Pinky-Swears, World Series Crowns, and Our Town

I’m not certain when or how a pinky-swear took on more serious meaning and significance than any other kind of swear. Or promise. Siri probably knows.

But in our house, it’s the highest form of commitment. Sure, our word should be enough, but most times, when something is really on the line, our kids make us pinky-swear.

Setting the alarm for the first day of middle school. Getting Lamar’s donuts on Saturday mornings. Or Sheridan’s ice cream if donuts don’t work for some reason. Waking them up from a deep sleep, after a crazy long Halloween weekend, to watch the Royals take the crown.

Little man playing catch on the farm this evening.

All of these things are pinky-swear worthy.

Down 2-0, the Mets’ ace rolling, eyes getting droopy, and me playing the “we’ll get ’em at home in Game 6” card (haven’t I learned not to count these guys out), we put our five kids to bed. In about the 6th inning. It had been an insane weekend after all – Halloween parties, a big Chiefs win, family photos on the farm, church, late nights of Royals baseball Friday and Saturday, a soccer game, you name it.

Brooke and Silas playing catch, while Addi waits her turn.
Brooke and Silas playing catch, while Addi waits her turn.

Brooke folded some laundry. I uploaded a half dozen pictures to Instagram of our time on the farm. We half paid attention to the game, half shifted our minds to the coming Monday morning.

Harvey was mowing through our lineup so quickly that I looked at the time on my phone and got excited it was going to be an early night.

They’ll get ’em at home in Game 6. As usual, little did I know.

My mind wandered a bit at that point. I recalled a comment I made on Saturday when I was telling a good friend about a wild idea I have. I told him, “I can’t imagine a better time in the history of this city to live here.” Kansas City that is.

It’s not the biggest city in the world. It doesn’t have breathtaking beaches. Or the most businesses.

It’s been called “flyover country”. It will never make the “best weather” lists. It doesn’t top the “hot jobs” market reports.

But what it lacks in national popularity, it makes up in “you just have to come see it firsthand” charm.

There’s something magical about it. And for those of you that live here, you know that there is a stirring that can’t be articulated but certainly can’t be ignored either.

It’s my hometown. It’s Brooke’s hometown. It’s our children’s hometown.

We moved away from it twice. Thinking the grass was greener. But maybe the grass is greenest where you water it? Each time we came home.

This gritty, nimble, hungry, loving, chippy, proud, connected, relentless, city is coming of age. Right before our eyes.

I had a conversation with a big time former NFL player that could have lived anywhere in the world. But after his playing days in Kansas City, he and his wife said, “nope, we’re not moving back. This is home.”

I have a client that retired from the job that moved him here in the first place. “No chance we’re leaving,” he told me over coffee one morning a few weeks ago.

The stories are endless like that. Friends, colleagues, neighbors. Planting roots deep in Kansas City.

This “town” as we like to call it, our town, has been waiting for this baseball moment for 30 years.

For decades, three of them to be exact, I was told (and had started to tell my kids): “there’s always next year.”

That’s the beautiful thing about sports. Hope knows no bounds. Get ’em next year.

The laundry got stacked neatly, I got caught up on Twitter and Instagram, and I realized it was the bottom of the 8th.

Fox’s broadcast crew came back from break saying, “you won’t believe what happened after the top of the 8th in the dugout…”

Similar to how I get worked over when our kids come to me after Brooke has already told them no on something (and because I’m soft, lots of times I say yes – working on that, ha), Harvey was told news he didn’t like from his pitching coach. He said “no way” a hundred times to him, bypassed his direction and went straight to the top guy. The manager.

“No way. No way. No way.”

I yelled at the TV, “YOU’RE THE COACH”. Probably because I’ve fallen prey to that trick a hundred times, I knew he was going to let that pitcher back out there. The emotion of the moment overruled the principles of the process.

Bottom 8 comes and goes, and Brooke looks at me and said, “should we wake the kids up? I have a good feeling.”

We pinky-swore after all. Not yet, if we take the lead here, we’ll rewind it and then go wake them up. Beauty of technology I guess.

Sure enough Harvey runs out to the mound in the top of the 9th. The Big Apple doing its best to big-time little ole’ Kansas City.

But like its city, the Royals never said die.

Cain, Silas’ favorite player, works a lead-off walk. Silas draws #6 on the back of his shirts in Sharpie. Mom doesn’t love that. He chose #6 in soccer and was mad when #6 was taken in baseball (he chose #30 instead because he thinks he “throws fire” like Ventura). He chose to sit in seat #6 instead of #5 during Game 1 of the World Series.

