuyscher and his skilled team are at the cutting edge of game day production. DeRuyscher oversees all aspects of CrownVision, the largest high-definition video board in Major League Baseball. His team recently won the Golden Matrix Award for Best Production in Major League Baseball, Best Production in Professional Sports, and Best Show Open. He also received the President’s Award, and CrownVision won its second straight Best Open Show last year. Did we mention that DeRuyscher, a native of Germany and a high school graduate in Leavenworth, Kansas, received his bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Journalism and Mass Communications at UNL? Before joining the Royals, he worked at HuskerVision for four years, giving him the training and the ingenuity to create a world-class standard.

Kansas City Still a Strong Recruiting Foothold

“I knew that Nebraska would be a huge success and had the potential to blow everyone else out of the water,” DeRuyscher said. “No fan base steps up to a challenge better than Nebraska’s, and once the word was out, I knew we’d crush the record.”

DeRuyscher contacted Huskers Sports Network General Manager Dave Witty, who directed the Royals’ Baseball Network before joining IMG College. Witty contacted Nebraska Executive Associate Athletic Director Marc Boehm, who wanted to seize the opportunity to set a record. “Thankfully, Nebraska saw the importance of the opportunity and jumped all over it,” DeRuyscher said before adding that his alma mater understands how important it is to keep a strong recruiting foothold in the Kansas City area.

“I enjoyed every second I spent at Nebraska, every second I spent at HuskerVision and love doing anything I can to help promote the University,” DeRuyscher said. “With our huge fan base here, Alex Gordon’s success and the team’s surge, we’re all very excited not only for Saturday, but for the future as well. I hope Husker fans continue to pack the stadiums for years to come!”

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