It’s fair to say that no matter where in the world Matthew Goff lives, he will be a lifelong Royals fan.
Goff, an Olathe East graduate, moved from the Kansas City area about a decade ago, and he always followed the Royals as best he could. Thanks to MLB.com and MLB.TV, he’s been able to watch many of their games in France.
“It is very challenging being a Royals fan abroad,” Goff wrote in an email message. “In France, games start around 2 a.m., so it is a challenge to watch. The last part of the season, I’d wake up to the highlights and condensed games.”
In fact, he was on vacation with his wife and two sons in the south of France during the playoffs.
“I chose our hotels to make sure we had solid Wi-Fi,” Goff wrote. “My wife and I would stay up and watch the games and have a few quality beverages while the kids slept in the next room. Used up both of our data plans and then some on top of the Wi-Fi.”
While Goff was thrilled when the Royals won the World Series, his love for the team grew a few weeks later when he received a care package from the team.
Of course, he would rather have not been in need of a care package.
However, on Nov. 13 Goff was at the Bataclan concert hall, the site of the terrible terrorist attacks on Paris. While crawling to safety, he was shot in the leg.
Goff, 36, was on the floor of the concert near the back and said he instantly recognized the sound of gunfire. Goff took “a few precious steps toward the emergency exit before everyone had to hit the deck.”
The escape seemingly took forever. Goff said he advanced a few feet every time the gunmen reloaded. At times it felt like he only moved inches.
While on his way out, Goff was shot in the left leg. He wrote, “I had to use the final rush of energy to crawl out. I was so close to getting out but was so tired.
“A bit of a cliche, but I told myself it wasn’t going to be the last time that I saw my kids. And it wasn’t. I kept inching forward despite the layers of people piling up as everyone crawled out.
“The final few feet felt like an eternity, but someone grabbed my hand and pulled me out of that place. I couldn’t walk and managed to roll to the side before the stampede of people ran out.”
Goff was in the hospital when Amanda Turk of the Royals sent him a direct message on Twitter. A friend had alerted the Royals to Goff’s frightful experience.
“I can’t imagine being a person going through what he went through and then being his children and trying to understand what happened,” said Turk, who is the Coordinator of Community Affairs and Publicity. “So we wanted to support him and his family, too.”
Goff was shocked and excited to hear from the Royals.
“I was lying in the hospital, bored of being there,” Goff wrote. “I was watching a YouTube replay of Game 4 versus the Astros (of the ALDS) when Amanda from the Royals sent me a direct message. I felt like I was an 11-year-old boy for a brief second — kind of a surreal moment.
“She teased me, saying how everyone including the Glass family was thinking about me and wanted to send me a little something to cheer me up. A few days after I got home, their lovely package showed up. My kids really loved the hoodies the team sent. The entire thing was very well planned and executed. And the personalized jersey is pretty awesome!”
Goff tweeted a photo of the care package:
“You want to take that opportunity to help somebody,” Turk said. “He’s a big Royals fan and it’s something that he’s passionate about. It’s something we wanted to we could do to help with his recovery.
“This is home, but Paris is home for him right now. … Whatever we can do to help him recover faster.”
For Goff, it was another example of what makes the Royals so special.
“It meant a lot to me that the Royals reached out right after the butchery in Paris happened,” he wrote. “It really shows that the entire organization embodies the spirit of the 2015 team. Just like (last year when Eric) Hosmer and company buy drinks for fans, the Royals organization takes care of their fans and community.”
Remarkably, this wasn’t Goff’s first brush with terrorism. He was just outside the World Trade Center in 2001.
Perhaps even more remarkably, Goff said he is “psychologically in a fine place.”
And while he was grateful for the Royals, he also had wonderful things to say about Parisians.
“Feels like something that would happen in the Midwest ... one wouldn’t expect kindness from strangers in the city,” Goff wrote. “But both in NYC after 9/11 and Paris after 11/13, I’ve seen the true soul of each city. Quite a beautiful (yet different) human spirit both cities have. ...
“I’m very taken back by how well I was treated here in France. From strangers in the street, to the police and firefighters, to the hospital staff and administration. Everyone was amazing — I even had a view of the Eiffel Tower from my hospital room.”
There is another common denominator between the two countries.
“Hospital food, I’m afraid,” Goff wrote, “is just as bad in France as it is in the U.S.”