QUINCY — Near the midpoint of this summer’s Ban Johnson League collegiate wood-bat schedule, the coach of the Kansas City Knights revealed to his players the details for an end-of-the-year all-star game.
The top 36 hitters in the final league statistics would be invited to play in the showcase game at Kauffman Stadium, home of the Kansas City Royals.
At that time, Quincy University’s Logan Voth sat 39th with a .304 average.
“I texted my roommate (the Hawks’ Tyler Carpenter), and I was like, ‘If I could just turn it on here, I’d have a chance to play,’” Voth said.
The dream of playing in the Big K served as further inspiration.
“That place is the place I fell in love with baseball,” Voth said.
It’s where he finally felt like a big leaguer, too.
The Mendon native and Unity High School graduate put together an eight-game hitting streak late in the season to finish with a .341 average, easily putting the shortstop within the league’s top 36 hitters and guaranteeing himself a spot in last week’s all-star festivities.
Voth entered the game at shortstop in the fifth inning, went 0 for 2 at the plate but turned a 1-6-3 double play in the eighth inning as his team picked up a 5-1 victory.
“That was so surreal and so nerve-racking at first,” Voth said. “That was an incredible experience.”
‘That just topped it off’
Like so many passionate baseball families who live within driving distance of St. Louis, Brad and Melissa Voth introduced all three of their kids to the professional scene with trips to Busch Stadium.
Logan admitted those have all been memorable in their own unique way.
“I got to watch Albert Pujols in his prime when I was like 3 or 4 years old,” the QU redshirt sophomore said.
His first trip to Kansas City was different entirely.
It’s where he saw his boyhood hero and future college coach play.
When Mendon native and former QU All-American outfielder Josh Rabe was promoted by the Minnesota Twins in 2006, the American League franchise happened to make a trip to Kansas City in early August. Rabe started two of the five games, collecting two hits and a home run.
The Voths made the trek to Kansas City during that series, and Logan was treated to something incredibly special thanks to Rabe.
“After the game, Rabe took me to the team bus and I got to meet Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau,” Voth said.
You just don’t forget a moment like that.
“It’s why Kauffman is so special,” Voth said.
Fifteen years later, he walked into the stadium as a player, not a fan.
“It’s been a crazy year for me, and that just topped it off,” Voth said.
‘I finally feel comfortable again’
As the Hawks’ season rolled through April and into May, ending with a sixth straight NCAA Division II Midwest Regional appearance, Voth watched from the dugout or the stands as he recuperated from a broken wrist suffered early in the spring.
“I didn’t even know if I was going to be able to play this summer,” he said.
So when he went to Kansas City, he had to endure an adjustment period. He collected hits in five of his first eight games, but was hitting .286 at the time and knew he could swing it better.
“The first few weeks were kind of iffy because I was still trying to get used to my new wrist with my metal plate in there,” Voth said.
He got comfortable and found his rhythm.
That happened at both the plate and in the field. Voth committed just three errors the entire season, turned four double plays and played without worry of injury.
“I finally feel comfortable again,” Voth said.
‘The bright lights just hit different there’
His comfortability showed during the all-star game, even if below the surface there was a cavalcade of emotion.
Due to the ongoing battle with the coronavirus pandemic, there were restrictions placed on the players during their Kauffman Stadium appearance.
They were escorted from the gate to the field through the stands. They weren’t allowed to use the home or visiting clubhouses but they were granted access to the tunnel from the dugout to clubhouse and other behind-the-scenes areas.
Batting practice took place in the batting cages beneath the bullpens, and the Ban Johnson players were treated with similar respect to the big leaguers.
“I understand why they call it the big leagues because I could only imagine going out there in a stadium full of people,” Voth said. “When I ran out there in the fifth inning, the bright lights just hit different there. My adrenalin was just pumping and pumping. I’m glad I went to the field first because that calmed my nerves when I got to the plate for my first at-bat.”
In his first at-bat, Voth fell behind in the count and ended up popping out to the third baseman.
“I just missed two fastballs and I was expecting a slider, but he threw me another fastball,” he said.
With a relatively small crowd, some of the chatter from the stands was clearly audible on the field.
“The only voice I could hear in the crowd was my brother (Hunter),” Voth said. “I heard him say, ‘Gawd, dang it, Logan.’”
It didn’t come as a shock the younger brother was outspoken, Voth admitted with a laugh.
“After the game, dad told me, ‘I had to tell him to chill,’” Voth said.
In the eighth inning, he got his brother to cheer. On a comebacker to the pitcher which Voth initially thought he could field and turn a double play himself, he took the toss from the hurler, stepped on second base and delivered an on-the-money throw to first.
“I told my dad and some of my buddies that might have been the hardest ball I’ve ever thrown to first base because my adrenaline was pumping so hard,” Voth said. “I can understand how these major leaguers, the guys who are brought up for the first time, how nervous they are.
“Those are quite some big moments in a big stadium.”
It’s a moment Voth will treasure because it occurred in a stadium with sentimental value playing the game he loves.