Jeff Herr, a finalist in the 2011 Big Gig Contest on 610 Sports Radio, was born and raised in Kansas City. Following the Chiefs, Royals, and Jayhawks all his life has led him to blog about all three extensively at the-jeff-report.blogspot.com. He has also spent time covering the Royals for the blog site kingsofkauffman.com as well as serving for a period as the lead editor of throughthephog.com a blog covering the Kansas Jayhawks. When not writing about the local sports scene, he pays the bills by serving as an accountant.
Jeff Herr: Kansas City is the Real All-Star
by Jeff Herr,posted Jul 9 2012 11:03AM
It’s no secret how much I love Kansas City. I was born here, have lived here all my life (outside of a brief stint in college), and have as much KC pride as anybody. People not from Kansas City have often asked me about my love for the sports teams here. They want to know if I would still love these teams if they moved away.
The answer isn’t exactly simple. If the Royals moved away and I had no other baseball team in KC to follow, I would probably still be a fan. If I’m going to be a fan of baseball and it’s a team not in my city I might as well be a fan of the one I’m most familiar with. That said, if a new baseball team were to come here, they would be my new favorite team.
Sports teams and the cities they’re in have a symbiotic relationship like this. While sports don’t directly affect our lives any more than we allow them to, we look at these teams as representatives of us. When they put the "KC" on their cap or helmet they are a uniform representation our city on the field of play.
Recent years have not lent to this being a good representation. Over the last 20 years the Royals have had their struggles with multiple 100 loss seasons. For much of the time since their World Series championship, they have toiled in relative obscurity.
With the All-Star weekend in full swing the eye of the national media is being directed towards Kansas City more than it has since that 1985 championship. With that come articles and questions about the Royals struggles and how beaten down the fanbase has gotten over the years.
While those articles are out and the questions are rightfully asked, other news will come out about KC as well. The national media will be writing (and have already written some) about Kansas City expressing how much they enjoy all the things we are proud of. The barbeque is already a big hit (I tried to go to Oklahoma Joe’s at 2:00 on Saturday only to find the line out the door and around the corner after two busloads of people were brought in). People love the layout of the city, the stadiums, and of course all the people.
The members of the national media I’ve talked to have only expressed how much they enjoy Kansas City. People from the coasts or the larger Midwest cities like Chicago talk about how they like the city much more than they thought they would. Poor sports teams and constantly being reminded of its “small market” nature lends itself to a less than stellar national reputation. I’ve always found it interesting how much people who’ve never been to Kansas City think of it as more rural than it is. And this leads to many people being pleasantly surprised about how much they enjoy this town.
What they’re really finding out is not only is Kansas City a major city, but we can put on one hell of a show. Most people outside of this town probably questioned why the All-Star game was even brought here. But for those that arrived Friday or Saturday, they quickly found out why.
New visitors will see just how passionate the denizens of this city truly are. Based on our team’s performance over the past 20 years most probably wouldn’t think the Royals have been averaging 23,558 people per night (http://espn.go.com/mlb/attendance). We don’t get the moniker of “best fans in baseball” or even close, but perhaps we should. Even in a year with the All-Star game in town you’d be hard pressed to find as dedicated of a fanbase in many other cities after putting up with all we’ve gone through.
Beyond our passion people have also learned how much the city has to offer for both sports and non-sports fans alike. On Saturday hall of famers Frank Robinson, Dave Winfield, and Hank Aaron all made their way to the Negro League Baseball Museum at 18th & Vine. The museum is a crucial part of sports history and is run incredibly well by president Bob Kendrick. Fox filmed an interview with Kendrick and will be showing a special in the All-Star pregame about the museum and what it means to baseball. Most people probably didn’t realize there was such a museum, let alone that it resides in Kansas City.
Fan Fest may be run by the MLB but with the help of this city it has been one of the biggest and best yet. According to JJ Cooper last night’s Futures Game had attendance of 40,095 and called it “easily [the] best futures game crowd ever, not even close,” on twitter. The same things will most likely be said about the Home Run Derby tonight as well as the actual All-Star Game itself tomorrow.
This is the rare exception of a time when a sporting event can show the separation between the city and its team. While Kansas City only has their one token All-Star in Billy Butler (even though it was overdue and 100% deserving), the city has shown itself to be the true All-Star. As Bob Fescoe said on Twitter recently and I happen to agree: “MLB will leave Kansas City and realize, ‘this is the best all star game in the last 20 years.”
This will be great and possibly even lead to the All-Star Game coming back sooner than 39 years from now. It has been and will continue to be a flawless showing by our city. KC has something to be excited about in baseball for the first time in a long time.