Everything in my city was blue. Royal blue, to be exact. It happened the first time in October 2014, when the Kansas City Royals went to the World Series for the first time in 29 years. Until college, I spent my entire life in Kansas City, and while we have always liked our sports, I have never seen anything like what happened that October.
The fountains ran blue—literally. Entire buildings sparkled at night with blue lights. Every store you walked into seemed to feature an ocean of royal blue paraphernalia. Stands were popping up in the street to sell Royals gear to excited fans. My own collection of Royal blue gear doubled in a matter of days. Every television in every restaurant in the city was tuned in for every game, and the watching crowd would roar and groan in unison as we watched the drama unfold.
It was more than just a color or a sudden upturn in baseball interest. It was a feeling, a passion, a sense of hopefulness. The city burned with it. Everyone seemed to be banding together behind a common cause—and our hearts broke together when we fell just short of achieving the dream.
Flash forward a year to October 2015 and another World Series. Kansas City had come so close the last time that they could almost taste the victory. We wanted it bad. This was our team, and we were going to cheer them all the way to the end. Everything turned blue again, and then, we did it. We won. In Kansas, time literally stopped. Schools closed. Businesses closed. Everyone turned out in one massive force to honor our conquering heroes’ homecoming.
Even though I was all the way in Tennessee in the midst of studying, I kept up with the games and their scores. Being hundreds of miles from my hometown did not stop me from screaming in delight when that final game ended and headlines about the Royals winning the World Series started flashing across the screen. It was one of those days that will stay with me forever.
Now, here we are, with another season of baseball upon us, and as a recent trip to Kansas City reminded me, Royal fever is stronger than ever. You walk into any gas station, you are basically guaranteed to see a jersey or a baseball cap with the name and logo of the KC Royals emblazoned upon it. Hotel after hotel is popping up around the KC Royals’ home at Kauffman Stadium. They are necessary to support the crowds the team now draws.
I know it sounds like insanity, but as a Royals fan, it was utter magic. While Kansas has had its fair share of glory in college basketball, I grew up with the knowledge that Kansas City’s pro sports teams just were not dream team material. Oh, we all rooted for the Royals and Chiefs out of sheer loyalty, but every year, we would get our hopes up, cheer on our boys and have those hopes dashed once more.
Then, along came this team of KC Royals who somehow seemed to capture the very essence of Kansas City: likable, genuine, straightforward, hard-working, grounded, humble family guys who were also incredibly good at the game they played. We loved them, even before we realized that they would be the ones to finally bring us that long-allusive World Series victory. They were our boys in blue. We supported them, and in turn, they brought us closer as a community.
That was—and is—the most beautiful part of the journey the KC Royals have taken me and all their fans on over the last couple of years. They bonded our community together in a way I have never seen before. For just a little while, regardless of socioeconomic status or political leanings, we were all on the same team, and that sense of community has not gone away.
Some of my favorite fall nights were spent at our favorite local Mexican spot, scarfing down bowl after bowl of espinaca dip and salsa, eyes glued to the television screen. The tension and excitement in the air was palpable. It felt utterly exhilarating to be watching this team come seemingly from nowhere to become something incredible. It was like witnessing our very own miracle.
For long-time fans, it felt as though they were finally, at long last, achieving something that they had only ever imagined. For those “band-waggoners” who hopped on the Royals train at the last second, they felt as if they were jumping into the sort of fairytale story that you should see on the movie screen, not in real life. I think we all realized that what we were experiencing was once in a lifetime.
Flash forward again to this year. It’s a new season, but Kansas City (and all of us Royals fans around the globe) are still standing behind our boys. We took the crown, but that does not mean we are ready to quit or back down. We are ready to go another round, and we are more excited than ever. We love our boys in blue. We believe in them and are anticipating another year of bonding, screaming and cheering our boys all the way to the ultimate victory.