St. Louis gal now roots for Royals

Pam Droog Jones

BY PAM DROOG JONES

Although I’m from St. Louis, I’m a fan of the Kansas City Royals. Blame it on my husband, Jerry, a former Kansas Citian. At first I paid no attention when he watched the Royals on TV. (I also paid no attention to the Cardinals, or to baseball in general.) But one May evening as I was passing by the TV, I heard a big commotion between the Royals and the opposing team. I don’t recall what it was all about, but I stopped and watched a while. Soon I started to catch a few innings now and then. Then I was hooked and began arranging my evenings around viewing the games with Jerry.

Of course I quickly realized the Royals are a crummy team. But that helped me get over my odd feelings of disloyalty toward the Cardinals. I felt—and still feel—the Royals need me. The Cardinals do not.

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The Royals can be so terrible, either inconsistent or consistently awful, that supporting them can be emotionally draining. It’s almost operatic. But throughout the spring and summer I always look forward to watching the games and shouting at the TV like my Zada Michael Zemliak used to do (he hated Harry Carey and I can only imagine his opinion of Al Hrabosky).

In the few years I’ve been a fan I’ve become well acquainted with Royals players, management

and announcers. So last year, I truly felt a loss when one of the team’s beloved former players and color announcers, Paul Splittorf, passed away rather suddenly. Soon after, in a tribute to their teammate and friend, the Royals broadcast the entire first inning of a game with no play-by-play, no analysis, no commentary. The total silence eloquently expressed the profound sadness—so different from the over-the-top sentiment and phony tears that frequently accompany the death of someone well-known. The Royals may be a terrible team but it seemed to me in those quiet minutes they achieved real greatness.