Friday, November 6, 2015

Just a Girl From Kansas City Who Loves Baseball

For many years my friends have asked which was my favorite team, and for the same many years I have smugly replied that I would never need to chose. A Cubs Royals World Series? I was not concerned.

This year the questioning became more intense; this year those two teams both ended up in the post season. When the kids at school jeered at my Royals hat I assured them that this wasn't necessary, the Royals were not the enemy. Children who attend school down the street from Wrigley Field had trouble understanding that idea.

There was never a choice. I love the Cubs, I love Wrigley Field and the neighborhood we call home. I love the roar of the crowd from the front porch, the traffic on game days and odd smell that emanates from the ball park in August. I love Ernie Banks and Ron Santo and Mark Grace. But I was raised on the Royals.

My grandmother taught me the words to "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" as we walked to our car in the parking lot of the old Municipal Stadium in Kansas City. The Royals belong to my grandfather and his lap that held me when Brett's fly ball escaped the right field wall. The Royals are Nana's, games broadcast from the old transistor radio on the front porch of her Ward Parkway apartment. The Royals are my dad's team, the suite level seats and the stadium club and Sunday afternoons entertaining clients from the third base side. The Royals are the hat that I tossed back to Dad when I announced I was too old for baseball caps, the skinned knees from running down the winding ramps, LC's BBQ in the parking lot, and the baby blue t-shirt I wore until it shredded. The Royals are my team.

This year I got to share them with everyone. When they won Sunday night I was not in Kansas City but 500 miles away, down the street from Wrigley Field, celebrating in my living room. When they won thirty years ago I was at Kaufman, on the third base side, with my dad, my grandfather and my sister. That win was youthful exuberance, this one was emotional childhood reliving joy. It was simply the best.

Kansas City usually sits at the back of the class, working quietly and diligently. It doesn't scream out; there are cities far more exciting and brightly colored. It's consistent and reliable and comfortable. Kansas City is my old shoe, the train that always arrives on time, the place that will always be home.

This team plays that kind of baseball, the kind that draws you in and holds you until the very end of the game. They quietly and consistently cross the plate, not by firework spouting home runs, but by working together to put players on base and bring them home. The Royals play Kansas City baseball.

I love baseball, and I write about it here.

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