Bearing the torch - Olympic fire crosses Missouri
Thursday, January 10, 2002
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Baseball figure Buck O'Neil greeted the Olympic torch as it arrived in Kansas City Wednesday, continuing its winding course that included earlier Missouri stops.
Hundreds of people lined 18th Street waving American flags as runner Joshua Moore carried the torch on its first leg through the city's historic jazz district.
Moore, a 22-year-old musician from Manchester, Vt., jogged two-tenths of a mile to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, where O'Neil and another runner awaited.
O'Neil, the first black to coach in Major League Baseball, led a crowd of about 100 in singing, "The greatest thing in all my life is loving you."
The torch meandered through downtown before reaching Union Station where the Rockhurst High School pep band played and hundreds more cheered the flame.
Runners were to carry the torch toward its final Kansas City stop, the Country Club Plaza Wednesday night, where a celebration was scheduled featuring fireworks and music.
Hall of Famer
The torch arrived in Missouri Tuesday, and Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith of the St. Louis Cardinals carried the flame into downtown's Kiener Plaza and a crowd several thousand strong.
Once on the stage, Smith -- with an assist from St. Louis Rams quarterback Kurt Warner -- lit a cauldron celebrating the flame's short stay in St. Louis. Fireworks lit the sky over the Mississippi River.
On Wednesday, the torch stopped in Wentzville before moving to Columbia.
Many crowding Kansas City streets said the torch and the patriotic games it represents have taken on more meaning since the Sept. 11 attacks.
"I think it's pretty appropriate that the Olympics are in the U.S. this year," said 41-year-old Freda Mullins, a nursing student from Blue Springs.
On today, the torch heads to St. Joseph and into Nebraska, then arriving Friday in Topeka, Kan.
The flame's tour began Dec. 4 in Atlanta and includes 46 states over 65 days. The journey, featuring about 11,500 runners, ends in Salt Lake City at the Feb. 8 opening ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Games.