It’s a stretch to call Jimmy Faseler a kid, but it’s hard to imagine anyone could have enjoyed bellowing “play ball” before the Royals’ 2015 season opener Monday at Kauffman Stadium more than he.
After all, Faseler, a Royals super fan known for his “Bringing the Thunder” bare-bellied dance celebrations, almost didn’t live to see the season.
Faseler, 29, walked in on a burglary in progress at his Independence home March 20 and was shot in the stomach.
One of the alleged robbers — Dylan Thompson, 16, of Independence — was shot and killed during the break-in.
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Two other men — Phillip A. Kisner, 41, and Dustin Donlan, 18, both of Independence — were arrested and charged with second-degree murder and burglary.
Nobody seemed to mind that Faseler, who was on a ventilator and unable to walk barely two weeks ago, drew duties as the Royals’ official “Play-Ball Kid” for opening day against the White Sox.
“I’m a kid at heart, right?” Faseler said.
Faseler, who still sports his trademark orange beard and couldn’t wipe the smile off his face if he tried, walked with a cane Monday. He has a dark circular scar just left of the middle of his infamous belly, where a 40-caliber bullet tore into him.
There’s a long surgical incision running the length of his abdomen, which is being held together by a series of staples, where doctors repaired his small intestine and colon.
“It could have definitely been worse …,” Faseler said. “I guess now I’m known as the guy with the wounded belly.”
Faseler said he’s been asked not to talk about the case, which remains under investigation, but he said he wasn’t as terrified as one might expect during his ordeal.
“For whatever reason, I just kind of had this confidence that I was going to be OK,” Faseler said. “The whole time, I knew I was going to be OK. I just knew I needed to call the police and get help as quickly as possible. I knew the hospital would be able to take care of me.”
The staff at Truman Medical Center pulled through for Faseler, who was flanked by his surgeon, Deirdre Hart, and physical therapist, Teresa Durkin, at Monday’s game.
“They’re my friends now,” he said.
Both were delighted to accompany Faseler to the Royals’ opener, especially so soon after his brush with death.
“He was pretty lucky he made it out of surgery,” Durkin said.
Hart added, “He recovered amazingly well and very quickly.
Faseler credited support from his family, church and the community at large for his rapid turnaround.
That includes the Royals community.
Faseler said Royals fans have been “so supportive — everything from just reaching out to me to starting a GoFundMe account to help me fund my medical expenses.”
The fan-created and -supported fund has raised nearly $15,000 so far.
“It’s definitely going to help in a lot of ways,” Faseler said.