We don’t normally runs guest posts on the blog. (Who am I kidding? We’ve never run a guest post on the blog.) But in the days since the Royals WON THE WORLD SERIES, we’ve gotten a strong amount of email. Fans old and new have reached out with some exceptional stories.
(I think that all references to WINNING THE WORLD SERIES should be in all caps for at least a year.)
Obviously, there are a huge number of fans who are in their 30s. They grew up hearing about the glory years and as a reward got to watch Mark Redmon, and Ken Harvey, and Kerry Robinson. If you turn back the clock a couple of years, it’s difficult to understand why this generation of fans so loved the Royals when they were never loved back. Credit to those who stood by this team. The win on Sunday was extra sweet for those who suffered through the 100 loss seasons and are experiencing a championship for the first time.
Dave Hettrick is one of those fans. He grew up in Lee’s Summit and has been a fan his entire life. Yes, he was alive during the ’85 World Series, but he was so young, he probably doesn’t remember much. Never mind. Like many around his age, his roots to Royals fandom start with one Bo Jackson. Why not? Bo was amazing. He just arrived at the wrong time to play a part in the Royals postseason.
Anyway, Dave wrote some nice words that we thought would resonate with those experiencing the bliss of the championship for the first time. He’s moved away from Kansas City, but he will never leave. Experiences like his are what make the last year and a half so special. I’m sure we have many more readers who can relate. He’s agreed to let us post them here.
You can follow Dave on Twitter at @dhettrick.
In 1989, I watched Bo Jackson hit a homerun to lead off the all-star game on a small black and white TV in Tennessee while on family vacation. At the time, as an awestruck baseball loving 9 year old, I had no idea this would be my last great Royals memory for nearly 25 years.
In 1994, I watched as the Royals had an incredible 14 game winning streak. Major League Baseball literally cancelled the season exactly one week later for the players to go on strike.
In 1998, I worked as an usher where I was lucky enough to work the section immediately behind home plate where all the players’ families and Royals scouts (including super scout Art Stewart) sat. It was the best job I ever had. The Royals lost 89 games.
In 2001, while away at college, I discovered the Kansas City Star updated their website every night at midnight. This meant I could read all the Royals stories online about 8 hours before they were in the newspaper the next morning. The Royals lost 97 games.
In 2004, I started going to Royals Spring Training (and have gone every year for the last 13 years!). They were predicted to have their first great season in years. The Royals lost 104 games.
In 2005, I was working for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. The Royals had an embarrassing 19 game losing streak. The Tonight Show writers would call me into their office every afternoon and torture me by reading the Royals jokes they had written that inevitably made it into Leno’s monologue. The Royals lost 106 games.
In 2008, I went to New York to watch the Royals and for the last season of Yankee Stadium. The Royals shockingly beat Rivera in the 9th to win the game but for some reason Yankee fans were still overwhelmingly nice to us. After the game, a fan let us know it was because we were the Royals. Yes, it was “cute” that Kansas City had a team, but they were no threat to the mighty Yankees. The Royals lost 87 games.
In 2010, I bought the MLB package so I could now watch nearly every Royals game on my computer (as I have every year since). The Royals lost 95 games.
In 2014, 25 years after Bo Jackson’s homerun, I found myself in shock as I flew back to Kansas City (twice!) to watch the Royals finally in the playoffs (including witnessing the greatest Wild Card game of all-time).
And then it happened….
In 2015, THE ROYALS WON THE WORLD SERIES!
For people that aren’t from Kansas City, it’s impossible to understand just how shocking this World Series victory is and how much it means. For the past 25 years, not only were the Royals the laughingstock of baseball, being relegated to the last 15 seconds of SportsCenter, but really, most of the time, it felt like we were playing an entirely different sport.
While it absolutely kills me that I haven’t been able to be back in Kansas City this week – and that I’m missing the championship parade today – it’s very clear this journey has been about so much more than baseball. It’s been about life. It’s been about giving me a reason to call my Dad from 2000 miles away for no other reason than to talk baseball for two minutes. It’s been about learning how to get back up after you’ve been repeatedly kicked down (we refer to that as the Buddy Bell years). It’s been about texting with Brady during every game for the last three years. It’s been about forging a life-long bond with five friends every year in Spring Training, when no matter the Royals team, optimism abounds. It’s been about moving to a different city but being able to still leave a part of you at home. And most importantly, as the 2015 Royals so clearly showed the world, it’s been about never giving up.