It’s really more than just a hat.
Earlier this year, Cory Graham and I, in an effort to pay some sort of tribute to our old friend KC Jones, who had unexpectedly died, decided we should probably become Kansas City Royals fans. The reason was purely superficial: the Royals’ cap featured the letters “KC,” and we’d had more than few conversations over the years that our KC should be a fan of that KC. Not only would he have personalized caps (or shirts or jackets or whatever piece of Royals memorabilia he desired), he’d also be rooting for an obscure small-market team in an area surrounded by fans of the Yankees, Cardinals, Braves and Reds. Basically, our friend would stand out.
Like most of the ideas Cory and I have brainstormed over the years, this plan disappeared, as we got too busy with other things.
Now, about nine months later, the Royals are on some sort of enchanted run, having so far swept through the playoffs to become the first team in history to start the postseason with eight consecutive wins. The old idea kept gnawing at me, and as I talked with Cory and a few other baseball fans, it became clear that it was absolutely time to join the Kansas City bandwagon — I finally bought that hat.
I wish I could say this was some sort of team of destiny, forever tied to the memory of our friend as they somehow win games and series they shouldn’t have stood a chance in, but that’s just simply not true. Baseball, despite writers’ romantic insistence on making the game a metaphor for life, is, in fact, just a game. Nothing the Royals do on the field can bring back our friend.
It can, however, trigger our memories.
Tonight when the Royals start the World Series against the San Francisco Giants, I’m going to drift back to the mid-1990s when we sat at Delta Gas while others cruised around town and the world revolved around us.
I hope his family knows he’s being thought of and remembered. I hope they know he meant something then. I hope they know he means something now.
So, go Royals. This one’s for KC.