Royals fans filled most of the lower ring of Kauffman Stadium between first and third bases on Thursday for a season celebration ceremony.
Kansas City Royals broadcaster Ryan Lefebvre hosted the 45-minute program, during which Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders called Kauffman Stadium “the house that Jackson County voters built” and Kansas City Mayor Sly James told fans that “people all over the world have been talking about you.”
Many who turned out felt a personal connection to the team and needed to be in the stadium Thursday morning even after the pain of Wednesday night, when the Royals lost to the Giants 3-2 in game seven of the World Series.
“It wouldn’t have been right not to be here after the loss after coming to all the games,” said season-ticket holder Nicole Bandera of Overland Park. She spent some of the morning holding an oversized poster that she and her husband Nick Nikkhah had produced, featuring photos of the heads of various Royals team members digitally attached to the bodies of members of England’s royal family.
“We wanted to support our guys,” Bandera said.
Other fans actually felt like members of the Royals family.
Kelli Traylor and Julie Keen of Mission produced a cell phone containing a photo of them with former Royals first baseman Mike Sweeney, who posed with the pair after they spotted him having breakfast Thursday morning at the Corner Restaurant in Westport.
“They had a great season and you have to support your team,” Traylor said.
Still others felt compelled to bring their children, some not old enough to be aware of the epic importance of recent events.
Two-year-old Hadley MacKay of eastern Jackson County attended the rally with her mother, Jana. While attending a Royals game last season, Jana MacKay had stood near the Royals dugout, holding then-9-month-old Hadley.
“(Royals shortstop) Alcides Escobar saw us, motioned for all the other kids to move away and then threw me the ball,” said Mackay, who then drew from a bag the very same ball and a cellphone containing a photo taken just after the moment, showing her, Hadley and Hadley’s dad, Darren MacKay.
Maybe, MacKay wondered, Escobar would sign the ball.
“We love our city and we love our Royals,” MacKay said.
Jayne Langham of Raymore had to be there Thursday “because the Royals had a wonderful season and I loved their teamwork,” she said. Accompanying her was grandson Marshall Serrano, 6, who wanted to support the Royals because “they tried their best.”
One question, however, revealed split sentiments among fans attending Thursday’s celebration: Should Alex Gordon have tried to score on his hit with two outs in the ninth?
“Oh, yes,” Marshall said.
“If you’d ask me last night, I would have said yes,” Bandera said.
“We’ll never know,” Traylor said.
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