Brett Phillips found a home away from home.
He’s not referring to Werner Park, either.
While most baseball players find an apartment when they’re assigned to a team, the Storm Chasers’ right fielder has spent this season living in Bill and Brenda Roach’s basement in Papillion, about five minutes from the ballpark.
“They’re awesome,” Phillips said.
Former Kansas City Royals outfielder Terrance Gore stayed with the Roaches the past couple of seasons while playing for Omaha. Gore suggested Phillips connect with them.
“They’ve been a blessing. Unbelievable family,” Phillips said. “We’ve had some cookouts; some of the guys have been over. I’m thankful they’ve opened up their house to me.”
The feeling is mutual for the Roaches, who are regulars at Werner Park for games.
Brenda called Phillips their “summer son.” Bill, a longtime master’s tennis player and member of the UNK athletic hall of fame, said Phillips gave Brenda flowers on Mother’s Day.
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“There’s not a nicer guy in the world than that guy right there,” he said. “He is so stinking nice, it blows me away. He’s polite; he’s considerate; he cares about people.”
This sort of living arrangement is nothing new for the 25-year-old Phillips, who turned pro in 2012 after being drafted out of high school.
“I’ve stayed with five different host families in my career,” he said. “I’m probably the only one throughout professional baseball (to do that).”
Phillips played 51 games in the majors last season with Milwaukee and Kansas City, coming to the Royals in a midseason trade for Mike Moustakas.
But he struggled this spring. He was playing every day, but a 0-for-20 stretch dropped his average to .165 on May 24.
Now he’s batting .240 after hitting safely in 30 of his last 34 games. Heading into Thursday’s game at Nashville, he led the PCL in walks (72), was tied for first in triples (13) and was fifth in stolen bases (22).
“He’s a guy who always works hard, even when he’s struggling,” Chasers manager Brian Poldberg said. “(The slow start) affected him, but it didn’t affect how he went about his business. He continued to hustle and never said never.”
With two more home runs, Phillips can become the fourth player in franchise history with at least 20 homers and 20 steals in a season. Five of his homers have come in August.
Phillips said a small change in his mechanics has turned things around.
“It’s a minor adjustment, but it was major for my statistics,” he said. “It was the way I was gripping the bat. I think it was May 25 or 26 that I made that adjustment, and since then I’ve played some pretty good baseball.
“I’m glad the Royals have been patient with me through my struggles.”
Phillips, who is on the Royals’ 40-man roster, is hoping for another call-up in September.
Call-up or not, he already has one date he’s looking forward to this fall. His wedding is Nov. 9 in Austin, Texas. Bill and Brenda Roach already are planning to be there for the ceremony.
“I feel like they’re family, you know,” Phillips said. “They’ll be longtime friends forever.”
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April 21, 1969: Galen Cisco, left, and Jack McKeon of the Omaha Royals.
Aug. 27, 1969: The Omaha Royals' first manager, Jack McKeon, celebrates. McKeon led the Chasers to back-to-back American Association titles in the franchise's first two years. McKeon would eventually lead the Florida Marlins to a World Series in 2003.
April 18, 1970: Former Nebraska coach Bob Devaney throws out the season's first pitch at the Omaha Royals game at Rosenblatt Stadium.
May 31, 1970: Paul Splitteroff at Rosenblatt Stadium.
1970: Omaha's Juan Rios slides home safely behind Wichita catcher Ken Suarez, as Omaha's Steve McMillan looks on at Rosenblatt Stadium.
Jan. 21, 1971: Former major league infielder Loren Babe, left, with Omaha Royals manager Jack McKeon.
An Omaha Royals team photo from 1970 and other minutia collected from the remains of Rosenblatt Stadium. The photo was taken June 8, 2012.
1972: Steve Busby, Omaha Royals pitcher.
April 12, 1972: Jack McKeon at Rosenblatt Stadium.
April 6, 1973: Frank White poses for a photo at Rosenblatt Stadium.
1973: Future Baseball Hall of Fame member George Brett poses for a photo at Rosenblatt Stadium.
June 29, 1977: Clint Hurdle at Rosenblatt Stadium.
April 2, 1979: Jim Bayly sweeps snow 11 days before the season opener at Rosenblatt.
1980: Omaha Royals pitcher Eddie Bane.
July 7, 1980: Steve Busby delivers a pitch.
April 4, 1992: Jeff Conine poses for a photo.
1982: Bombo Rivera, Omaha Royals.
May 19, 1983: Omaha Royals General Manager Bill Gorman poses for a photo in front of Rosenblatt Stadium.
1984: The San Diego chicken mascot entertains fans at Rosenblatt.
1984: Gene Lamont, Omaha Royals manager.
1985: Rob Crain, assistant general manager of the Storm Chasers, with team autographed baseballs from the 1985 Royals baseball team.
