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Royals fans trust rituals, celebrate stunning comeback and win over Astros

Fans cheer on Royals as they rally to beat Astros

Workplaces across Kansas City were focused on the Royals' rally to take the lead in the eighth inning. At American Century Investments the crowd grew after the stock market closed and the rally grew. (Video by Mark Davis/The Kansas City Star Oct.
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Workplaces across Kansas City were focused on the Royals' rally to take the lead in the eighth inning. At American Century Investments the crowd grew after the stock market closed and the rally grew. (Video by Mark Davis/The Kansas City Star Oct.

So who were those few Royals fans straggling out of the Power & Light District about 3 p.m. Monday?

Billy Lowenstein, who works downtown at Deloitte & Touche, admits he was one.

After all, the Royals were down 6-2 to the Houston Astros in the eighth inning of Game 4 of their American League Division Series and had lost an early lead. It just wasn’t their day.

“But once I got back at work, I kept looking at the game,” Lowenstein said. “Then, single, single, single.”

The Royals kept hitting and then, with the score tied 6-6, Lowenstein made his way back to the Power & Light District in triumph, his work complete.

“Reverse karma,” Lowenstein said, his smile huge.

Royals fans across Kansas City went from weary resignation to guarded optimism to off-the-charts rapture as the Royals rallied to win 9-6, sending the series back to Kansas City for a decisive Game 5 at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Kauffman Stadium.

Software engineer Nick Mallare and about a dozen co-workers crowded around a computer monitor to watch the game at the Nerdery, 100 E. Seventh St.

“As soon as I saw the second (Houston) home run, I walked away. … This just feels over,” Mallare said.

Back at his desk, he got another feeling. He had been at last year’s Wild Card Game, when the Royals rallied to beat the Oakland Athletics 9-8 but couldn’t remember. He had to look it up.

The Royals had been down four runs going into the eighth inning, just like Monday.

“I’d given up on it for about maybe two or three minutes until that Wild Card epiphany happened,” Mallare said. “I feel really good right now. You just feel like you don’t want to stop believing it.”

At American Century Investments near the County Club Plaza, a small group of employees watched those Houston home runs on several screens in an office auditorium. Nina Westvold, the company’s director of workforce operations, had the idea to show the game.

More employees trickled in once the stock market had closed, freeing them from their work, and the Royals began to rally. The turning point for Westvold was when the Royals started playing like the Royals again, stringing together hits instead of trying to hit home runs.

By the game’s final pitch, about 50 employees had gathered to cheer the Royals win, Westvold among them.

“I was going to be miserable,” she said of a possible Royals loss. “I have tickets to Game 5.”

Meanwhile, many of the fans in the Power & Light District had their mojos working.

Joe Williams of south Kansas City had stationed himself all afternoon just outside McFadden’s Sports Saloon and suffered through the first seven innings. At one point, baking in the late afternoon sun, he had taken off his Royals jersey.

Clearly, that was why the Royals rallied, he said.

“I’m watching all the rest of the games from right here,” Williams said as Royals reliever Wade Davis closed out the ninth.

Many fans, including Williams, had stationed themselves at prime perches, riding the game out since it began shortly after noon. Sisters Missy and Cindy Layton decided to celebrate their shared birthday two days early and watch the game on the steps in front of the big screen in the Kansas City Live courtyard. Despite sharing a birth date, they are not twins.

Hey … Wednesday is Game 5.

“But this is our birthday present right here,” Missy Layton said as fans celebrated the final outs.

Nearby, sharing the same steps, John Crawford of Independence was joyful, pleased that his particular magic had worked yet again. He was wearing a blue Royals jersey, one with unique, uh, powers.

“I haven’t washed this jersey since last year’s World Series,” he said.

The Star took Crawford’s word for it.

Brian Burnes: 816-234-4120, @BPBthree

Mark Davis: 816-234-4372, @mdkcstar

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