The Baker Orange

Two days in September: The Kansas City story

Story by Jim Joyner, Writer

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Last Tuesday night, I hugged people I had never met, high-fived 45 consecutive people, and told little kids to not go to school the next day because it was a holiday. All because of a Kansas City sports team.

Monday, Sept. 29 and Tuesday, Sept. 30, may have been the most important days in the history of Kansas City sports, and I was in attendance for both.

Monday Night Football

On Monday, Sept. 29, the Kansas City Chiefs played in their 39th Monday Night Football game, hosting the New England Patriots and three-time Super Bowl champion quarterback Tom Brady.

I showed up for the game at Arrowhead Stadium around 3:30 p.m. and we set up the tailgate.

One thing I love to do before the game is walk around the parking lot and see the excitement in the fans. The great thing about being a KC fan is, no matter who the Chiefs are playing, the time, the weather, the Kansas City fans always come out and have a good time.

Although New England is far removed from the Super Bowls wins in the early 2000s, it’s still the New England Patriots, which always makes for a big game and turn out from the team’s fans.

During the tailgate, I talked with a New England couple who flew in from Boston to see the game. I asked them why they made the trip, and their main reason was the fantastic tailgating that Kansas City offers on game days.

About an hour before kickoff, we got to our seats and mentally prepared ourselves for the long night ahead. We watched as the Golden Knights parachute team flew into the stadium from thousands of feet in the air.

The singing of the national anthem was one of the greatest moments I’ve ever had at a Chiefs game. Season ticket holders carried an American flag that was as long and wide as the field itself. Then, the U.S. Marine Corps Band played the anthem and fans sang with them. It was a moment that sent a chill through my body.

The game was amazing, but the crowd was even better. It was so loud that I couldn’t hear the announcer, the music, or the people sitting next to me.

The fans didn’t just break the “loudest stadium” record, they destroyed it. The previous record of 136.6 decibels was set by the half-dome CenturyLink Field in Seattle. Arrowhead Stadium registered a crowd roar of 142.2 decibels.

It was the Chiefs’ first home win since October 27, 2013. This was a win to put KC back on the map, and for the Chiefs to redeem themselves after a 34-3 Monday night loss in 2011 at New England.

One more great moment occurred during the third quarter when the Chiefs fans stood up and started the chanting, “Let’s go Royals.” 76,613 fans cheering for the next door neighbors in what was probably the loudest collective Royals chant ever. That made Tuesday night even more special.

Blue October

After 29 years of baseball-less Octobers in Kansas City, the time had finally come. The Royals were playing in the American League Wild Card game against the Oakland Athletics.

The Royals fell one game short of the Central Division title, and the Athletics had an absolute collapse in August and September. The A’s were 28 games over .500 on Aug. 9 and had MLB’s best record. Oakland collapsed and Los Angeles surged as the A’s dropped into the Wild Card game in Kansas City, where they had lost three out of four games in August.

I bought tickets for the Wild Card game the day they were available. The best seat I could get was section 423 and three rows from the top of Kauffman Stadium. In reality, there isn’t a bad seat at the ballpark so I wasn’t complaining.

We got to the parking lot at 3:30 p.m. and set up the tailgate again. We grilled some hot dogs and brats and just soaked in the playoff atmosphere at Truman Sports Complex. Some people were still excited about the previous night’s big win for the Chiefs.

We made our way to the gates about 5:30 p.m. and took a lap around the park. The last time I had been at Kauffman this late in the season was Oct. 3, 2012, when Miguel Cabrera clinched the first Triple Crown award since 1967.

After the national anthem and fly-over, the fans started waving their blue rally-towels and the madness began. Nobody sat down for the first inning until Oakland hit a two-run home run. The fans got right back into the game in the bottom half when Billy Butler drove in a run to make it a one-run game.

The Royals scored two in the third and I thought the stadium would cave in. A 3-2 lead and with the Royals’ great bullpen, I was sure this one was as good as over.

As we all know, baseball doesn’t make much sense. The A’s scored five runs in the sixth to go ahead 7-3 and put a sock in the hopes for a Royals playoff.

The Royals didn’t score in the sixth. The Royals didn’t score in the seventh.

The only thing I could think about was how this was a terrible ending to the greatest season I’ve ever witnessed as a Royals’ fan. We put our rally caps on in the eighth inning; we should have put our seat belts on.

The Royals’ offense came alive and cut the lead to one and we went to the ninth with a chance. Greg Holland did his job, and it was time for the Royals to do theirs.

The Cinderella story unfolded before our eyes. A hit, a bunt, a steal, a sacrifice fly. We were going to extra innings and I had never been so happy in my entire life.

The roller coaster finished with a bumpy ride in the 10th and 11th and once again hope was lost in the 12th. With the Royals down to their final two outs, the rally began again.

With the game tied, Salvador Perez gave the Royals the most dramatic win in team history and the stadium erupted. After 15 years of going to Kauffman Stadium, I was rewarded with the most incredible game I’ve ever seen.

The most confusing thing to me the next day was trying to explain the experience. I was at a loss for words. I had cried that night while watching the Royals celebrate, and listening to the final play still almost pushes me over the edge. The night had so many ups and downs and emotions that almost a week later I still can’t describe with any other word than “unbelievable.”

I was at MLS Cup last year when Sporting KC won the title and that was fantastic. But these were the most amazing nights in Kansas City sports history. And I was there.