As corks were popping and champagne hosed around the Royals’ clubhouse early Monday morning at Citi Field, someone started yelling it was time to get outside and back to the field.
To celebrate with Royals fans.
The ones who were inspired to start chanting “Let’s Go, Royals” seconds after the deflating end of Game 7 of the 2014 World Series.
The ones who essentially kept chanting it ever since in a season that shattered all attendance and local TV ratings — not to mention redefined All-Star Game voting.
Never miss a local story.
As Jarrod Dyson carried the Commissioner’s Trophy from out of the dugout, he turned to Eric Hosmer to help him hoist it toward the hundreds of Royals fans who had descended nearby.
“This is going back to Kansas City, baby!” Hosmer yelled.
So even at the surreal pinnacle, in one of the greatest moments of their lives, the Royals were as attuned to their faithful followers as they were to anything — a backdrop that explains the sincerity of what happened on Tuesday in Kansas City.
A parade to end all parades culminated between the Liberty Memorial and Union Station, where many of the hundreds of thousands of people to attend the event sardined themselves in to celebrate the Royals.
Along the way, they sat on bridges in the distance and climbed up in trees and stood on cars hoping for a fleeting glimpse. Or maybe some were just content to be in the aura of an event that smothered the communications grid as it gridlocked downtown.
What they all got was an impromptu fan appreciation day from the Royals, who were awed by the sea of humanity along the route and looking out from the Royals-stock main stage at Union Station.
“This is a day like none of us have ever seen before, and we appreciate it from the bottom of our hearts,” manager Ned Yost said with a tremor in his voice.
That’s why after human selfie-stick Sal Perez posed for one with Lorenzo Cain facing the crowd, they turned around and shot another with the crowd behind them.
“Y’all get in the pictures with us,” Cain said as they rotated.
Hosmer, who along with others had been driven through the parade route wearing “THANKS KANSAS CITY” sweatshirts and wearing a sweatshirt carrying the same message, looked around him and said, “This turnout’s been something you can’t even make up in a dream. It’s really unbelievable.”
Pitcher Edinson Volquez, whose father died a week ago, took the microphone to chants of “Eddie, Eddie.”
“That’s what I’m talking about!” he said.
Then he began to say something about “fans like you guys,” before he paused and said, “I might be crying right now; it’s too much for me.”
Pitcher Jeremy Guthrie stood on the stage and gathered the team to share its postgame celebration routine, a rare glimpse for fans into a “what-happens-here-stays-here” world.
“We want to share it a little bit with you,” Guthrie said. “We have a little song. We do ‘Thunderstruck.’ We clap to it …”
And on he went, with teammates acting out.
In some other places, from some other voices, these sorts of gestures might be viewed as hollow pandering.
But the Royals are as happy for their fans as their fans are for them, and Tuesday was their chance to demonstrate that.
The term “basking in reflected glory” speaks to the pride people feel in being associated with a winner.
The Royals amplified that feeling by turning the mirror on them.
The synergy Tuesday was palpable a year after a symbiotic relationship became apparent between the young nucleus of this team and the city.
The most obvious symbol of that had been after the 2014 American League Division Series sweep of the Angels, when Hosmer via Twitter essentially flashed a bat-signal in the sky asking fans to join the team at McFadden’s with the hashtag allonebigfamily.
Hosmer completed the transaction by plunking down a credit card for the $17,000 bar tab.
But that was just one of numerous examples of the Royals being among us in the community and being so relatable and accessible despite their increasingly inflated stature.
At the entire other end of the emotional spectrum, consider how promptly and movingly both the franchise itself and individual players responded after Kansas City firefighters Larry Leggio and John Mesh died in the line of duty last month.
The day before Game 5 against Houston, Hosmer, the son of a retired firefighter, asked to speak to the media to express his condolences.
When the families took part in a solemn ceremony at Kauffman Stadium the next day, Mike Moustakas broke out of the Royals’ introduction line to hug members of the families and Hosmer met privately with them.
Along with the spirit and style and resolve with which the Royals play, that sense of mutual appreciation is part of why fans were turning out in such numbers and with a fervor you’d expect to see if, say, Pope Francis was on tour with Elvis and the Beatles.
This is somewhat the happy residue of success, but it’s also not entirely by coincidence.
When general manager Dayton Moore took over in 2006, part of his vision called for contouring a team to his ballpark — stressing speed and defense — and part of it was shaping it for this city.
Consider them entwined.
“Best fans in the woooorld! Best team in the woooorld! Best city in the woooorld!” Mayor Sly James boomed, later adding, “This team is like our city. We. Never. Quit.”
Because Moore and his scouts and coaches wanted to cultivate a team the city could be proud of on and off the field, there were plenty of times that meant ruling out young prospects or those on the market that they felt weren’t a good fit in the clubhouse or in the community.
Meanwhile, because of the market size, the Royals always are going to be dependent foremost on home-grown talent.
So that meant putting a particular premium on the character of draftees such as Hosmer and Moustakas and the infinitely popular, show-stealing Perez.
This group “grew up together,” Yost said, noting how they’d won championships in the minor leagues and adding, “And what they wanted most was to come to this city for YOU fans and win a world championship for you guys.
“We celebrate that here today.”
There were other highlights on Tuesday, of course.
Alex Gordon deftly channeled Noah Syndergaard and his premeditated dusting of Alcides Escobar, saying, “We’ve got a trick up our sleeves too, and it’s called World Series champions!”
George Brett stood up and called this “the greatest team in Kansas City Royals history. These guys are the team ever! Ever!”
Yordano Ventura ventured forth in English publicly for the first time and said, “We love you, and we played hard every day for you.”
Jonny Gomes unleashed a story in itself with his flag-planting, mic-throwing rant.
But it all circled back to one thing.
As Moore began to speak to the crowd, Perez interrupted him with the trophy and said, “For you, Dayton.”
Moore corrected Perez and said it was for him.
Then he turned back to the crowd and finished what he had set out to say all along.
“Thank you for your faithfulness; thank you for believing in us,” Moore said. “This is all for you.”