Nath Curtis, a 37-year-old Royals fan, traveled to Kansas City last month to watch his favorite team play a three-game series against the Colorado Rockies.
The trip was simple enough: Some baseball, some relaxation, some time off work, and one catch: Curtis and his wife, Debbie, had to travel more than 4,000 miles for the occasion.
Curtis, a native of Winchester, England, became a fan in 1985, when his father, a school teacher, took part in an exchange program in the Kansas City area and returned home with a bundle of Royals swag. The timing was good, of course. (1985!) But Curtis remained hooked for the next three decades, he says.
“I feel I’ve lived the ups and downs of this team alongside all the other Royals fans,” he wrote in an email to The Star.
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In three days at Kauffman Stadium, his second ever trip to the stadium, Curtis and his wife found themselves telling their story to a handful of curious fans — the accent, as you might expect, was a dead giveaway.
The Royals won two of three. Eric Hosmer hit a walk-off homer. And in an essay sent to The Star, Curtis reflected on his trip and Royals fandom. With his permission, we’re publishing his words here.
“There were many people in Kansas City who noted our distinctly non-Missourian accents and asked where we were from. Once we’d established that we were from the south of England (and no, not Australia), the reaction was the same. From the driver who got us from the airport, to the receptionist at our hotel, to the guys working the bar in the Blue Moon Tap Room, there was an air of disbelief that we’d travelled all the way from Hampshire, England, just to watch the Royals. No we hadn’t been in town to see the eclipse, this was a strictly Royals-centric trip.
“So how did “y’all” end up being Royals fans, was always the next question. My father, a schoolteacher, did a teaching exchange programme to KC one fall. One of my earliest memories, as a five year old, was of him returning with a suitcase full of Royals merch. The year was 1985 and just like that I was hooked.
“As I stepped into the K Tuesday night for the opener of the Rockies series, my memories of the last and only other time I’ve been here, were vague. That was 1997 and an I-70 series. How this organisation has changed since then.
“Being a Royals fan in England before the internet age was a frustrating experience. The only way of keeping track was to check the small-print of the Sunday newspapers. You got the scores from the previous week all at once. If you were lucky they printed the standings. And that was it.
“The modern era is very different. With the combination of internet HD-TVs and MLB.com, I watch as many Royals live games on TV as life and time differences will allow. So when a short break in my work schedule gave me the chance to travel to watch this Championship-winning team before it’s inevitable break-up, I just couldn’t turn that down.
“I’m used to this organisation putting its fans through the mill, and this series was no exception. Countless innings of one run ball across the three games did nothing for my finger nails. But out of that tension comes moments in time. Moments that made this trip memorable for the long term.
“Scott Alexander inducing a three on, two out double play in the top of the 9th on Tuesday and saving the game from a Melky mis-play and a Herrera right forearm. Hos hitting a career first walk-off homer and the incredible sound that shot made off the bat heard from our seats on the first base line. Even in game 3, a frustrating loss but one that didn’t diminish the drama and emotion of the two previous nights, had his moments. For a split second that last hit by Moose pinch-hitting for Drew [Butera] threatened to get over the wall before dying into the grateful glove of Charlie Blackmon.
“I may be 6,000 miles away but I feel I’ve lived the ups and downs of this team alongside all the other Royals fans. Seeing the talents of Hos, Cain, Escobar and Moose from 20 feet away was surreal and probably not something I’ll get the chance to do again. But then again I will be here at some point next season. And as anyone who watched this week the performances of Danny Duffy and Whit Merrifield must realise, there is hope that out of the ashes of this ring-winning team this organisation can build again.”
Nath Curtis, Winchester, England