My son is 10. He’s just getting to the age that he knows anything about sports, and, frankly, he doesn’t care.
We have gone to several Royals games together. I have taken him to meet Zack Grienke and Billy Butler on the Royals Caravan. But as much as I try to make those things matter to him, they don’t matter as much as Legos or Mario Brothers.
I’m 40. I grew up idolizing Willie Wilson, Frank White, Dennis Leonard and other Royals of the late 70s and early 80s.
If I’m going to raise (read “brainwash”) my children into being Royals fans, and since the Royals have given us so little to be excited about, I felt it might be necessary to let the kids know that the Royals have a history to be proud of. So I decided recently that it was important for my son to know about the greatest Royal of all, the only Royal to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame – George Brett.
But then I realized something. Something that made my insides ache. Something that made my heart hurt. George Brett has been retired for not just 10 years. Not just 15 years. George Brett has been retired 17 years. That’s 7 years longer than my son has been alive.
When I started to do some quick calculations, I realized that George Brett is to my son what Ted Williams is to me. I was born at the end of 1969. Ted Williams played his last season in 1960. By the time I was old enough to know anything about baseball history, Ted Williams seemed to me like a dinosaur. Grainy videos and black and white photos.
Thoughts flooded my mind. Has it really been 17 years since George Brett graced the K? Has it been more than half of my lifetime that the Royals have been shut out of the playoffs? Have we Royals fans just been clinging to the smoldering embers of a few good years that occurred before the franchise was even half its current age?
Could I really be old enough to be father to a 10 year old? Am I really closer to retirement than to the Royals’ only championship?
Watching the memories of the great Royals fade in the rearview mirror is like calculating how quickly life is passing.
The story of the Royals is sad not so much because no one under 30 considers them a quality franchise, but because those of us over 40 are clutching those memories like a memento from a past friendship or a deceased relative.
Overly dramatic? Maybe so. But for my childrens’ sake, I keep believing that the Royals will yet field a team that is significant, competitive, worth sharing as a family. I remember how much fun that was. I want for my family to have now what we had back then.
It is a great pleasure to be a new writer for I70baseball.com, writing about the only baseball team that I truly care about. But I don’t want to only write about the glory days that happened when I was a kid. I want my children and I to make new memories at Kauffman Stadium, watching truly good players in games that actually matter.
I didn’t tell my son about George Brett. I just couldn’t.