It’s been almost 30 years since I moved to Kansas City. As long as I’ve been here, I correlate summers with the Royals. If you’ve ever lived in Kansas City, you know the feeling, and how can you not?
There was George Brett, Mike Macfarlane, Johnny Damon, Kevin Appier, and Jeff Montgomery. Add in Mike Sweeny, Carlos Beltran, Zack Greinke, and David DeJesus to the mix of fan favorites. Then came Alex Gordon, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Salvador Perez, Yordano Ventura and the nastiest backend of a bullpen in major league history with Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis, and Greg Holland to win the first World Series since 1985. Now it’s Perez and Danny Duffy who remained Royal for over a decade. Whit Merrifield, Hunter Dozier, Adalberto Mondesi, Brady Singer, and Josh Staumont are the new faces of the franchise plus Bobby Witt Jr and a multitude of top pitching prospects are on the way.
For all of the names aforementioned above, it’s also hard to forget the guys like John Buck, Angel Berroa, Ken Harvey, Bob Hamelin, Jimmy Gobble, Chris Getz, and Kyle Davies. A lot of good and bad memories come and go when thinking of the Royals from 1991-2021. Mostly bad baseball, but it’s hard not to have fond memories as the Royals and Kansas City summers joined together hand in hand.
The fountain scenery inside of the stadium makes for one of the most beautiful settings in all of Major League Baseball. However, the strange backdrop behind the stadium, beyond the fountains, that features I-70, a couple of hotels, Denny’s, a BP gas station and Taco Bell that's part of the charm.
Buck Night and Fireworks Friday mingled together throughout each home stand from May through August. Who doesn’t enjoy a dollar Pepsi, hot dog, peanuts, and cracker jacks while sitting in the upper deck for a fantastic firework display after the game? It was a fun Friday night, no matter if it was a win or a loss.
The giveaways can draw quite the crowd. Bobbleheads, hats, bats, t-shirts, jerseys, and so much more. Plus, you never throw your ticket away. You could get a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts, or a free slush from Sonic, or a buy one get one free sandwich from Goodcents, or a free fountain drink… the list goes on. Anything free will get people excited.
Don’t forget about celebration games. The themed day or night games that feature something exciting for the fanbase and community. From college night for almost every school in the region, Bark at the Park, School Day at the K, and Star Wars Night, to Salute to the Negro Leagues, Hispanic Heritage Night, Girls Night Out, Pride Night, Faith and Family Night, Family Fun Day Sunday, and more. There’s something for everyone.
In 2020, the fan experience was eliminated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The season started late and fans were never allowed in the stadium throughout the entirety of the season. Sure, it was still possible to watch the boys in blue with Rex Hudler and Ryan Lefebvre on TV or listen to games with Denny Mathews on the radio. That helped a little bit. However, it just wasn’t the same as being able to get out to the ballpark and enjoy everything the game day experience has to offer.
The stadium opened back up in limited capacity to start the 2021 season. The Royals hot start got fans excited to get back to the stadium but the expectations have tempered a bit after the team cooled down in recent weeks. However, starting on May 31, Kaufman Stadium will be opened up to full capacity and the team is ready for your full support.
Enjoy these times with friends and family. Don’t take for granted the ability to go out to the ballpark and watch baseball in person this year. Sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” together as loud as you can. Go crazy to try and get on the CrownVision. High five a stranger (and then put on some hand sanitizer). This is what getting back to normal feels like.
Concentrate really hard and you can imagine the smell of the stadium now as you’re reading this. Spilled beer mixed with leftover smoke from the pre-game tailgate parties. There’s stepped on peanut shells, popcorn, cotton candy being passed and BBQ nachos in a helmet. It's the humidity lingering through the stadium, a slight mist from the fountains and fresh-cut grass on the field. There’s nothing quite like it. It’s summer in Kansas City. It’s Royals baseball.