Opinion

Royals’ Billy Butler church sign goes viral in a flash

Some Royals fans took Billy Butler’s first career postseason stolen base in Game 3 of the American League Division Series as a sign that Kansas City is a team of destiny after 29 years of playoff-less frustration.

Now those fans might have a new sign – a message board in front of a Johnson County church.

“Thou shalt not steal, unless you are Billy Butler,” reads the sign at Asbury United Methodist Church in Prairie Village, which went viral Tuesday as national sports media outlets picked up on the clever proclamation of Royals fandom via Twitter, Facebook and blogs.

The Sporting News posted about the photo with the headline, “Kansas church supports stealing… for Royals’ Billy Butler.”

CBSSports.com wrote about the sign by, of course, mentioning Butler’s noted lack of speed.

“On Sunday night, things were going so well for the Royals in their win over the Angels in Game 3 of the ALDS that Billy Butler even managed to steal a base. He might be the slowest everyday player in baseball. Certainly the slowest among non-catchers,” Mike Axisa wrote.

Major League Baseball’s irreverent Fan Cave account said “the church went so far as to allow Billy Butler to steal all he wants” under a headline of “Run, Billy, run!”

Each week the church tries to come up with “something fun . . . that is going to make people smile and take note of Asbury, and hopefully make them want to stop by and see what we are all about,” Asbury’s director of communications Eva Hedtke said in an e-mail.

“This week, Leighann Prothro, Director of Children and Youth ministries suggested we do something about the Royals maybe Billy Butler and the base he stole. Then I came up with ‘It’s not okay to steal, unless you are Billy Butler.’ That is when Rev. Lee Johnson put the Biblical twist on it!”

On its Extra Mustard blog, Sports Illustrated said the church had “posted a special message on its marquee, letting everyone know Butler had a special dispensation from the seventh commandment.”

The sign drew the attention of TV stations and ESPN, as well as people in the community who stopped to take photos that also ended up on social media.

One person, Beth Jones (@bethalma), tweeted a photo of the sign to Butler and the Royals with the hashtag #exceptions.

Butler retweeted the sign and responded: “Preach. Always could use the Big guy’s help!”

The suddenly-speedy Butler takes his wheels to Baltimore for Friday’s Game 1 of the American League Championship Series against the Orioles.

Reach Joshua Wood at 316-268-6413 or jwood@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @joshwood.

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