Campus Corner

Royals fans on Missouri’s roster relish wild postseason ride

Missouri Tigers defensive lineman Lucas Vincent on the Royals’ success: “It’s very nice to have something to brag about now.”
Missouri Tigers defensive lineman Lucas Vincent on the Royals’ success: “It’s very nice to have something to brag about now.” The Associated Press

Teresa Boehm called her son, Missouri junior center Evan Boehm, around 2 p.m. on Sept. 30, roughly five hours before first pitch in the AL Wild Card Game between the A’s and Royals at Kauffman Stadium.

“I found two tickets for the game if you and Tyler want to go,” Teresa said.

Tyler Boehm, Evan’s younger brother, is a junior linebacker at Lee’s Summit West, where the patriarch of the Boehm family, Royce, is in his 11th season as the Titans’ head coach.

Evan didn’t have to think too hard about that offer. He stopped by the University of Missouri Hospital to visit Tigers senior left guard Anthony Gatti, who had surgery to repair a torn ACL earlier that morning.

“It took about an hour then I drove straight home, picked up my little brother and we went to the Royals game,” Evan said.

Like everyone else in the crowd of 40,502 that night, he’ll never forget the surreal scene of the Royals’ stirring 9-8 comeback victory in 12 innings.

“It was great,” Boehm said. “People ask me what the atmosphere was like and I tell them it was like an Arrowhead Stadium inside of Kauffman Stadium. It was loud, people were rowdy. I’ve never seen an atmosphere like that inside Kauffman.”

After Oakland’s five-run sixth inning, Evan, who threw out the first pitch for “Mizzou Night at the K” in July, admitted that he and Tyler thought about bailing and trying to beat traffic to the exits.

“There were so many times where it felt like it was over and we kept saying, ‘We believe,’ but I also had to wake up early and drive back (to Columbia),” Boehm said. “(Tyler) had school in the morning, so we thought about calling it a night.”

That discussion reached its peak with the Royals down 7-3 in the eighth inning against A’s ace Jon Lester.

“We’ll give it this inning then we’ll leave,” Evan told Tyler.

The Royals, of course, rallied for three runs in the bottom of the eighth and eventually forced extra innings with a run in the ninth.

At that point, the Boehms weren’t going anywhere regardless of the next morning’s commitments.

“It was just nuts,” Boehm said. “By the time the game was over and we got to the car, it was 12:30 (a.m.) and I had to wake up at 5:30 to drive home and lift.”

And it was totally worth it.

“As we’re walking out, I looked at Tyler and said, ‘Dude, we just witnessed history being made,’” Boehm said. “That’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience that we’re going to remember forever.”

It only got better during the weekend, of course, as the Royals polished off the Angels, who entered the postseason as the top seed in the American League after compiling baseball’s best record.

“I was zoned into every game and I’m just so glad we got it figured out and could win in nine innings (Sunday) night, because I was getting pretty dang tired,” Evan said.

He wasn’t alone among bleary-eyed Missouri players who grew up in Kansas City and have been glued to the Royals’ wide postseason ride, which continues Friday with game one of the AL Championship Series at Baltimore.

“It’s great to see the Royals winning,” said senior punter Christian Brinser, a Liberty graduate. “It’s my first playoffs since I was born obviously and I’m 23. … It’s so good to see and the city is behind all those guys, too.”

Brinser had tickets for the game four of the ALDS, but said he wasn’t disappointed he didn’t get to use them.

“They obviously won in three games, and that’s fine with me,” he said.

It hasn’t always been easy as a Royals fan in Columbia, which is nestled halfway between Kansas City and St. Louis.

The town’s baseball allegiance leans toward the east, and Missouri’s roster is stocked with plenty of players who grew up in St. Louis and bleed Cardinals red.

“Cardinals fans are great and they love their team, but, to me, they don’t understand what we’ve gone through as Royals fans,” Brinser said.

For once, it was nice for the Royals’ faithful on Missouri’s roster to have some October ammunition in the Royals/Cardinals debate.

“It’s been really impressive and it’s been great to watch, because we haven’t had much to talk about with the Royals being here the last four years with all the Cardinals fans,” said senior defensive tackle Lucas Vincent, an Olathe North graduate. “It’s very nice to have something to brag about now.”

Even Missouri’s coaching and support staff has been swept up in the excitement.

Chad Moller, Missouri’s associate athletic director for strategic communications, is an unapologetically proud Royals fans and so is associate head coach/quarterbacks coach Andy Hill, who recruits the Kansas City area.

“Love ’em,” said Hill, a Trenton, Mo., native in his 19th season on the Tigers’ staff. “They’re keeping me up late at night. They’re killing me, but it’s pretty cool.”

Missouri’s loyal Kansas City contingent hopes the Boys in Blue provide another few more weeks’ worth of reasons to swell with pride.

“Talking to (junior kicker and Lee’s Summit North graduate) Andrew (Baggett), (junior quarterback and Lee’s Summit graduate) Corbin (Berkstresser), (redshirt freshman left tackle and Blue Valley graduate) Clay (Rhodes), I’m like, ‘Dude, this is pretty cool what’s going on right now. It’s such an amazing winning streak, such a great hot streak.’ It’s just unbelievable and such a fun ride to be on.”

To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to tpalmer@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter at @todpalmer.

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