Bobby Smith on Tuesday night took in the worst game of the Royals’ postseason run from what might very well be the worst seat in Kauffman Stadium.
And that seat hadn’t come cheap.
For two tickets, one of which went to an old high school buddy, he’d paid a combined $1,650.
But Smith, like other fans in good and bad seats alike, didn’t regret the cost. World Series seats were simply on a lot of bucket lists.
Some paid more than $1,000 for sweet seats.
But to get to Section 405, where Smith sat, you pretty much just start at the bottom and go up.
Up the spiral ramp, past the box seats and the bustling main concourse. Past the Triple Crown suites, where celebrities and Royals royalty congregate. And once you finally reach the upper deck, you keep going up — all the way to the stadium’s upper lip.
It was from this perch that Smith looked down on the game.
Aside from the money, he had to cash in a lot of what he calls “marital equity” — goodwill built up over 23 years of marriage to his wife, Victoria.
Just to be here, he’d driven nine hours from his hometown of Leitchfield, Ky. A retired Army man who’d grown up in Kansas City, he’d been part of the Center High School band that had performed at the Royals’ 1985 World Series parade. And when this year’s team swept Baltimore last week to enter the Series, his wife had granted him permission, he’d gotten in the car and gone.
And while the game’s anticlimactic conclusion gave him every reason to be second-guessing the decision now, Smith, like many of these other fans, wouldn’t change a thing despite sky-high prices.
▪ $950: Close enough to swap stories with the bat boy.
As a financial adviser, Cale Hill prides himself on a certain fiscal aptitude and responsibility.
So it was with a touch of embarrassment that he revealed exactly how he’d paid for his seat to the game — a darn-near-perfect box seat located just four rows up behind the visitors’ dugout on the third base line.
“I actually took the money out of my IRA,” he said.
Serious times, though, call for serious measures, and it was hard to complain with the result. By first pitch Tuesday, Hill sat among a collection of mostly season-ticket holders in one of the best seats in the house. Close enough, if the mood struck, to toss a heckle or two Buster Posey’s way as the San Francisco slugger waited in the nearby on-deck circle.
In fairness, Hill did his best to limit the monetary damage. He waited out the astronomical ticket prices on Friday, when similar seats were going for about $1,300. He gave himself a hard $1,000 ceiling, then managed to stick to it. He even checked with his mom, an accountant, to make sure there wasn’t some way in which a World Series ticket might be protected against IRA-withdrawal penalties.
There’s not, it turns out.
Still, just being there made the price of admission well worth it, he said, and even after the Royals fell behind three runs in the first inning, he wasn’t burdening himself with second thoughts.
▪ $600: Standing room only with four layers of fans on tiptoes behind you.
The top of third ended with a long fly sailing toward college students Preston Felgate and Matt Smith in their spot above the fountains in right center.
“That’s gone,” Smith feared as centerfielder Lorenzo Cain gave chase and vanished behind the wall below the fountains.
Felgate and Smith, childhood buddies from Lenexa, didn’t see Cain catch the ball. But they heard the cheers and knew.
The two had held this spot at the railing for hours before the game, standing the entire time and alternating trips to the restroom. Smith paid $600 for his ticket; Felgate paid $525 on a different day.
To shell out that much “isn’t easy when you’re 22 and trying to get through college,” said Felgate, who missed afternoon practice as a pitcher for the William Jewell College squad. “But this? This is perfect.”
A moment later, their heads bent toward the water as the Royals left the bases loaded.
▪ $360: Foul pole blocks view of home plate.
“We got incredibly lucky,” said Sabrina Grewe of Overland Park, whose husband scored the two seats, for a total of $720, when his name was drawn from the MLB.com lottery last week.
Just a few rows up from left field, too.
Now if that big yellow foul pole weren’t there, Grewe and her daughter, Emma, would not need to tilt their heads to watch hitters swing.
Before the purchase, MLB.com was kind enough to inform the Grewes their seats had obstructed views.
The family saved by getting pairs of Series tickets rather than sets of four. Her husband and son will replace Mom and daughter for tonight’s contest.
“I’m glad we didn’t have to spend thousands,” Grewe said. “And my husband, he just might’ve.”
Emma, 10, was a bit bummed, though.
“Not my favorite game ever,” she said after the sixth inning. “Losing five to nothing.”
In minutes it would be 6-0.
▪ $1,250: A chance to be surrounded by your best friends.
If, you know, your best friends are Paul Rudd, Eric Stonestreet and members of the 1985 World Series team.
These are seats on the suite level, where the celebrities and former athletes made room Tuesday for Christy and Shane Brown — for a premium price, of course. They shelled out $2,500 for a pair of tickets.
How did they make that happen? Willpower.
The Browns of North Kansas City avoided buying tickets to any previous postseason game to ensure they would have enough dough left if the Royals made it to the World Series.
“It’s sort of like we bet on the Royals,” Christy Brown said. “But I was 14 when the Royals won the World Series, and my parents wouldn’t let me out of school for the parade. A World Series has been on my bucket list ever since.”
Their opening-game appearance was another wager on the Royals. They chose Game 1 because they were hopeful the Royals can finish off the series in five games, meaning it wouldn’t need to return to Kansas City.
If it does, though, will they make it back to Kauffman?
“No,” Brown said.
“Whoa,” Shane Brown responded. “Maybe.”