It was the spring of 1985. I was a senior in high school. My best friend had a huge crush on a guy by the name of George Brett. You ever heard of him? Yep, he played 3rd base for the Kansas City Royals. Now when I say “crush,” I mean partial infatuation actually.
I’m not sure if it was opening day or not, but we skipped school one afternoon to go the game. Although it earned us a day of In School Suspension, it was worth it. Needless to say, the Royals went on to win the World Series that year. Yes, it was fun to be a Royals fan in 1985!
My friend and I went to the games often, paid less than five bucks for a general admission ticket, stayed after the games, chatted with the players, and took lots of pictures with them. If Facebook was around back then, we would have loaded it up with selfies with the Royals. 🙂 Instead we took our film to the Kodak booth, waited a week for it to be developed, and lined our locker with our prized pics of us and our favorite players.
The players back then seemed to play for an absolute love of the game. It was fun to watch. There was camaraderie, unity, teamwork, effort, hustle, and excitement. Thirty years ago, the highest paid MLB player was Mike Schmidt of the Philadelphia Phillies who hauled in a little over $2 million. The highest paid MLB player this year is Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers. His 2015 earnings are somewhere around $31.2 million. I don’t think I’ll even comment about that absurdity.
I took a hiatus from baseball fandom for several years. The Royals stunk it up for the longest time. They were terrible. They knew it. The fans knew it. All of KC knew it. That and the fact that cable TV has now monopolized almost all of the MLB games, those without cable (that’d be me), just drift off into the baseball-less sunset.
But it was fun to be a Royals fan in 1985. It’s fun to be one 30 years later, and I’ll tell you why. These guys seem to once again play for an absolute love of the game. It’s like watching little league boys in a grown up ballpark. They’re young, fun, aggressive, passionate, and know they have some unfinished business from last year’s heartbreaking loss in Game 7 of the World Series. Ned Yost, the manager of the team, is a fairly hardcore strategist, but it works. And he allows these guys to have their fun, yet hold up a high standard and even higher expectations.
Yep, it’s fun to be a Royals fan again. Here’s to hoping that this fan will be celebrating deep into October. (Or as those of us in Kansas City call it, “oKCtober”.)