Kevin Smith can still vividly remember his father taking him to Royals Stadium when he was a kid to watch Kansas City win the World Series in 1985.
It was a memory he wanted to create for his son, Timothy. So the next generation of Smiths made the same fateful drive to Kansas City from Wichita to watch the Royals play in the World Series last fall.
But this time, they got to see the trophy up close and take a picture with it.
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The Smiths were among nearly 1,000 Royals fans that flocked to Academy Sports on Tuesday night for a photo opportunity with the World Series trophy that has been on tour across the Midwest this month.
“That was so cool,” said Kevin after having his picture taken with his 7-year-old son. “I never got to do that when I was a kid, so hopefully he will remember this because this is something special.”
The trophy, along with a small team of Royals employees, has been in four states and 16 cities the past three weeks. Keith Kowalski, the Royals’ regional marketing manager, said the tour has produced several powerful moments.
“I think the coolest has been a few people have brought pictures of loved ones who would have loved to have taken a picture of the trophy,” Kowalski said. “We’ve had people stand there in amazement and tear up when they walk away just because they’re in awe of it. It’s been really awesome to see how the Royals have brought so many people together.”
Fans of all ages were in attendance on Tuesday, but the highlights included all of the 1985 – the last time the Royals won the World Series – gear that dotted the crowd.
Lyle Orman, 53, of Wichita, said he attended the first game at Royals Stadium when it opened in 1973 and was hooked on Royals baseball ever since.
He wasn’t able to attend a World Series game in 1985, but didn’t want to let another opportunity pass by last fall. He was in attendance for 14-inning marathon that was Game 1 and he can still remember how happy he felt when the Royals closed out the series in five games.
“It’s just incredible,” Orman said looking back at the trophy. “I never thought I would get a chance to see a World Series trophy. That’s not something you get to do every day.”
The trophy symbolized more than just what the Royals won to Jim West, 69, and his wife, Suzanne, 67. The couple actually met at a Royals game and raised a family of five around Royals baseball.
They haven’t attended as many games since moving to Wichita in 2002, but they still catch every game on the television or radio.
On Tuesday, the couple couldn’t pass up a chance to come see the trophy and all of the memories that came flooding back. Jim and Suzanne posed behind the trophy, holding hands, and when they got their phone back and looked at the picture Suzanne began tearing up.
“It means so much to us,” Suzanne said. “We have so many good memories because of this team.”
“We’re going to send this one to our kids,” Jim said, beaming. “I think they’re going to be jealous.”