Worth the wait: Buttry boys celebrate 2015 Royals

2 11 2015

What a team

Mike, Joe and Tom Buttry waited 30 years for this. So did their Dad.

I’ve loved the Yankees since I was 5, falling in love from Utah as a little boy. I was born in Romulus, not the Bronx, but I knew I was from New York, so I cheered them against the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates until Bill Mazeroski broke my young heart. But the next year was a great year to turn a young love into a lifelong loyalty, so I am a Yankee fan.

I happily embraced the Royals as my second team when we moved to Kansas City in 1985 (though that was heresy to Royal fans). I was going to spend a lot of time at the ballpark, so I quickly developed a second love. I remained faithful to my first love, though, wearing my Yankee gear and cheering for New York only when my first love visited town. I was sort of a baseball bigamist.

I took my sons (8, 4 and 2 at the time) out to the ballpark regularly, intending to make them baseball fans and tell them about all the Yankees’ glorious years, including some great victories over the Royals and one painful loss. I would instill in them a lifelong love of baseball and the Yankees.

Mike, Tom, Joe and me, Game Two of the 2014 World Series, back in our old seats

Mike, Tom, Joe and me, Game Two of the 2014 World Series, back in our old seats

Well, I only partly succeeded. Sons don’t always listen to the Old Man (who knew?). They remember all those Yankee stories only for trash-talking purposes (I might have succeeded in teaching that).

But they did become lifelong baseball fans. And Royal fans. And loyal fans. I guess if you’re going to take your sons to the ballpark a lot, you should expect them to fall in love with the team they were watching.

Well, they did. The Royals were good when we were in Kansas City, from that 1985 championship season to 1991, and even the not-quite-championship seasons included cherished memories of George Brett, Bo Jackson and Bret Saberhagen.

But after we left Kansas City, the Royals started to suck. For more than two decades. But, like their Dad, the Buttry boys stayed loyal to their first love.

As I recounted last year, we all met in Kansas City for Game Two of the 2014 World Series, when the Royals were on the verge of another championship, but fell 90 feet short of tying Game Seven.

Vows

Tom and Ashley’s wedding, father of the groom at center, bottom of the photo in blue cap.

Because I had brain surgery in August, I wore a Royals cap at Tom’s wedding in a wooded setting in Maryland on Oct. 10, a travel day in the American League Division Series with Houston. The family worried about acorns hitting my fragile dome, so Mike supplied a cap, and I stuffed a washcloth between cap and skull for extra padding. And we celebrated all weekend, with lots of anticipation for more celebration to come.

greatest monthMooseBecause of my medical treatment (I watched Game Two from the hospital), we couldn’t meet again this year, but we all watched every inning, bantering constantly by text, occasionally by phone or email.

Some text messages reflected those conversations of 30 years ago, when I tried to help the boys manage along with Dick Howser and later Royal managers. We’d speculate or argue about whether it was time yet for Wade Davis to enter the game or whether to steal a base or send a runner. We’d express confidence that this resilient would come back. And then we shared our joy in the comeback.

Mike attended Game Two again in Kansas City. Tom attended Game Four in New York, wearing the jersey of Mike Moustakas, who turned out to be the hero of the game. Joe couldn’t make it to a game, but he and I joined by frequent text from afar, me in Baton Rouge and him in Las Vegas and San Francisco.

We all expressed confidence as the Royals entered the ninth inning, trailing a strong pitcher 2-0. The boys (men now, but when we’re talking baseball, they’re always my boys) expressed absolute confidence after the Royals rallied to tie in the top of the 9th. They went nuts when the Royals scored five runs in the top of the 12th, then held the Mets scoreless to start the celebration.

As the Yankees won five World Series between the Royals championships of 1985 and 2015, I kept encouraging the boys to come over to the Dark Side, but they never did. I enjoyed each of those Yankee victories. But I enjoyed this one even more. Because as much as I love the Yankees, I love my sons more.

My goal all along in bringing them out to the ballpark was to bring some shared joy to their lives. Done. Finally.

Patience 1

Patience 2

Advertisements