“All Navajo love the Royals! They kick butt,” Lance Benally, 52, declared.
Tuesday, the morning of Game 1 in Kansas City. The sun had just barely come up. We’d driven 100 miles down from Blanding, Utah, over roads through open range land, and pulled the Royals carriage into a McDonald’s in Kayenta, on the Navajo Reservation.
Benally, part of the Dine tribe, trotted up to the car.
“Go Royals,” he said in rasp that seemed to come on from a late-night revelry that lasted ‘til morning.
“That’s my brother,” Benally said, pointing to Larry Claw, 47, the quieter of the two, walking, hands in pockets to the car. “He’s a Royals fan.”
“They play good baseball,” Claw said. Tonight they’ll watch the game at his house.
“Big screen,” he said.
Think of it as an epic journey, as an odyssey, as a Royals road trip halfway across the country to seek out the devotion that now belongs to the boys from Kansas City.
We in Kansas City have always loved our Royals. But now, say the sports pundits, so does the rest of the nation.
This scrappy, sliding, bunting, running team — ball players who tip their caps in admiration of one another, slap high-fives like they smack doubles and buy drinks for their beloved fans — has captured the heart of America.
But how much do people really love the Royals? How much do they actually know about our boys in blue?
Such are the questions that prompted The Kansas City Star, on Sunday, to send two of its own — reporter Eric Adler and videographer Monty Davis — on the road, 2,200 miles to San Francisco, in the most conspicuous of Royals cars.
Follow them at kansascity.com or on Twitter at #royalsodyssey. Feel free to contact the reporters on Twitter through @eadler or @montydaviskc.