Last Wednesday evening, I watched the status updates tick through my Facebook feed. I was on my 30-minute dinner break at my part-time bookseller job, away from television and radio. I posted a status update asking friends to keep their own updates coming, that I knew we – in this instance, the Kansas City Royals – were close.
An office building in Kansas City after the Royals won the ALCS. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
After my shift ended, I checked my phone once again, and I chuckled at The New York Times news alert that confirmed what I had already known for three hours. Headline: “Royals Keep Rolling, and Advance to the World Series.” The first paragraph read even more humorous: “After going 29 years without playing a single postseason game, the Kansas City Royals are making up for a lot of wasted time.”
And during that long stretch of nothing between 1985 and 2014, there was one common thread to the experience of watching the Royals cause intermittent euphoria: Newspapers.
My parents attended Game 6 in Kansas City on Oct. 26, 1985, a little less than two months before I was born. There’s a photograph of me in 1986 wearing a Royals outfit at 4 months old. But I didn’t really get introduced to the magnitude of the Royals’ eventual series win until I found a cardboard box in the basement.
My father had collected stadium plastic cups, ticket stubs, programs, and at least two World Series shirts. The box also holds lots and lots of newspapers.
I had called my dad that Wednesday afternoon to see if he wanted me to get him a copy of The Kansas City Star in the morning. My full-time job starts at 3:30 a.m. each day, and I knew that I would need to hit the rounds of gas stations at my soonest possible morning break if I were to get one. (One of my Facebook friends, aged 30, posted a Facebook photo at 7:50 a.m. Thursday of his stack of copies, proudly proclaiming that he had cleaned out the nearest 7-Eleven and was looking forward to one day passing along the copies to his future children and grandchildren.)
No need: Dad’s been buying them at the gas station throughout the last month’s ride, not just Thursday’s “World Class” issue.
"World class." Your @KCStar front page on the #Royals reaching the World Series. pic.twitter.com/3Mx2VWZrpG
— Charles Gooch (@drgooch41) October 16, 2014
Last Thursday I asked him why he still buys the papers.
He likes the articles about the different players, the in-depth profiles, not just of the Royals but also for the San Francisco Giants.
I ask when he thinks we stopped subscribing to the Star at our house, two hours west of Kansas City in Wamego, Kansas. He doesn’t remember taking it in the first place when I was growing up. I laugh and tell him that of course we did. I read “FYI,” the features section, from start to finish daily (and, if I skipped a day, I remember going back and getting caught up on my horoscopes, national music news and celebrity birthdays).
My mind also turns to my late grandfather at this time. John DeWeese adored newspapers. He took both The Star and the Kansas City Times, which ceased publication in 1990. My grandmother’s kitchen table still bears the imprint of newspaper ink from where Pops read his papers every day.
He’s been gone almost 15 years now. I wonder, what would Pops think of the Royals making it to the World Series? Would he share an interest in the Internet like my grandmother? More so, would he be sure to get a copy of each morning’s newspaper, even if the Royals were — as usual — having a mediocre season?
I know for sure the answer to the last question. In 2008, one month after I graduated from Kansas State University with a degree in journalism, I pulled myself away from job applications and wandered into my grandmother’s basement, to my grandfather’s desk, which remains the same since his death in April 2000. There, his fill-in-the-blank desk calendar from 1997 is still sitting. Many of the dates’ questions remained blank, but I happened upon one date that asked, if he could go into any profession he wanted, what it would be.
Journalism, he wrote in his near-perfect cursive.
My mind jumps back to a block away, to my own childhood home, and the basement. I ask my father what editions are in the box – just World Series games, or all of the coverage leading up to the seven games?
He’s not sure. The box might not even exist anymore, he says, laughing – it might have gotten thrown away.
“Nah,” I say, with a laugh back. It has to be there. Nearby, in a similar box, there is a box filled with newspaper clippings and magazine issues paying tribute to Princess Diana, who died when I was in the sixth grade. Those are my mom’s.
Greater Kansas City is now my home, and I’ve lived and worked on both sides of the state line. The former daily newspaper reporter in me is elated, to know that stands are selling out, that fans of all ages have rushed out to purchase their commemorative copies. I don’t want to be skeptical. I want to be in the here, in the now, celebrating the success of not only our baseball team but also the sales and general interest in the newspaper. I want this part of 1985 to stay with us permanently.
It’s been 18 months since I’ve held the title of daily newspaper reporter, but my mind is weighed down with questions: How long will the sales momentum last? Is too much of a good thing ever bad? If it takes us another 29 years to make it to postseason play, will we still be able to purchase our tangible ink copies of celebration in the future?
My five years of professional work experience in print journalism taught me patience, to take each deadline, each issue, each day as it comes, with grace and virtue and the hopes of getting to do it all over again in the next 24 hours. That is how I choose to answer my questions right now. What I do know – for now, at least – is that once the World Series is finished, I won’t go back and read through the Facebook status updates or the New York Times news alert that I forwarded to my family.
I’ll go treasure hunting for that nearly 30-year-old cardboard box. Should it still exist, I’ll gingerly lift out the newspapers and hold the history in my hands. If they’re still around, part of me wants to properly archive them in acid-free folders as an early Christmas present to my father. Really, though, the box will remain where it is, perhaps gaining a new neighbor with the stories of 2014.