“CHALLENGE IT, NED!”
In the final regular-season home game at Kauffman Stadium, a Cleveland runner scores a controversial run to cut Kansas City’s lead to 2-1. A buzz builds in the crowd. And along the third-base line in Section 115, eight rows from the field, a solitary voice yells what everyone is thinking.
Deep, rich and resonant, it cuts through the place like a foghorn. The voice belongs to Chris Stone, who — wielding a foam finger like a fencing foil — is in full fanatical freak-out. Better known by his Instagram handle @kcsuperfan, the 21-year-old Kansas Citian is hard to miss.
He wears a cobalt-blue mohawk wig over blue-and-white-striped war paint that has partially melted in the afternoon sun. His faded, dirt-stained powder-blue Royals jersey is supercharged by shoulder pads and accented by buttons, beads and a baby-blue bow tie. A Royals World Series flag tied around his neck serves as a superhero cape that flaps in the fall breeze.
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After Royals manager Ned Yost challenges the call, Chris turns his attention to Indians skipper Terry Francona, who has bounded out of the dugout to talk to the umpire.
“SHUT UP, TERRY!” Chris bellows. “YOU HAVE A GIRL’S NAME, TERRY!”
A fan nearby nearly shoots soda out of her nose.
When the controversial call is reversed, he lets out an ear-splitting scream.
“I LIKE IT LOUD!!!” he shouts, standing and exhorting the crowd. “ROY-ALLLZ!!”
At 6-foot-2 with a slim waist, broad shoulders and an I-couldn’t-possibly-be-having-any-more-fun smile, Chris is all in for the Royals and plans to attend as many Blue October games as he can. As he jumps, screams, sings, points, dances and gesticulates, he draws both looks and laughs as one of the newest characters at the K, minted only last year in time for the postseason. Many say he’s the craziest, and quite possibly the loudest, fan in the stands.
There is something about him. Strangers high-five him in the stands and snap selfies with him in the concourse and parking lot. They pose him with their families, hand him their babies, give him free tickets.
“It’s awesome, man,” he says, flashing that grin. “I love it!”
“He is loud,” says Shelly Boynton-Marks of Raytown, who has seen him at several games. “And some people could be bothered by that. But he’s also joyous, always smiling and having the best time. And that helps you have a good time. And, hey, look at the last two seasons we’ve had. Maybe he’s our good luck charm.”
Chris is not about to claim that mantle. Then again he was at game six of last year’s World Series when the Royals dominated 10-0.
Chris came to the game with his friend Rose Mayberry and his younger and more reserved brother Andrew, also in character. Andrew wears a white mask and dark sunglasses with a dangling blue mustache, blue bow tie and suspenders, but no shirt. And — of course — the signature blue mohawk wig.
Underneath the wigs? You guessed it. Both Chris and Andrew have their real hair cut in “the Hos,” a modified mohawk popularized by Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer.
Even when he’s not in costume, his passion is on full display. Just look at his red truck. Virtually every inch is painted with slogans for the Chiefs. Other times it is painted blue for the Royals.
And look at his left hand. He wears a massive replica American League championship ring that he bought for $100 on eBay.
“I wear it too much,” he says of the shiny hunk of silver and zircons. “I wear it to class. I wear it to church. That’s why it’s so beat up. I sleep with this thing, man. I love it. In my truck I (place it) so I can see it all the time and always remember that we’re the champions of the American League.”
That means more to him than anybody knows.
When that’s the only thing you have, you put everything into it. And when you have a personality like (mine) who is all in … this is what happens.
Chris Stone, aka kcsuperfan
“People just don’t understand,” says Chris, a broadcasting major at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph. “My first girlfriend broke up with me because she asked me what was more important, her or the Chiefs or the Royals. And I was like, ‘I can’t answer that. Because that’s my life.’ I’m like, ‘You’ve been here a year, but you haven’t been there my whole life.’ ”
He’s not kidding.
So what fuels his fire for KC sports? Sitting at a picnic table in the outfield concourse after the game, he turns serious.
