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Die-Hard And Fair-Weather Fans Alike Have A Case Of Royals Fever


Baseball's World Series is now tied at one game apiece. The San Francisco Giants, they're no strangers to this big stage. The Kansas City Royals are a true Cinderella story. Even around my neighborhood in Washington, D.C., I've seen people proudly wearing their royal-blue hats. And just that taste has made me want to know what it feels like in Kansas City these days. Suzanne Hogan from member station KCUR is about to tell us.

SUZANNE HOGAN, BYLINE: My grandma, Jean Hogan - or Grammy as we call her - has seen a lot of baseball. She's the type of fan who goes to Arizona to watch the preseason.

Happy birthday, birthday girl.

JEAN HOGAN: Oh, thank you dear.

HOGAN: And on her 91st birthday last week, the Royals gave her a gift - a return to the World Series, the first time since 1985. On that day, last Wednesday, October 15, every generation of Kansas City Royals fan felt pure elation.

The Scanlan kids - Tate, Libby, and Bo and their buddy, John Green, are in elementary school. Older fans of the past 29 years and beyond have known Royals failure, Royals mediocrity and now victory. But these younger kids have only known the brighter days. They fled to the streets, standing in front of an iconic Kansas City fountain - dyed blue for the Royals. They waved handmade go Royals signs written on notebook paper - cars honking as they pass by.

JOE ZWILLENBERG: There's a lot of people waving, and people are cutting each other off in traffic. Yeah, it's like, hey, come on in. It's no worries. You know, it's rush-hour. Your turn.

HOGAN: Joe Zwillenberg owns the Westport Flea Market - a burger place in Midtown. He's been insanely busy since the postseason started, offering 1985 prices on a five-and-a-half ounce burger with a side of curly fries. Instead of $6.99, he's charging $2.99.

ZWILLENBERG: I didn't know it'd go on this long.

HOGAN: But it has. And Zwillenberg, a huge Royals fan, is fine with that. His restaurant is doing four times its usual business.

ZWILLENBERG: Todd, what are you having, big guy?

TODD: The '85.

HOGAN: Fans just can't shake this idea that we might be re-creating what happened in 1985, like Andy Barrie - a guy who's been holding onto a plastic bag of field dirt from the winning 1985 World Series game. He's been finding a way to get the dirt sprinkled onto the field for every home game this postseason for good luck.

ANDY BARRIE: It's just dirt, but I'm doing it because it's fun. Everybody wants to help, and once you start a tradition or a superstition, then you really need to keep it going.

HOGAN: All this Royals madness in October has been, to be honest, kind of unexpected in Kansas City. Most people weren't really thinking about the possibility of Royals' baseball in October when they were planning fall events like, oh, their wedding or weekend getaways or a punk show.

DANNY PARLMAN: After the wild-card game, I think I was just like, oh, no, like that's going to be on the same night. I didn't know what to do.

HOGAN: Danny Parlman and her fiance are screen printing artists and big-time fans. And like a lot of folks, they've been making the best of being double booked. On the first night of the series, Parlman decided to combine the events - a Royals watch party with a punk show after.

PARLMAN: So many of our friends are baseball fans, and, like, I don't know anybody who's going to be able to go to one of these World Series games. So we like the idea of, like, doing something really special for everybody.

SUZANNE HOGAN, BYLINE: Now that it's tied 1-1, Royals fans are hoping they can get another winning streak going so they can build on the momentum that got them to the World Series. They're hoping they can - as they've been saying - take the crown this year like they did back in 1985. For NPR News, I'm Suzanne Hogan in Kansas City. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Suzanne Hogan graduated from the College of Santa Fe in New Mexico, with a degrees in Political Science and Documentary Studies. Her interests include Latin American politics, immigration and storytelling in a variety of mediums including photography, film/video and writing.
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