“We’ll never be royals,” go the song lyrics made famous by singer and songwriter Lorde.
She must have never met Sung Woo Lee.
Lee, a Royals fan since the 1990s who follows the team from his home in Seoul, South Korea, was treated like royalty upon his arrival Tuesday at Kansas City International Airport.
Camera crews, fellow Royals fans and curious bystanders watched and cheered as Lee made his way through the gate, wearing his Royal blue jersey.
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“It’s surreal and overwhelming to be here,” Lee said. “I didn’t expect the crowd and media like this. I’m not sure I deserve it, but I’m really happy to come here to Kansas City and see some Royals games in person.”
The Royals superfan made headlines when it was announced by his welcoming committee of Chris Kamler, Dave Darby, Kevin Robinson, Ethan Bryan and Jeff Huerter that Lee would finally make the trip to Kansas City to watch the Royals.
As things tend to do on social media, the news spread quickly on Twitter as people tracked Lee’s flight from the minute he left South Korea on Monday night until he touched down at KCI. The hashtag #SungWootoKC was used for those who followed his whereabouts.
Before Lee’s arrival, Kamler said Lee probably had no idea what he was going to be walking into after getting off the plane.
“We may scare him off,” he said.
Lee said, “My wife and family will not believe this.”
Kamler said he and other Royals fans have been communicating with Lee for a few years on Twitter. Kamler said Lee tweets with fans during the games despite the 14-hour time difference from Kansas City, and many fans have been asking Lee for years to come to the United States to watch the Royals and see Kauffman Stadium.
About a month and a half ago, Kamler received an e-mail from Lee that said he was going to make the trip. Lee’s welcoming committee has helped organize an itinerary for his week-long stay that includes attending five Royals games. He is scheduled to throw out Monday’s first pitch before the Royals take on the Oakland A’s.
On Wednesday they will visit the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, Arthur Bryant’s and the National World War I Museum and Liberty Memorial.
Lee will also attend the Chiefs preseason game against the Bengals on Thursday, and will drive to Springdale, Ark., to see the Royals Class AA affiliate, the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, something Kamler said Lee mentioned he wanted to do during his visit.
Lee said it’s not easy to watch every Royals game because the night games during the week are often on while he is at work, but he said he tries to catch as many as he can. On the weekends, he wakes up in the middle of the night to watch the games.
“Once I knew the Royals’ history, I liked the team more and more and I believe they’re going to be a winner,” he said.
When asked what he was most looking forward to during his visit, the answer was simple.
“Of course go to the K,” he said. “And sweep the Giants and Athletics.”
To reach Katie O'Keefe, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.