With only hours to go before the first pitch of the World Series, Royals fever has hit Sedalia.
Fans are doing all they can in preparation for the series. For some residents that means attending the games at Kauffman Stadium, while others will stay in Pettis County to attend watch parties or stay at home to view the games between the Royals and New York Mets.
“I can tell you that there is definitely a buzz about the stadium and Kansas City,” Dave Webster, educational coordinator for the Royals, said Monday morning in a phone interview from Kauffman Stadium. “It’s been really different this year, maybe because last season we breezed through the playoffs and this year we have really had to struggle to get some of our wins.
“We have been on the brink of elimination a few times and have had to battle back,” Webster added. “We’ve really had some incredible comebacks this year and hopefully we will be able to put up some more W’s for the fans.”
Webster said there are no tickets available through the Royals for the series.
“MLB takes all of the available tickets once a team wins the division for their use,” Webster said. “I’m really not sure how they allocate them.”
Tickets can be found through various ticket outlets, and potential buyers should use discretion when purchasing tickets online.
Sedalia businessman Ron Ditzfeld attended two World Series Games last year with his grandson Lincoln and granddaughter Taylor and is considering returning to later games in the series this year.
“I’ve been to World Series games before,” Ditzfeld said. “It was pretty electrifying to see it through the eyes of my grandchildren though.
“I took one to each game and bought them souvenir bats with their names engraved on them,” he added. “They really had never seen crowds like that or been to an event like that so it was special.”
One local who has season tickets said the financial rewards of those have to be considered.
“I went to two games in the Series last year,” said Brad Grupe, owner of Town and County Insurance. “Believe me there is nothing like the rush of attending a game when you go.”
Grupe is a lifelong Royals fan. He and his wife Sarah chose to name their middle son Brett after Grupe’s favorite player, George Brett.
“I know that Sarah and I are planning to take Brett and our daughter Lauren to one of the games,” Grupe said. “It makes it hard though because our oldest son Blake really wants to go too, but because of his athletic commitments to school I just don’t think it will be possible this year.”
Blake Grupe plays both soccer and is the place kicker for Smith-Cotton. With both teams seeing post season play, his commitment is his high school teams.
“I have four seats right behind the Crown seating area,” Grupe said. “I don’t plan on giving them up anytime soon so there will be other seasons for baseball.
“We actually are considering what games we will go to and what games we will sell the tickets for,” Grupe added. “With three children who will be going to college in a few years we would be crazy not to consider the financial aspect of selling the tickets.”
Grupe said there are always executives who are interested in the seats and that is how he first acquired the tickets himself.
“I had a friend who I met through business years ago who originally had the seats,” Grupe said. “He was an older man who had seats at Municipal Stadium and had the ones at Kauffman since 1972.
“One day he asked if I wanted to go to a game,” Grupe continued. “I went and of course I had a ball.”
Soon after, his friend asked if he wanted to buy some of the tickets. At first, Grupe said he would purchase a few games throughout the season, until 2000 when he acquired the four season tickets from his friend.
“I have to be honest, we have sold some of the tickets in the past,” Grupe said. “When you stop and think about what we can sell them for it just seems to make sense for us to do that when we can.”
Dean of Student and Academic Support Services at State Fair Community College Dr. Joe Gilgour will attend Wednesday night’s game with his sister Stacie Yerton.
“I’ve been a lifelong Royals fan,” Gilgour said. “My dad was able to go to Game 7 when the Royals won in ’85 so we grew up hearing all about that when we were younger.
“I was really fortunate to get to go to Game 4 when the Royals clinched the ALCS,” Gilgour added. “I was 7 when the Royals won in ’85, so to have the chance to go to this is something I have waited for virtually my whole life.”
The opportunity to go with his sister has special meaning because Yerton is battling brain cancer.
“Someone donated the two tickets for Stacie and me to go,” Gilgour said. “We’re just both really grateful to have this opportunity.”
For fans who cannot make it to a game, there are other ways to show support for the Royals.
“We’ve sold a lot more Royals merchandise since they have won the postseason and the pennant,” said Jessica Hofheins, manager of Hibbett Sports. “We get whatever is new as soon as it is printed, including the shirts the players have in the locker rooms after they win a series.”
Hofheins said their customers buy a lot of clothing for memorabilia.
“A lot of our customers will buy T-shirts and hats on the way to a game, but we also have a lot who tell us they are going to wear it to a watch party or for work.” she added.
Hibbett Sports is planning to be open if the Royals win the series.
“We’ll open up probably 30 minutes after the last game of the series if the Royals win no matter what game that is,” Hofheins said. “We will have Royals World Series Championship merchandise available that night for our customers.”
Several local establishments will be hosting watch parties for the games.
“We’ll have the game and sound on all 13 TVs so our customers can watch from every angle,” Fitter’s General Manager Ethan Richardson said. “We’ve been working with the owners to come up with some food and drink specials for the games as well.
“We have a lot of Royals fans who have turned out for all the playoff games,” Richardson added. “Friday night when they clinched the pennant you could hardly walk through here it was just packed.”
After the heartbreak for Royals fans last year, losing the seventh game of the series to the Giants, Royals faithful feel this is their year.
“Last year we were so close to winning it all,” Webster said. “I think this is going to be our year when we capture our first title since 1985.
“Let’s put it this way,” he added. “There are 28 teams sitting at home right now; we’re determined we’re going to be the last team standing.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484