They’re crazy rituals, superstitions, unconscious acts we perform in life’s most nerve-racking moments.
Such as when?
Such as Game 6 of the World Series, with the Royals facing elimination. A loss would mean dream over.
So while the Royals were getting it done 10-0 on the field Tuesday night — tying the San Francisco Giants 3-3 in the Series and setting up the final Game 7 tonight — the fans at Kauffman Stadium were getting it done in the stands.
They tugged on their lucky hats, and they pulled on their lucky beads, and they wore their lucky underwear. They vowed to have their nachos in the seventh inning — not the sixth, not the eighth.
They pulled out all the quirky, peculiar stops — anything they could think of to tilt fate in the home team’s favor.
Gage Bowland, 7, a second-grader from Savannah, Mo., wore his Eric Hosmer jersey at key points in the postseason. And on Tuesday, with his face painted like a baseball, he wore it and his white pants from his Little League team, the Smithville Storm, as the Royals roared toward victory.
Do you think it brought them luck, Gage?
“Totally!” he declared,
No school for Gage today, said his mom, Brooke Bowland, 35.
No need to put out clothes. He knows what he’s wearing.
Eating, a lot
Scott Miller, 48, and his son, Dane, 10, of Platte City, had figured that this would be a 20-Tootsie Pop game. That’s what they brought to chew on for nerves. Scott Adams, 50, of St. Joseph, is a nervous lollipop eater, too.
Scott Norton, 44, a native of Blue Springs, came all the way from where he works as an IT guy in Portland, Ore., to be here.
“I’m a fat guy. I’m nervous eater,” he said.
He went to Games 3, 4 and 5 in San Francisco and said the entire series is so stressful, he swears he’ll either gain 20 pounds from nervous eating or die of a heart attack.
He and his friend since second grade, Travis Walker, 44, who still lives in Blue Springs, sat up in Section 423. In the second inning they were eating out of joy. Seven runs. Seven runs in one inning.
At home, Shari Galey, 54, of Excelsior Springs, has a routine. When the Giants put players on base, she’d just pause the TV and walk off. Too much tension. She can’t stand to see the other team with guys who could score. She leaves.
“In case something bad happens,” she said.
She walks from the room.
“I like read a magazine or do the dishes,” she said.
When she returns, she fast-forwards through the inning until the Royals are up again.
But ... at the actual game, there was no fast-forwarding.
So many shirts
Nearly every fan at The K seemed to swear that they’ve worn the same shirt for every game. Except Krisy Shadoin, 43, of Haven, Kan., up in Section 425, driving more than three hours to be here.
Every time she wore a certain Alex Gordon shirt, the Royals lost.
“Two in a row,” she said.
New shirt: on. Old shirt: gone.
Sharon Billman, 68, of Parsons, Kan., on Monday wore the same shirt, same Royals crown, and made sure she went through the exact same gate, Gate D, as she did last Wednesday when the Royals captured their first World Series win.
Check those shoes
Without a doubt, the coolest pair of shoes at Kauffman Stadium belonged to Taylor Clements, 25.
They’re bright blue slip-ons with tiny Royals logos scattered across them. They regularly capture the attention of fans, and, if Clements is to be believed, they could be tied to the Royals’ postseason success.
Before you scoff, consider: Clements, an usher at The K, has worked each of the home playoff games, and in all but one of those games she wore her Royals shoes.
The lone exception? On Oct. 21, she realized after entering the stadium that she’d left the shoes in her car. Too late to go back and get them. She then watched the Royals fall 7-1 in Game 1, a loss for which she still blames herself.
The following night, the shoes were on hand for the Royals’ Game 2 victory. And Game 6?
“I’m very happy that they’re here tonight,” she said.
Dave Prue is not ashamed to admit that after he happened to pull on a pair of royal blue underpants prior to the Royals’ thrilling 9-8 Wild Card victory over the Oakland Athletics last month, he has worn the exact same pair for every Royals game since.
“Once you win that Wild Card game,” shrugged the 69-year-old Belton resident Tuesday night, “you can’t change anything after that.”
His wife, Helen, was quick to point out that it is most certainly not a family endeavor.
Of course, successful as they may be, the underpants — and the Royals’ victory that they sparked — have now put Dave in a bit of a bind.
“I have to make sure I get them washed,” he said, “so I can wear them tomorrow night.”
At the time, Kenny Wilson remembers, it was a rather thoughtless purchase — just a couple strands of blue and gold beads he’d picked up for $5 outside Kauffman Stadium prior to the Royals’ Wild Card game.
But that was before they became an integral part of his game-day ensemble, and before the Royals started winning at a startling clip.
Now he can’t imagine watching the Royals without his beads.
“I’d feel naked,” he says. “I’ll be here with them tomorrow.”
Power & Light
Ecstatic fans at the jam-packed Power & Light District in downtown Kansas City had their own rituals for charming a Royals win.
Tom Troemel, a fan from Wisconsin, hasn’t washed his game clothes since before the Wild Card game.
“I use lots of cologne,” he said.
Dan Russell of Shawnee invests money. Every game, between the national anthem and the first pitch, he pulls any coins from his pockets and tosses them away.
“It started with my dad,” he says.
Brian Miller of Overland Park has to have Joe’s Kansas City barbecue before each game.
“It’s got to happen,” he said.
His sister, Lauren Miller, who got to hug Billy Butler five years ago and still feels the vibe, attended the Wild Card game instead of studying for an upcoming corporate finance test at the University of Kansas.
“I got a 95 percent, and I thought I’d failed,” she said, adding that she has another test this week in the same class.
Did she study for that? What do you think?
The Star’s Matt Campbell contributed to this report.