Lou Piniella as my favorite player and learned what the numbers 1 through 9 signified. It was here that I developed a passion for a summer day at the ballpark, warm and sticky, with 9 innings and a blank scorecard in front of me, in anxious anticipation for the 7th inning stretch. It was here I sat, between my father and grandfather, topped with a Royal Blue ball cap, Cracker Jack in hand, ideally happy for many a summer day.
Once again I am ideally happy. Once again the game of baseball is the star.
In the twenty nine years since the Royals last played in the post season I have grown too comfortable with the idea that the glory days of Kansas City baseball might have passed and that the Royals of my youth, George and Hal and Willie, might just be the only names to remember. My annual visit to Kaufman Stadium became more of an opportunity to share my childhood with my girls than one with any expectations for great baseball. Far too many stories began with "remember when Freddy Patek...?". (No one did.)
I've never been so deliriously happy to be completely wrong.
Playing the kind of baseball that is incredibly fun to watch, putting together runs like puzzle pieces, and behaving like genuinely good guys who are just as excited to be winning as their fans are, the Royals are headed to the World Series. This team that together only hit 95 home runs in the regular season has now swept two teams and won 8 straight post season games, putting together runs pitch by pitch. The team that has not one super salaried star but plays together like they've been doing it since 1985 (even though most of them were not yet born in 1985) is showing everyone what scrappy baseball looks like and why it works. The Royals are making baseball a team sport once again and we are enjoying every stolen base.
When the Royals moved from Municipal Stadium to Kaufman, we moved with them, summer days now spent in section 306, third base side.It was here that I announced to my Dad I was too old for the baseball cap he had dropped on my head, here that my grandfather saw his last game, and here that I watched, with my dad, Grandfather and sister, the Royals win Game 7 of the 1985 World Series. My view has changed; Royal blue cap on head I'll watch every game of the upcoming series with three new seatmates, not in section 306 but 500 miles away, remembering how great it is to be a Royals fan and loving every minute of this amazing year.