By: Megan Armstrong, KCOU Sports
Kansas City has long-awaited a baseball game with such significance for 29 years. Or rather, a September Royals game with any significance at all. On this Friday night, the first pitch of the Royals and White Sox game will be thrown in 29 minutes.
Whether the Royals enter the playoffs as the champions of the American League Central or in the wild card will be determined in the final two regular season games over the weekend. A victory in Chicago on Friday night, though, means a playoff game for the Royals — at least one.
One more than they’ve played since 1985.
Brewer’s Sports Bar and Grill is nestled on Main Street in Blue Springs, Mo. Leaves fall to the sidewalk outside the window, changing from green to red. Inside, hope is still vibrant.
My father watched Kansas City win the World Series in 1985, from afar.
He grew up in Philadelphia, Penn., loving the Pittsburgh Pirates. Roberto Clemente, to be precise. In 1991, he moved to Kansas City. He doesn’t know what it feels like to see the Royals in October. Or at least, not at a time when Kansas City was home and the Royals were his.
Chicago scores in the bottom of the eighth. Alexei Ramirez singles to drive in centerfielder Adam Eaton. It’s now 3-1. Breath is held and stomachs are clinched. And then Wade Davis strikes out Conor Gillaspie to end the eighth inning.
One out closer.
“Let’s go Royals,” the bar chants, banging on the counters. “Let’s go!”
Greg Holland seals it. The Royals win, 3-1. The 29-year curse, the longest drought in North American professional sports, is broken.
“Playoffs!” my father screams, toasting his beer.
“It’s crazy, man,” my Uncle Rick says from across the table. He shakes his head.
“It’ll be the first time since I met you that the Royals made the playoffs,” he winks at my mother.
Champagne finally cascades over the Royals, drinks and smiles flowing around him, my father’s eyes light up.
My father’s eyes are blue.