Thank You, Royals!

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Thank You, Royals!

We all could see this coming.  We knew that the core of young players was going to become free agents and that we were, most likely, not going to be able to afford to retain them.  We knew all of this and it still hasn’t dulled the pain most Royals fans are feeling this last weekend of the 2017 season.

For my generation of Royals fans, this is all we know of what good baseball looks like.  I was alive for the 1985 World Series team, but I was only two months old.  The earliest memories I have of the Royals are George Brett getting his 3,000th hit and watching the Royals beat the Mariners, 4-1, a day after my birthday in 1993.  I remember Brett hitting a single in his final at-bat and the 1994 season.  That’s what I remember of winning baseball in Kansas City save the 2003 season.  Yet I remained a fan.  Going to watch this team despite the losing, hoping for something good, having faith that, someday, they’d bring joy back to Kansas City.

That is exactly what this group of players did and that’s why this weekend is so hard.

The memories of this team we will always have.  In 2013, the Royals gave us a reason to hope when Justin Maxwell drilled a walk-off grand slam in the home finale, giving the team their first winning season since 2003.  We all know what happened next.

However, the memories I’ll remember are sharing these moments with my family and friends.  In 2004, when it seemed the Royals had a real chance of winning the division, my brother and I said we would go to a postseason game.  That dream was destroyed when they started playing that season. 

Ten years later, my brother couldn’t join me, but, my seven-year-old daughter could.  I got the tickets to the Wild Card game the day of.  Then I picked up my daughter from school and we made the two-and-a-half-hour drive from Jefferson City to The K.  My daughter got up to the gate and told the guy scanning the tickets “This is my first playoff game”.  The guy responded, “It’s mine too”.  The guy was about my age (I’m 32).  Once inside, it was an atmosphere that I had never felt.  It was electric and as blue as the sea.  Every pitch, every hit, every moment Royals fans hung onto.  After the improbable comeback to tie the game, it felt like an out-of-body experience.  Then Salvador Perez sent a ball just past the outstretched glove of Josh Donaldson and the rest is history.  That night I heard the cheers of “Let’s Go Roy-als” through the night sky coming from The K.  Strangers hugging and grown men crying.

When Wade Davis struck out Wilmer Flores to end the 2015 World Series, I yelled and screamed like a little kid.  I looked at my wife, who hadn’t grown up a Royals fan but they became her team, and she had her hands clasped over her mouth with her eyes starting to water. 

This is what fans will remember more than the moments.  It was sharing the moments with their kids, their neighbors, it was bringing a community together as evidence of the 800,000 people who showed up at the parade.

This weekend, we remember what these players did.  They’re more than just players on a baseball diamond.  They’re part of the community and always will be.  The took a franchise and rose it like a phoenix from the ashes.  The created a new generation of fans who will be Forever Royal.

Thank you, Royals, for everything.  I can’t wait to see what the next chapter brings.

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Author: Christopher Till

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