“We didn’t really have a social life,” he says. “So sports was life for us. We didn’t have a whole lot of friends. We didn’t even have phones back in the day because (our family) is super conservative. So it was all waiting for 7:10 when the Royals started to play, and waiting for Sunday afternoon for the Chiefs. Our whole life revolved around Kansas City sports.”
The eldest of 10 home-schooled children from a deeply religious family, he begged his parents to send him to public schools — to no avail.
He did play flag football, basketball and softball at a Christian high school. And his father, a Kansas City policeman who is also an ordained Baptist minister and former missionary in New Zealand, took his sons to see the Chiefs and the Royals.
They became Chris’ passion, his obsession, his world. One day last year he and Andrew were talking about how Chris would get all “painted up crazy” for Chiefs games: red and yellow war paint on his face, red-and-yellow outfit, the whole 100 yards.
“And we (thought), hey, why don’t we dress up for the Royals?” Andrew said. “That’s different. Because when you go to Royals games you don’t see (as many) superfans. So let’s just go all out for a game — just nuts! The reaction we got was crazy. Everyone loved us … it was so fun taking pictures with everyone!”
Their mother, Cathie Stone, wasn’t so sure about the idea.
“When he first came up with his costume, I was like, ‘I don’t know if people are going to like that,’ ” she said. “But he was positive. ‘We need to get these Royals going for the playoffs!’ he said. “I was surprised to see how many people were excited about what he was doing. I thought, ‘This could be a good thing.’ But he’s definitely crazy-looking. … It’s been a wild ride.”
His father, Kenton Stone, also supports him.
“I don’t have any problems with him going out there and getting the fans excited,” he says. “I thought it was neat when he came up with the idea.”
But not all family members are on board. His grandfather on his mother’s side doesn’t like him spending so much money on sports.
“But he’s paying for college himself,” his mother says. And both he and Andrew have worked hard at several jobs, and saved their money.
Chris says he doesn’t have a choice.
“My whole life, that was all I had,” he says. “When that’s the only thing you have, you put everything into it. And when you have a personality like (mine) who is all in … this is what happens.”
And as big a Royals fan as he is, he might be an even bigger Chiefs fan.
“I get up at 7 a.m. on Sundays on my only day off,” he says. “My Chiefs room is a shrine. The walls are gold and red. Before games I bring all my Chiefs stuff and I put it in another room. Then I get candles and burn (them) all the way around the outside. Takes me four hours to set all that stuff up. And I do that for every single game, even preseason games, cause that is all I have, man. People don’t understand.”
There’s one thing he wishes people did understand.
He and Andrew may be young. But they are no Johnny-come-lately Royals fans.
“We remember (staying up till 2 a.m.) listening to 12-inning games when we were 30 games under .500 and 20 games out,” he says. “So this is not fair-weather stuff. When people call me a fair-weather fan that’s the only thing that ticks me off. I’ve shed my tears for these teams just like everybody else.”
And now, he says?
“We deserve everything we get,” he says. “Every single cent!”
At the Cleveland game, Tricia Nociti, a lifelong Royals fan who now lives in Nashville, has the seat directly in front of Chris. When she turns around and sees that he is kcsuperfan, she smiles and blurts out, “I follow you on Instagram!”
“No, really?” Chris says. “That’s so cool.”
Nociti’s son, stationed in South Korea with the Army, found kcsuperfan online and sent his mother his picture, saying, “He may be a bigger fan than you!”
Chris figures he’s gone to about 40 games this year, many with Andrew, all in character.
He got his tickets to the this game from another Royal superfan — Jimmy Brough. Dressed as a construction worker, the 42-year-old Topeka car salesman wears his signature pinwheel on his hard hat. His posse? Pinwheel Nation. Brough sees kcsuperfan as a younger version of himself.
“There are so many good Royals fans out there who want to scream and yell and get fired up, but they’re apprehensive to do so alone until they see Chris or another character do it. Then it’s circle the wagons and support our team. I’ve seen it where three sections around him get up and start cheering just because of the passion he displays.”
And for one more time at the K, he would see that passion rewarded.
Ninth inning. One out to go. Royals 3, Indians 0.
As a warm wind tousles his fake blue hair, he pokes his foam finger triumphantly skyward as the last out is made.
“This,” he says, smiling and soaking in the moment, “this is life, right here.”