Today was another early morning rise for me and another trip to the local Greyhound terminal.
This ride was one of the shortest and most pleasant bus trips of all I’d taken so far. It was a straight shot across the breath of Missouri on I-70 with some really nice vistas of the Missouri countryside along the route. The bus itself was filled with equally pleasant and friendly passengers.
Being a Tuesday afternoon with the temps in the mid 90s, I pretty much had the whole area to myself. I can’t even imagine how much this part of town must have been jumping last year when the Royals were in the World Series, or on most weekends for that matter. Anyway, getting service at the bars was pretty easy today. Afterwards I walked over to the other side of town to a really great neighborhood called River Market on the banks of the Missouri river which had some really nice views across the way into Kansas.
The Drury Inn where I was staying at was walking distance from the stadium, but it was hardly an easy walk from the hotel to the park. I (along with MANY other patrons staying at the same hotel who came to watch the game) had to walk across 5 lanes of a busy interstate – just like playing real life Frogger! . Once across the highway, it was down a steep 30 foot embankment and through a chest high field of weeds to get to the parking lot.
There was a strong buzz of energy in the parking lot and a healthy crowd making their way to the gates. I’d imagine a few years back when the Royals sucked (for like 20 years straight) that the vibe was probably much different.
For an older ballpark it is really picturesque, well laid out and has some nice features.
The two most distinctive are the 12 story scoreboard in right field in the shape of the Royal’s crest and the iconic fountains that stretch over 300 feet across in dead center that shoot up a billion feet in the air in various colors when a Royals hitter puts one over the fence.
But my favorite feature at this park were the fans themselves. St. Louis held the title of best fans in baseball in my book for only one night because these guys here topped them. Energetic from first pitch to last out, friendly, knowledgeable an respectful of other players and non-Royals fans
I had the pleasure of sitting next to an 84 old woman (who was at the game with her older sister) who was cheering as long and as loud as anyone there. She saw I was wearing a Mets hat and asked if I was from New York. When I told her I was from Jersey, it seemed to make her day. It turns out that her and her family were born and raised in Weehawken and lived there until they all moved out to Missouri 30 years ago. I was amazed by how much this woman knew about the game of baseball, not just the history, but the strategy as well. She could have been a manager! I told her my name was Joe and that my home city was Cranford, but for some reason she kept calling me “Hoboken”. Late in the game , some guy 2 rows in front of us wearing a Zach Greinke shirt refused to sit down and was blocking her view. After refusing to listen to her complaints and threats, she got up ans physically threw him down into his seat. Pretty impressive.
The game itself was entertaining as well. Two big time aces – former Cy Young and MVP winner Justin Verlander against Johnny Cueto who KC acquired from Cincinnati at the trade deadline. Cueto got tattooed and was given an early exit leaving to a chorus of boos, but the Royals chipped away at the lead and had the tying run on base when the final out was made for a 6-5 loss.
Tomorrow morning I am headed back to NJ and will have to say “Goodbye” to the mid-West charm and hospitality.
Fans – A+ – Everyone I spoke with , especially the elderly woman next to me was interesting, friendly and funny – and loved baseball (especially their Royals)
Features – A – One of the older parks in baseball, but wonderfully maintained. The fountains are a lot cooler in person than on TV
Location – C – Well away from the downtown Power and Light district. Getting to the game and back to my hotel on foot was a mini adventure
Food – B – Great mid-western beef and BBQ.
Game – B – Great pitching matchup. KC again this year, is one of the best teams in the AL.
Overall Experience – A – KC has some great neighborhoods which I got to enjoy (despite the heat) without any real crowds. The ballpark, despite lacking in some of the frills that the newer parks have, is one of the best in MLB. The fans were wonderful.