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.
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.