World Series 2015: Royals fans make sure kids have unforgettable Kauffman experience
KANSAS CITY, Mo. It’s become my own little tradition to take a couple laps around the Kauffman Stadium concourse about an hour before first pitch of Royals playoff games.There have been a lot of playoff games at Kauffman the past two years, so I’ve made a lot of laps, and no trip is ever the same. I’ll see great signs (like this one) and clever shirts (like this one) and old relics busted out for the special occasion (this one probably should have stayed at home). It’s just a great atmosphere, meandering through the Royals fans.MORE: Top World Series photos | Five takeaways from Game 2I noticed one day that the Royals Authentics store the shop Matt Duffy Jersey on the main concourse that sells high-end autographed memorabilia, such as jerseys and plaques and balls and bats offers authenticated baseballs that were used that day, starting in the seventh inning.The detail offered with each baseball is impre sive. The label tells the pitcher and the batter and what happened to the baseball, things like pitch in dirt or fouled back to screen or groundball to SS, FC. The cost-per-baseball is on a sliding scale.For the ALCS, prices started at $110. If the ball was put in play, that bumps the number up $20 or so. An infield single for the Royals? You’re looking at $200.An RBI double by a Royals player? Probably pushing $400. A line forms, starting in the sixth, I was told.I was curious. I wanted to know what kind of people line up for this event. For Game 6 of the ALCS, I was there at the beginning of the seventh inning to find out. I introduced myself to the store manager and told him why I was there.Talk to that guy, he said nodding to a guy wearing blue-and-white striped Royals pants.And that’s how I met Shane Brown.He was in line for the second time, to purchase a second Game 6-used baseball for the ALCS, it was a strict one-baseball-per-time-through-the-line rule. But Brown wasn’t buying game-used baseballs for himself or any of his friends, or for his wife, Christy Green.He was buying the baseballs for kids he didn’t know a couple hours earlier.I just like to see people have fun at a ballgame, he told me. Lot of people just come and say, well, it’s a ball game. There’s more to it. You’ve got to keep the youth involved.That’s what Shane and Christy do. They make sure kids have fun at the ballpark. They’ll talk with the families in their section (they’re partial-season ticket holders), about baseball and who the kids’ favorite players are. And then they’ll go buy an unforgettable surprise.You said you like Eric Hosmer, right? Here’s the ball he hit for a single in the third.That kind of thing. How cool is that?For Game 6, Shane https://www.raysedge.com/tampa-bay-rays/denard-span-jersey bought a pint-sized Lorenzo Cain fan the ball that Cain hit for his third-inning single. He was trying to find a Mike Moustakas ball for a Moose fan, but the store didn’t have any baseballs from Game 6 in stock. So he went with Alcides Escobar, the fan-favorite shortstop who would be named the ALCS MVP after the Royals clinched their trip to the World Series.Shane’s an engineer and an Army vet originally from South Carolina. Christy’s a pediatrician and a Kansas City native. They both have very big hearts, obviously.It started out with kids in our section, that we’d seen game after game, Christy says. There were a couple kids with special needs, autism, Down Syndrome. There were kids that sat behind us who Evan Longoria Jersey had never been to a baseball game before, so we got them hats. It just kind of has grown.They got the idea of giving away baseballs this May, when they were at Alex’s Lemonade Stand, which is Alex Gordon’s charity. The folks running the event were selling baseballs autographed by Royals players, and at the end of the event, Shane and Christy bought all of the ones that hadn’t sold. They literally walked away with a big yellow bucket of 17 autographed baseballs they gave to kids who were on their way to the game.Just to see the kids’s smile doing that, Shane says, I was like, ‘aw, hell, every game I’m gonna find one or two kids and give them a game-used ball.They’ve had to change it up a bit in the World Series, though, as prices took a ma sive jump. Game-used bases are selling for $3,000, and even vials of dirt sell for $125.Game-used baseballs start at $800 and rapidly escalate. For example, the ball that Wade Davis used to strike out Yoenis Cespedes in the 10th inning of Game 1 was listed at $1,250. The really special game-used World Series baseballs are being auctioned on MLB.com the ball Escobar hit for the inside-the-park home run in the first inning of Game 1 is at $3,500.So it’s been more budget-friendly World Series hats the past couple of games. The smiles haven’t changed, though. The surprise is as appreciated as ever.We’ll go back to baseballs again next year, Christy says with a laugh.