By: Matt Horn and Nathan Rice, KCOU Sports
Sunday, October 25, 1985. After eight and half innings there wasn’t a man, woman, or child that remained sitting at then Royals Stadium. It was Game Six of the World Series, and leading the series 3-2, the Cardinals were up 1-0 in the bottom of the ninth. 41,000 fans stood and cheered as Royals pinch hitter Dane Iorg approached the plate with the bases loaded. A blooper to right drove in the two runs that Kansas City needed to win.
That cool October night might have been the loudest Kauffman Stadium has ever been… until this week. After winning Game 7 and clinching a World Series victory, the Royals failed to return to the playoffs for 28 straight seasons.
In 2014, the Royals have finally snapped the longest playoff drought in all four major US sports. Kansas City recorded 89 wins (the most since 1989) and earned themselves a wild card game against the Oakland A’s. Tuesday night’s game in KC was even more exciting than Game 6 all those years ago. After recovering from a 7-3 deficit, Kansas City was sitting in the bottom of the 12th trailing 8-7. This time it was Gold Glove winning Cather Salvador Perez who would drive in the final run for the Royals, clinching the game 9-8. And that, was more than likely the loudest Kauffman Stadium has ever been, and possibly the loudest Kansas City has ever been.
George Brett’s face said it all after the game- an overwhelming expression of joy, shock, and relief. Thus was the case throughout Kansas City. The crowded bars in Westport came alive with exhilaration, the streets of the Power and Light District were lit up with ecstatic fans, and even the quietest of homes in Waldo joyously cheered for their boys in blue.
This win wasn’t just about the Royals, it wasn’t just about a Cinderella story in the MLB, and it wasn’t just about baseball. Being in the playoffs means something to Kansas City. The Royals and the Chiefs have combined for a total of zero playoff wins since 1991. Not since the days of Joe Montana has the city been in such a state of euphoria.
Many lost hope. Slogans in recent years have read, “Stay true to Blue,” “Loyal blue,” and most embarrassingly, the 2012 slogan, “Our Time.” That team went 72-90. For the first time in a long time, Kansas City has a baseball team to be excited about. Season attendance this year was the highest it has been since the early 1990’s. According to Bleacher Report, 70% of all televisions in the Kansas City tuned in to the last fifteen minutes of the game, setting an MLB record.
Alex Gordon, Eric Hosmer, and yes, even Ned Yost have propelled this team into the playoffs and into the MLB spotlight. It has been almost 30 years since there has been so much electricity around Kansas City baseball. Only time will tell how they will fare throughout the postseason, and into the future as a dynasty builds in the heartland.