Kansas City Royals Fans Rally For First Playoff Game Against Houston Astros
Draped in fashion of Royal blue, caps bobbing up and down in a sea of fans, they lined up Grand Avenue and wrapped around 13th Street to squeeze into the noon rally at The Power & Light District Wednesday.
There was Royals swag and spirit, and the chance to get nostalgic with veterans of the 1985 Championship Royals team.
Outfielder and speedster Willie Wilson, five-time All Star second baseman Frank White, and starter Dennis Leanord were among those who shared stories about their careers and cheered on the 2015 team.
Dennis Leanord, the winning pitcher when the Royals clinched the American League West titles in 1977 and 1980, said the home-field advantage is real.
“Well, you know the field ... and have the backing of the fans, obviously,” he said. “Also, it’s a lot more relaxed (when you go out on the field) when you’ve been home with your wife and kids."
Outfielder Willie Wilson talked about how the game had changed over the decades.
“Well, money wise, that’s the biggest change,” he laughed. “Secondly, starting pitching doesn’t go as far as it used to. You have specialists that come in — one inning specialists, or stoppers. Thirdly, you don’t have to go three innings to get a save. I feel the game is a little easier for these guys to participate in, but it’s the same old thing. You have to win to get people to the ball park and these guys are winning.”
Waiting for a spot in the crowded open-air pavilion, Cindy Daniel said she'd traveled from Oklahoma for years to cheer through all the Royals less-than-stellar seasons. Now, she's ecstatic.
“I’ve been following the team for decades,” she said. “I’m a loyal Royal.”
Andrew Riley moved away years ago. Still an avid fan, he brought his family in from Florida for the week. “We just wanted to be here to be part of all the spirit,” he said.
The Royals face the Houston Astros in Game One of the American League Division Series at Kauffman Stadium Thursday night.