In this Giants ocean of orange and black, Justin Salazar of Lee’s Summit is being battered.
“Go home!” a San Francisco fan tosses out.
Yikes, the third game of the World Series hasn’t even started yet. The guy’s just walking outside AT&T Park.
“Kansas City sucks!” another says.
“Hey, clown, go back to the circus.”
But Salazar, 36, who works for the Social Security Administration, is just smiling, waving nicely.
“Good luck,” he says, because, frankly, who cares?
Salazar is here. He is here at Friday’s game three of the World Series, dressed from cap to socks in a full 1985-style Kansas City Royals uniform to support the team he has loved since childhood.
“I don’t mess around,” he says. “I’m here to represent.”
He is joined by hundreds of other Royals fans, a mass from Kansas City, other states, even from overseas, in a park where Giants fans are friendlier by far, even gracious, than the ones berating Salazar outside.
Section 334 in left field looks like a corner of Kauffman Stadium, saturated in blue. Many Royals fans here have spent thousands of dollars for ticket and airfare, food and hotel rooms.
The phrase “once in a lifetime” is repeated.
“These are my boys. I need to be with my boys,” says Mary Tyrrell, who, along with her husband, has been a season ticket-holder for three decades. Flights from Kansas City to San Francisco were so packed, she and her party woke up at 3 a.m. to drive to Omaha, Neb., to make it here in time.
In Section 324, Row 2, Terra Littleton, 24, a grade school art teacher from St. Joseph, holds up a sign.
“I skipped parent-teacher conference for this.”
True, she did.
“It’s art. They all have As. They don’t need to talk to me,” she says, laughing.
Christopher Mallot, 29, born and raised in Hays, Kan., but now living and working outside of Palm Springs, Calif., flips through his phone pictures. He finds it: a photo from 1985. He is an infant, sitting on his mother’s lap as she watches the Royals in the World Series.
He feels so linked to the Royals that, in January — January — he asked for time off for the 2014 World Series because he was so convinced this would be the Royals’ year.
Nothing was going to keep Aaron Befort, 31, and his buddies away. He and Aaron Bradley, 36, and Danny Slavens, 30, grew up together in Lenexa. They’ve been in Los Angeles for 10 years working for the same nonprofit.
In high school, they would skip classes to watch the Royals. In the cold of December, they once camped out in the parking lot of The K just to be first in line to get tickets.
So, are you kidding?
Kansas City scores again.
“Let’s go Royals!”
Yes, they were going to be here.
“This feels like home,” Slavens says. “It’s home.”
To reach Eric Adler, call 816-234-4431 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.