A KC of blue! Massive crowd, Royals rejoice
Kansas City packs streets to celebrate first title since 1985
KANSAS CITY -- It's one thing to hear 40,000 fans at packed Kauffman Stadium chant, "Let's Go Roy-als."
It's another thing to celebrate before an estimated 800,000.
"It," closer Wade Davis said, "was breathtaking."
Royals fans crammed the streets, sidewalks, hills and rooftops in downtown Kansas City for the World Series celebration parade on Tuesday afternoon, perhaps as many as 800,000 fans, estimated by city officials, in all, with at least 200,000 of those wedged in and around historic Union Station, creating a stunning sea of Royal blue.
Kansas City expected anywhere from 300,000-500,000 fans on hand, but outfielder Jarrod Dyson estimated the crowd at "a cool million."
This was a day for Royals fans to give one final salute to their championship team, which knocked off the Mets in Game 5 on Sunday night to capture the franchise's first World Series title since 1985. And it also was a day for the Royals to salute the fans, which they did, wearing T-shirts and sweatshirts that read, "Thank You Kansas City."
"Seeing this just makes it so special," first baseman Eric Hosmer said overlooking the masses. "It's what you worked so hard for. After getting so close last year and having a chance to come back again this year with the same group of guys ... it's just so special.
"You look at every building, on the streets, on the roofs, people are jam-packed out there. It means so much to all of us to have this moment with our fans."
The parade started at the Sprint Center as players, coaches and executives rode in individual vehicles through the city streets before winding up at Union Station and at the victory stage. And once there, it was time for the Royals to give back.
"I can't tell you how much fun this is," owner David Glass said to roars from the crowd. "You fans are so fantastic -- no way in the world we could have done this without you."
To thunderous cheers, manager Ned Yost took the stage and talked about how his team grew up in the Minors together just for this moment -- to win a World Series championship. Yost then ordered the fans to "Celebrate!"
The familiar chant of "Moooooooose" filled the air as third baseman Mike Moustakas grabbed the microphone.
"I just want to thank you for being there all the time," Moustakas said to more cheers of "Moooooooose."
At times, the fans took over, chanting "Salvy! Salvy!"
Salvador Perez, the World Series Most Valuable Player Award winner, obliged and thanked the fans before grabbing the always-shy Lorenzo Cain, dragging him to the front of the stage and taking a "Salvy selfie" with Cain -- an ocean of blue in the background.
"We love you guys," Cain said, waving to even more cheers.
One by one the Royals thanked the fans, from general manager Dayton Moore, the architect of this team, to Alex Gordon, the face of the team, to Yordano Ventura, the future of the team who saw no need for an interpreter on this day and said in perfect English, "Thank you! We work hard every day for you!"
Then came chants of "Eddie! Eddie!" for another World Series hero, right-hander Edinson Volquez, who pitched Game 1 without the knowledge that his father had died hours earlier, then pitched Game 5 with a heavy heart after returning from his father's funeral in the Dominican Republic.
"I'm really excited to be here today," Volquez said, before admitting that he might cry.
Later, Volquez declared, "You guys are going to see us go back to the World Series next year and win it all again because we are the best team in baseball."
More deafening ovations.
Christian Colon, the Game 5 hero who knocked in the go-ahead run in the 12th inning in his first at-bat of the postseason, told the crowd, "I stayed prepared because I care so much for the organization."
And, of course, there was legendary Hall of Famer George Brett, who was on the team that spurred the last World Series parade here in 1985.
"I played on the 1985 world championship team, and I've followed this team, and I want to congratulate them for two things," Brett told the crowd. "One, for winning the championship in 2015 and two, for becoming the greatest team in Kansas City Royals history! These guys are the best team ever!"
Outfielder Jonny Gomes, who was acquired midseason to be a veteran presence, provided the most emphatic speech to the crowd.
"It's unbelievable what those boys did," Gomes said. "It's unbelievable what they did! It's unbelievable what they did! They stole bases, they hit homers. Hey guess what, Cy Young winner, not on our team, beat him. Rookie of the Year, not on our team, we beat him. MVP of the whole league, [turns around] sorry guys, not on our team. But we beat that guy too! You know why we beat them. Because all of you all people had our backs."
For all involved, the celebration simply couldn't have turned out better on a sun-kissed, gorgeous November day as fans witnessed the complete revival of an organization, and what now seems an uncontrollable love affair between a team and its fans.
"I'm just overwhelmed with so many emotions," said Grace Williams, a 16-year-old fan from Liberty, Mo. "I am so happy for our team. It's amazing to see the entire community coming out. It's incredible."
It certainly was, for young and old.
"I've been a Royals' fan since I can remember," said Brian McMillan of Spring Hill, Kan. "This will definitely be one of those days that I'll tell my kids about many years from now. I am never going to forget this day.
"I didn't come to the parade in 1985, so that's why I came to this one. You shouldn't miss two championship parades in a lifetime."