Neyer: My first game, Kansas City Royals, May 1976

From SABR member Rob Neyer at The National Pastime Museum on October 27, 2014:

In his new memoir, longtime sports scribe Bob Ryan writes, “I’m not like most baseball fans. I have no idea when I saw my first big league game, or even my first minor league game. The fact is I cannot remember a time in my life when I wasn’t going to games. So I have no great story to tell about my memorable first trip to the ballpark.”

I have an idea when I saw my first big league game. That’s easy, because I was never anywhere near a Major League ballpark until I was almost 10 years old.

Well, that’s not precisely true. When I was very small, we lived in St. Paul, Minnesota. But I don’t believe that I was ever taken to Bloomington for a Twins game. And if I had been, I wouldn’t remember it. Later, we lived in southwest Michigan, a couple of hours from the ballparks in Chicago. Never went there, either. Sure, I’d seen Hank Aaron break Babe Ruth’s record on television, and I’d watched a bit of the 1973 World Series. But those games might as well have been on the moon, or Mars. For me, Buchanan’s Little League field, next to good ol’ H.C. Stark Elementary School, was about as big as baseball got.

In 1976, though, we moved to a little town in suburban Kansas City, just 22 miles south of Royals (now Kauffman) Stadium. It didn’t take long for me to become interested in the local team, which was then (as now, lately) the talk of the town. Even better (as it turned out), my father’s new job was with a company owned by Ewing Kauffman, who owned the Royals, which meant pretty good seats for the game, pretty regularly.

Here’s my problem: I was not obsessive in my youth and didn’t save a single thing from my first Royals game—not a ticket stub or a scorecard or a program or anything else. Nor was my first game added somehow to the family lore. Maybe if anyone had guessed that I would eventually do this for a living . . .

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Originally published: October 27, 2014. Last Updated: October 27, 2014.