Carl St. James started his 47th year as a Royals season-ticket holder on the top of the Hall of Fame complex in left field of Kauffman Stadium with booming fireworks behind him and a sellout crowd watching on.
When the time came, he slowly and confidently raised the American League championship pennant, and then stayed through the first pitch of the opening day game against the White Sox, soaking in the moment he had been waiting for patiently the last 29 years.
“I was looking forward to opening day this year, but when I got the call that really sealed it,” St. James said.
He said the phone call started with a simple pitch from the Royals to have a long-time season-ticket holder raise the flag. St. James, who has been in the stands every season since the franchise’s inception in 1969, was immediately on board.
When the question turned to him, he emphatically answered “Yes.”
“I couldn’t believe it,” St. James said. “I didn’t have to think about it at all.”
St. James, who has not missed an opening day since 1982, said he hoped that one day he may be involved in some of the festivities, but never imagined it would be to such an extreme.
“This is it. You can’t top this,” he said.
St. James’ plan for the rest of the day was simple: watch some baseball with his wife.
The two sit in in front row of Section 230 now, within 50 feet of his old seats, and try to make at least 60 of the team’s 80 home games each season.
Although he was the one to raise the flag, he was quick to say that his wife, Mary, is the real die-hard fan. He said she never lets them give away their tickets.
Aside from her passion, there is the accountability of the other season-ticket holders that keeps it exciting for him to come to ballpark each day.
“One of the things about being a season-ticket holder for that long is that you get to meet the people around you and it feels like home,” St. James said. “If you don’t show up for a couple games, they ask where you were.”
Right before heading back to join his wife in the stands, St. James made an final offer to help the Royals raise another flag next year. This time, he wants it to be a World Series championship.
“I wouldn’t have a bit of a problem with that,” St. James said. “It would be a lot easier because I’ve been through it once.”