Royals

The science of standing room only: It takes skill and strategy to watch the game

El Royal (Tony Alonzo) found the view a little restricted in standing room Saturday.
El Royal (Tony Alonzo) found the view a little restricted in standing room Saturday.

Ben Honeycutt shouldn’t be doing this. The Royals fan was born with a spinal condition that causes spasms if he stands too long.

Honeycutt and a couple friends bought standing-room-only tickets anyway —$100 each — just three hours before Saturday’s American League Championship Series game at Kauffman Stadium.

And during the Royals’ 5-run seventh inning? Funny how Honeycutt’s back wasn’t hurting a bit.

The University of Kansas student had spent the game on the concourse high above left field hopping to see over heads in front and crouching to view the field between people on each side of the steps going down.

But when that fifth run came in, Honeycutt, 22, was all over the place. He jumped straight up, seven times, pumping both fists. Then he took off running toward the statue of Ewing and Muriel Kauffman.

Those who come to The K with SRO tickets can do this. When good things happen, some run to nowhere in particular.

“I’m a college student. Standing room only is all I can do,” said Honeycutt, still panting a bit after his seventh-inning hysterics. “And moving around like this helps my back.”

A lot of fans prefer going SRO. The entire stadium is theirs, except for the seats.

Others will tolerate it for the postseason.

Like El Royal, who was kicking himself.

He’s no fan of standing room only. But there he was Saturday behind right-center in the shade of the Crown Vision scoreboard, unable to see all of left field.

(The scoreboard shade actually was a plus, as it kept the caped El Royal, aka Tony Alonzo of Merriam, from sweating too much behind a blue foam mask accented by a giant sombrero.)

“I should’ve gotten my butt out of bed,” Alonzo, 46, said. “The Royals put some seats on sale at 1 a.m. after Game 5” of the divisional series.

From bed he phoned his wife, who was working out of town. “Get those seats while you can,” she said.

But nah. Alonzo figured the seats, at $125, would still be available come daybreak.

Well, the great El Royal was wrong. He paid $106 to stand. And while explaining all this to The Star, the Blue Jays scored the game’s first run, which he missed.

You need to stay on your toes, literally, if your SRO.

Or you could race to the sweet nook near section 221, behind a Boulevard Beer stand, before Mike Fowks and Roman Ozimek get there.

They have an unobstructed view of the left side of the infield and have been hoarding the spot since the start of the postseason.

They didn’t know each other two weeks ago but are buddies now.

“I think this is the best spot in the park to watch the game,” said Ozimek, 28, of Kansas City. “But you’re not going to put it in the paper, are you. Are you insane? Everyone will know.”

Fowks, 57, of DeSoto, said he’ll sometimes buy nose-bleed seats and walk down to the main concourse and go SRO right here, with sudsy refreshments two steps away.

“It doesn’t matter that we’re standing,” he said. “People with seats stand every time the count goes to 3-2.”

Or when the Royals need a psychological lift, which was often when they were facing Blue Jays starter David Price.

And, ironically, some with SRO tickets sit.

That’s Terrance Carter back there in the picnic table area of the Outfield Experience, sitting with a plate of nachos and following the game on a big screen.

For a $90 SRO ticket he bought online, “I can check something off the bucket list,” said Carter, 44, of Kansas City. “I’ve never been to a Royals postseason game.”

On occasion he stretched his legs and roamed. In fact, he was in the stadium Team Store buying souvenirs while Toronto scored two more runs in the sixth inning.

Carter missed it.

He was still in the store when a Toronto fielding error got that seventh-inning rally going. Hearing the cheers he sprinted toward the nearest TV and watched the rest of the scoring.

By games’ end he was back sitting at the picnic table to see the Royals wrap it up.

Big smile.

“Yeah, I’m kind of a roamer out here,” he said. “But I learned my lesson.”

Rick Montgomery: 816-234-4410, @rmontgomery_r

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