A scene like this plays out probably hundreds of times each season at Kauffman Stadium and likely thousands more around Major League Baseball.
For a child, is there anything that matches the very first trip to see the Royals play?
It's a chance to watch their favorite players on the field, gaze upon the Crown Vision board, be surrounded by thousands of fans, maybe see some fireworks and definitely eat some ballpark food.
But on Monday night, 11-year-old Haddon Fries’ first game at Kauffman Stadium was a bit more special than most.
To begin with, few kids have traveled farther to watch the boys in blue. Haddon and his family live in Chattanooga, Tenn., but they are hardcore Royals fans. So they made the 12-hour trip for the Royals-Twins game.
Haddon’s dad, Micah, tweeted this photo after the family arrived at the Truman Sports Complex. He wrote: “This is what pure, unadulterated joy looks like. This was the moment he drove into the parking lot at Kauffman Stadium for the first time. He’s been waiting for this for a long time.”
Haddon’s mom, Tracy, was born and raised in St. Joseph, Mo., where Micah lived for a decade.
“This,” Micah said, nodding to the Kauffman Stadium field, “was our date night every week when we were first married.”
Their daughters Grace, 14, and Kessed, 12, have attended games their whole lives.
“We’ve got pictures of them as babies getting their little certificates from their first game here,” Micah said.
The family moved to Tennessee five years ago but still watch Royals games on MLB.tv. They added a new fan to their nest a year ago.
Micah and Tracy adopted Haddon from the African nation of Lesotho in January 2017. That first visit with Haddon remains fresh in the couple's minds.
"In fact, we sent him a care package even before we even met him with a Royals hat and a Royals shirt,” Micah said, “so the day we met him, he was wearing a Royals hat.”
Tracy said, “That’s how we knew which one was ours.”
When he got to the United States, Haddon immediately fell in love with the Royals.
“He had never even heard of baseball prior to coming to our house,” Tracy said. “They knew soccer and basketball where he is from. But no concept of baseball. He’s caught on to the game by playing (and) playing baseball on Xbox.”
Haddon is in his second season of playing baseball. He’s a center fielder and second baseman, but he has plans to switch positions.
“I want to catch,” Haddon said. “I’m going to be a pitcher next year, because I’m going to be a catcher in college.”
Why a catcher? That Haddon was watching Monday’s game in his Salvador Perez jersey should be a big clue.
Yep, Perez is his favorite player, and Haddon’s dream is to one day crouch behind the plate at Kauffman Stadium.
His potential future team on Monday night spoiled Haddon a bit. After seeing his dad’s tweet, the Royals gave Haddon a bag full of goodies, including T-shirts, hats and bobbleheads.
Like any big baseball fan, Haddon wasn’t much interested in doing an in-game interview.
“I’m watching the game,” he exclaimed.
Micah said, “His energy is off the charts."
But Haddon did pose for a photo that Micah tweeted with this message: "@Royals, he grew up in southern Africa but he is #RaisedRoyal now!"
After the game, Royals fans offered to give Haddon autographed baseball cards and tickets to a future game.
Although the Twins won 8-5, it was a night Haddon and his family won't forget.
After the final out, Micah tweeted: "It didn’t end like we hoped, but this @SalvadorPerez15 fan is going home really happy and one seriously dedicated @Royals fan. Thank you KC."