Inside the sports book, the betting parlor at Caesar’s Palace, 70-year-old Dick Grove — outfitted in Royals hat and Royals jersey — put his money where his heart is.
On his boys in blue.
The bet, for a crazy amount that he refused to reveal, was for the Royals to sweep the Giants.
The fact that San Francisco was already up 3-0 in the first inning of Game One, and would go on to thump the Royals 7-1, made no difference. Regardless of how that bet went, “I still have faith they will win the series,” Grove said.
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To be sure, the sidewalks of this shimmering, desert town — where hope can disappear faster than last month’s paycheck — stream every night with multitudes of people who could not care less about baseball.
It’s the opulent stage shows, food, drink and gambling inside casinos built as ersatz palaces, or as the Eiffel Tower, as pyramids or as New York’s skyline that pump adrenalin into their hearts.
But on Tuesday night, the true blue fans were inside watching. True fans, like Teresa Seymour, 32, of Wichita — in Vegas for an accountants’ convention — placed money ($20 for her) on her team.
Here, you can win or lose money on any of a dozen or more bets on a game. On the number of bases Alex Gordon will get, or Eric Hosmer or Lorenzo Cain. On the number of strikeouts James Shields might throw, or whether the game’s first home run will be a solo shot, a two- or three-run homer, or even a grand slam, or whether there will be none at all.
But Seymour didn’t bet to try to win cash. She bet to make a statement.
“I believe,” she said.
She is a serious fan from a serious sports family, so devoted in fact that, although Seymour was on a camping trip on the day the Royals won the game that put them in the postseason, she brought a radio to listen. Near her tent, she popped champagne at their victory.
She never misses a game.
Until this night, she and Grove had never met. They didn’t know each other. Grove, who lives in Lawrence and owns a Kansas City public relations firm, came down with about dozen buddies from his old high school days, 1962 graduates of Hutchinson High School. The meet in Vegas every year.
Here, the two sat near each other in stoic silence, near groups of a dozen or more Royals fans, others clad in blue, as pods of Giants fans in the casino cheered watching the struggles of pitcher James Shields in huge high-definition.
“It’s OK,” Seymour said. “We’re the comeback kids.”
Don’t get Seymour wrong, she wants her Royals to win. But she shared something. True fans like her, they’re proud of their teams.
“To tell you the truth,” she said. “The night they won the Wild Card game,” — and she was at that game — “I was satisfied.”
So win or lose — although she’s convinced they’ll ultimately win — “I love my team,” she said.
Even in Las Vegas, they call that a sure bet.
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 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 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.