After a 29-year hiatus, the Royals return to the World Series has many reflecting on the last time our boys in blue won it all. Guest blogger Greg Franklin shares his personal experience of returning home to Kansas City just to be amongst Royal friends. I was fast asleep in my bed when my father jostled me awake. He was full of the sort of nervous, frantic energy that made me slightly fearful for my life, like the roof was on fire. "Greg! They're coming back!" My eyes fought through the sleep and widened. It was not over yet. 29 years ago, I ran upstairs in my pajamas with my dad to witness the Kansas City Royals fighting back to tie and eventually win in the bottom of the 9th in Game 6 of the 1985 World Series. I was 9 years old. The next night, I got to stay up late (on a school night, no less) and watch the Royal drubbing of the St. Louis Cardinals and see our beloved Kansas City Royals win the World Series. I remember the final catch, and Saberhagen leaping into Brett's arms, like it was yesterday. Kansas City, our peaceful little village, was the center of the universe for a minute, and it felt incredible. 29 years later, those lights are fired back up on my hometown.
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29 years later,
I live in Seattle, WA. My return to Royals fandom was brought on by nostalgia for those glory years, by memories of going to games with my parents and listening to games on the radio. Early in my move to Seattle, my homesickness manifested itself in missing Denny Matthews' warm voice, but also, missing the familiar strains of things like Price Chopper and Hy-Vee commercials. (Nostalgia latches onto strange things sometimes.) I wander around Seattle wearing a Royals cap, and I'm often greeted with "Are you REALLY a Royals fan? I've never actually met a Royals fan!". I wear it as a badge of my hometown pride, and more often than not, am stopped on the street by other Kansas City ex-pats who are thrilled to see a familiar sight in foreign lands.
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29 years later,
I've managed to attend Royals spring training (a lifetime dream of mine) and took my Canadian nephews to their first baseball game ever, where the Royals soundly defeated the Mariners. Before my in-laws (Mariners fans, through and through) could get to them, I bought all of the boys Royals caps, much like my father did for me when I was a small fry. One of the nephews sleeps with his cap beside him every night, and wears it every time we Skype with them. (It's practically part of his head.) We also tore through the stadium before the game and gathered autographs from the Royals players, unknowingly collecting the signatures of the team that would go on to the World Series. 29 years later, I've attended numerous Royals games in Seattle in full KC regalia, and (thanks to modern technology) have watched over 100 Royals games over the course of the 2014 season. To watch this scrappy team from front to back of this season, to see the underdogs get a shot at the big game? It has been an incredibly special thing to witness.
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29 years later,
the Kansas City Royals won the American League pennant, and I booked a plane ticket home with tears of joy (and slight relief) in my eyes. I'm always proud to tell people that I'm from Kansas City, but I absolutely could not be stuck watching this moment in a basement in Seattle, away from my hometown and my best friends during a Kansas City Royals World Series. I don't have a ticket to the World Series, but I have the next best thing; the opportunity to go watch games every night with my oldest friends, and to step outside after a Royals win and hear the fireworks, hear the shouts, echoing throughout every corner of a city practically united in their love for this team. I couldn't pass up the chance to be in rooms full of people decked out in Royal blue, cheering, high-fiving, and hugging, waking up their sleeping kids after a giant hit much like my father did years ago, and knowing that this same story may get written in another two decades (but hopefully sooner!). Seeing all of this through the eyes of a 38 year old man, watching a bunch of people younger than me who missed out on this feeling the last time it happened, is incredible. It's a reminder of the power of not only sports, but of the true positive energy of Kansas City, and it's absolutely contagious.
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29 years later,
I can't describe how good it feels to be back home in Kansas City, watching the leaves change over during an absolutely breathtaking fall, celebrating not only the success of this baseball team, but the simple pride of years of wearing that Royals hat in places all over the world and proudly answering people: "Yes, I am from Kansas City".
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