April 17, 1985: David Cone sports an Omaha Royals hat and a Kansas City Royals jacket at Rosenblatt Stadium.
April 26, 1985: City employee Terry Cuevas spreads mixture of solvent and gasoline on the infield at Rosenblatt Stadium as part of an effort to dry the field enough to cover it with a tarp. The tarp wasn't laid on the field the two previous nights and got soaked in an overnight rainfall. The Omaha Royals were unable to play the game scheduled with the Iowa Cubs.
June 29, 1985: Guitarist Michael Woods of the rock band "America," which played at Rosenblatt Stadium following the Omaha Royals game with the Oklahoma 89ers.
May 10, 1985: Fans in the crowd seek autographs from Kansas City players.
Aug. 8, 1986: Gus Cherry, Mayor Mike Boyle and Jack Diesing break ground for the Stadium Club at Rosenblatt Stadium.
May 28, 1988: Organist Lambert Bartak at Rosenblatt Stadium.
May 5, 1989: CBS pro football analyst John Madden tries on an Omaha Royals cap.
Aug. 16, 1990: Omaha Royals manager Sal Rende gets a face full of cake from first baseman Russ Morman after winning the league title.
Sept. 5, 1991: Construction takes place at Rosenblatt Stadium.
1991: The final signing of the ownership papers for the Omaha Royals. Seated from left: John Boyer, Bill Gorman, Joe Adams, Mary Ann Luby. Standing from left, Rob Knight, Bill Ulrich, Jim Hildreth and Lary Wzorek. Boyer is the attorney for Walter Scott who bought a major share in the team. Gorman is the Royals' GM.
April 16, 1991: The day before the Royals open, Richard Sovereign of Sovereign Painting adds a coat of blue to the patio concession stand.
May 17, 1993: Workmen for JB Construction hurry to finish the new parking lots by Rosenblatt along 13th Street.
April 1993: Warren Buffett throws out first pitch for the Omaha Royals home opener at Rosenblatt stadium.
March 17, 1992: James Huettner welds handicap ramps.
March 13, 1992: Pictured is the South side of Rosenblatt Stadium.
April 16, 1992: The Goodrich family, from left, Nate, Barbara, Ben, Chris, 12 and Paul enjoy a game.
May 25, 1993: Rance Ristau, 3, looks like he had a good time finishing off his cotton candy during an Omaha Royals afternoon game at Rosenblatt Stadium. But Rance, son of Dan and Cynthia Ristau, saw the Royals drop an 8-5 decision to Nashville.
April 3, 1993: Scott Knight puts down new cinders in left field in front of new scoreboard.
Aug. 2, 1994: Aerial view of Rosenblatt Stadium from a helicopter.
May 25, 1994: Grounds crew removes a tarp after a rain delay.
April 29, 1995: Warren Buffett throws out the first pitch.
April 4, 1996: Warren Buffett throws out another first pitch.
May 4, 1996: Warren Buffett greets fans at an Omaha Royals game.
1999: The Omaha Royals unveil a new nickname for the team, the Golden Spikes, which is worn by mascot Casey.
June 9, 1998: Omaha's Mendy Lopez and Calgary's Lou Frazier watch the ball sale by on Frazier's successful steal of second base.
1998: Omaha Royals shortstop Felix Martinez, who was sent down from Kansas City in the aftermath of brawl with Anaheim, sits on the bench.
1998: Omaha Royals infielder Scott Leius plays at Rosenblatt with his son Michael, 2.
1998: Warren Buffett prepares to throw out the first pitch.
1998: Omaha Royals right fielder Chris Hatcher is greeted at the dugout after hitting a grand slam.
1998: Jermaine Dye, Omaha Royals.
1998: Albuquerque's David Steed is out at second base by Omaha's Steve Sisco.
Aug. 30, 1998: Mayor Hal Daub swings a mock sledge hammer at a golden spike that is held by the Omaha Royals' mascot, Casey, launching the teams new name, the Golden Spikes. The Lincoln Sport Parachute Club jumped into the stadium carrying a banner with the new name on it.
1999: Casey sports the new Golden Spikes uniform.
1999: Omaha Spikes' Sal Fasano, right, is congratulated by Ron Johnson after hitting a home run.
1999: Omaha manager Ron Johnson dines on food at home plate of Rosenblatt Stadium.
1999: Front left, Bart Thomsen, and Rick English, back left, Mike Bischof, Kent Therkelsen, Lance Beasley pose for a photo.
Sept. 6, 1999: Omaha Golden Spikes manager Ron Johnson wears a Nebraska football helmet while coaching third base.
Sept. 6, 1999: Golden Spikes pitcher Scott Mullen delivers.
1999: Manager Ron Johnson, front, talks about practice routine to players at Golden Spikes media day at Rosenblatt Stadium.