Hosmer, Kamden’s favorite player, like he seemingly always does with guys in scoring position, hammers a double to left scoring Cain. Kamden played softball for the first time this summer and reenacted Hosmer’s batting box routine exactly. Big arching swings, wipe the front of the helmet, dig in that back foot, the whole deal. She was Hosmer for Halloween last year and at one point had Hosmer mentioned in the ever-changing bio of preteen Instagram accounts.

Hosmer makes a tremendous base-running play to tie it up at 2 and we head to extras.

Brooke and I debate again. Wake them here? What if they go 14 innings again. Let them sleep, we can rewind it.

10th inning comes and goes. 11th inning comes and goes.

I tweet, “Fingernails = chewed.”

Top 12. Salvy, Rowan’s favorite player, pokes a little single down the right field line. Rowan and Salvy have a lot in common. Funny, joyful, random, jokesters.

Then Dyson pinch runs for him. Dyson, Addi’s favorite player, proceeds to steal second and instantly get in the pitcher’s head. Addi wears flat-bill KC hats backward, says “that’s what speed do” after she beats kids in races, and has a natural swagger about herself similar to Dyson’s.

Dyson comes screaming home on Colon’s pinch-hit. A cuss word or two may have slipped.

“It’s time. Wake the kids up. Rewind and pause. You get the big two, I’ll get the little three.” – Brooke said. She was ready to rock.

I tweeted, “Operation pinky-swear in effect. Waking all five kids. Pretending it’s top of the 9th live. See you when we take the damn crown.”

sleepy eyes
sleepy eyes

We didn’t take it all the way back to the 9th, they can watch that tomorrow. We took it back to Salvy digging in, no outs, top of the 12th.

Kamden, Addi, and Silas woke right up. Rowan and Henley must have thought this was some sick joke as they rubbed their eyes and tried to find a corner of the couch to curl up on.

And like they’ve done countless times this postseason, not to mention all year long, the Royals fought, clawed, scraped, hustled, scratched, and relentlessly kept going. Never saying die.

Who scores five runs in the top of the 12th? After an entire city was convinced it was probably best to come home for Game 6 and win it all at The K?

The Royals did.

7-2. After being down 0-2 in the 9th.

Keep the line moving the club says. And that’s exactly what happened. A single here, a stolen base there, nothing sexy, no huge home runs, just wear your ass out perseverance.

Our kids were wiped, but once Wade Davis locked it down in the 9th, and we were officially the World Champions, they let out a few screams and gave some hugs and fist bumps.

Moose, Henley’s favorite player, had the best face in the post-game celebration mob. Henley thinks his nickname is funny and likes to scream, “Mooooose” when he comes to the plate.

We all were squeezed in on our big, long couch. I wasn’t certain if I’d get emotional. I wasn’t certain how I’d feel. I’m a crier, so I figured it would pour out.

I teared up, but it wasn’t a flood. “This is the good stuff,” I said in my head as I sat there holding Rowan and Henley on my lap. Brooke was crying a bit, giving big hugs and taking some videos and photos.

I kind of simply sat there. Holding two of my girls and being grateful we were all awake to experience it together.

We watched the big trophy get lifted, laughed as Salvy accepted his MVP award, I poured a small glass of celebration whiskey and then paused it where it was so we could put them to bed.

Little man was snapping iPad pics of the celebration. And yes, Christmas stuff is up. Brooke had a KC magazine in our house last week doing a Christmas photo shoot.
Little man was snapping iPad pics of the celebration. And yes, those are Christmas decorations. Brooke was in a photo shoot last week for a Christmas magazine.

For the second time tonight.

“Thanks for waking us up mom and dad,” Kamden said as she climbed the stairs.

As we followed them up, I tried to tell them how meaningful this was, stuff like this doesn’t happen normally, guys like this don’t come along every year, comebacks like this aren’t commonplace, baseball is tough, this team was special.

Maybe it’s the guarded “hasn’t happened in 30 years” side of me. Or maybe it’s because I was trying to articulate what a beautiful thing we all witnessed. Together.

The seven of us sure. But also my family.

For my dad who took me to all those games when #5 was digging into the left-side of the batter’s box. For my mom who bought me my first Bo Jackson t-shirt and made sure the grass stains were out of my white pants before the next game. For my brother who pitched to me in the back yard and drove me to games when he had way better things to do. For my sister who is nicknamed “George” and gave cancer hell in 2015.

But also this city. Kansas City. Our Town. Together.

I think our kids got it though, probably even more than I did.

As I was leaving Silas and Henley’s room, I closed the door but heard a faint “Dad?” come from our little man.

“Yeah bro, what’s up?”

“Do the Royals play again tomorrow?”

“No buddy, that was the last game, they won the crown.”

“That’s what I thought.”

“There’s always next year buddy.”

I pinky-swear.


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