© 2022 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
KCUR FM is currently operating at lower power. KCUR HD1 and HD2 are off air while Kansas City PBS performs repair work. Signals will be restored this afternoon.
Sports

A New Generation Of Royals Fans Knows Only Winners

Royals_WS_Duke_2.jpg
Courtesy
/
Katie Duke

It has been a long wait, but 29 years after the Royals won the franchise’s only World Series title, Kansas City is once again the center of the baseball world.

The team faces off against the San Francisco Giants in Game One of the World Series Tuesday at Kauffman Stadium, just four wins away from bringing back the city’s second baseball championship.

The last time the Royals won the World Series the Berlin Wall still divided two Germanys, the world still had no idea who shot J.R. and the Norwegian band A-ha’s New Wave hit “Take On Me” ruled the radio airwaves.

Since then, fans haven’t had much to celebrate. In the 29 years since the Royal’s World Series win, the team finished above .500 just eight times. Before this season, the Royals had not once made the playoffs, leaving a full generation of Royals fans with only heartbreak and disappointment to remember the team by.

“It’s been so rough being a Royals fan, even getting to the playoffs is a surprise for most everybody,” says 29-year-old Jay Dillman, who was born just two days before the Royals last playoff game.

Dillman is a devoted, even fanatic, Royals fan. But like many others, he hadn’t seen a playoff game in his baseball lifetime before this year’s Wild Card play-in – an instant-classic Kansas City win. Dillman graduated from four schools – elementary, middle and high school, and college – got a job and got married all in the time it took the Royals to secure a playoff berth.

The city’s youngest fans, however, are also caught up in the delirium of this surprising World Series run. After back-to-back solid seasons and a playoff berth, Kansas City’s four-, five- and six-year-olds know the Royals only as winners. They’re a mirror image of Dillman and legions of high school classes that graduated between playoff appearances.

Royals_WS_Dillman_1.jpg
Credit Courtesy Jay Dillman
/
Jay Dillman, left, grew up attending Royals games with his father Steve Dillman. Despite years of losing, Jay maintains he never lost faith the Royals would turn things around.

“For them, it’s great because it’s never good to follow a team that loses and loses and loses,” Dillman said with a shudder. “At the same time, for people that are a little bit older, it make us appreciate it all that much more.”

Four-year-old Will Duke likes few things in life more than the swings at Loose Park, but this year’s Royals team might give any swingset a run for its money. Particularly speedy outfielders Jarrod Dyson and Terrance Gore, according to Duke.

Three-year-old Emma Hutchings also has a favorite player: outfielder Nori Aoki. She also has a favorite mascot – the Royals’ Sluggerrr – and a favorite Royals outfit, which she assures me, is de rigueur at all Kansas City-area elementary schools.

Now, fans swept up in Royals fever won’t have to strain to remember the date of the most recent Royals World Series game.

They’ll remember what the political situation in Germany is. They’ll know the No. 1 Billboard hit has no synthesizer (Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass”) and that “Dallas” is still on TV. 

The date is Oct. 21, 2014.

KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and powerful storytelling.
Your donation helps make non-profit journalism available for everyone.