I didn’t grow up with an interest of sports, until recently. That interest has filled my room with over 50 bobbleheads and other Kansas City Royals memorabilia.
Note: This story is a step off the beaten path for my blog, as in it falls outside my traditional topics I write about here.
This post is a special post prepared for Major League Baseball Opening Day 2022. During the lockout, there was a lot of uncertainty about if this day would come. I would like to take some time to expand on my love for my favorite team — the Kansas City Royals — and how I show that love.
This post expands upon my collection, which I also wrote about as a guest contributor for Inside the Royals, an online blog covering everything related to the Royals. For a shorter version, view it here.
As a young child in central Missouri, I had no real interest in sports and athletics. Despite my dad being the opposite when he was a child — and his mother being very athletic herself — I was instead more interested in random strange things, such as school buses, HVAC equipment, boilers, electrical systems, RF/microwave systems, and yes — computers, of course. (My dream job throughout elementary school was to be an electrical engineer — not a quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs.)
When I was 6 or 7 years old, I randomly developed a love for the St. Louis Cardinals. Despite living closer to Kansas City (about 80-85 miles east) and even watching Kansas City news (we were in the strange area on the outer fringe of both Columbia and Kansas City television markets), most of my friends preferred the Cards. I can remember celebrating Albert Pujols — the same one who recently returned with them to finish out his legendary career — as a youth and listening to Cardinals games with my grandparents. (I believe I even had a Pujols kids jersey, shirt or “shirtsey” at that time. I know I had shirts and hats, and I even made a wooden Cardinal.)
My love for the Cardinals redeveloped when I was in middle and early high school, although not as strongly. I remember kids at my high school being bummed out in 2014 when the Cardinals were knocked out of the postseason. The Royals chugged along to the end, just to lose to the San Francisco Giants in the World Series. (We’ll get there.)
I didn’t start following the Royals until college, where I made many Kansas City-native friends. (My college — the University of Central Missouri — is only about 50 miles southeast of Kansas City.) I slowly started to drift to following the Royals full-time, and eventually became a hard-core Royals fan. (It seems many fellow Royals fans who grew up in Missouri outside the Kansas City metro/St. Joseph area went through the same “transition” since the Cardinals are a much larger market and have a bigger fanbase than the Royals. When I was a kid and grew to love the Cardinals, they were pretty hot. It was 2006 and they just won a World Series. Meanwhile, things across the state — in Kansas City, with the Royals — couldn’t have been more dire as 100+ loss seasons became the norm. The Cardinals would pick up another World Series pennant, in 2011, before the Royals would find their strides to lead to the 2014/15 World Series runs.)
I’ve always rooted for more “underdog” teams, and the Royals definitely qualify. However, I’ve learned that following such a team — where losses usually outnumber wins in most seasons — makes you a stronger fan in a tightly-knit fandom, which makes following a “struggling” (as some have put it) small market team even more worthwhile. Since developing a love for the Royals — which has always been stronger than it ever was for the Cardinals, a larger-market team with a better record — I’ve met some incredible people I can call friends.
I was finally able to attend my first Royals game — also my first MLB game and second professional sporting event — for my 22nd birthday last year (2021) as the Royals battled the Detroit Tigers. Although the Royals lost, I had a lot of fun and was hooked. I attended four other games that season.
Another benefit of being a fan of a small market team is our players are usually more humble and down-to-earth; they’re happy to sign autographs for children or take photos with their biggest fans.
The first athlete I really grew fond of was Danny “Duffman” Duffy — a pitcher for the Royals for years before being traded (unfortunately) to the Los Angeles Dodgers, rather unexpectedly, in July 2021. We have something in common: we both struggle with mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression. He used his platform to advocate for focus on mental health issues, more specifically those affecting athletes. He was open about his struggles, which made me realize I’m far from the only one struggling with anxiety and depression. The mental health issues forced him to take a hiatus from baseball, which unfortunately is a similar problem happening in my own personal life. He was a great guy who cared about the fans and the community. He was an inspiration to me, and in some ways a “personal hero.” Although he’s in Los Angeles now, I hope he can return to Kansas City to fulfill his promise of “Bury me a Royal.”
Shortly after Duffman was traded, I discovered a suggested Facebook Group for Kansas City Royals bobbleheads and memorabilia. I knew stadium give-aways (SGAs) were a thing, but I didn’t know people collected them. I joined the group and saw all the massive collections some people had.
I had been wanting to get more into the fandom, specifically by trying to get memorabilia. My first piece of merchandise was a simple T-shirt I picked up at Walmart for $15. However, after joining two private Facebook Groups — KC Royals Bobbleheads/Figurines/Collectibles first then Crown Town — I learned about the wide array of things out there. Bobbleheads, pins, hats, cups, figurines, (growth) posters, are just a few items people collect. (While being fairly odd for a baseball team, there are even a line of diecast vehicles with MLB team themes.)
Shortly after my first post, I met Don Boes — a fellow collector here in Jefferson City. From there, the ball started rolling. I subsequently purchased my first bobble: a bobblehead featuring Danny Duffy with Sadie, his dog, the Royals gave out in 2019. I also bought a Mr. Royal lunchbox. Less than two weeks later I purchased a Hunter Dozier bobblehead the Royals gave out in 2021.
Sluggerrr — the Royals’ lion mascot — is a huge portion of my collection. I also have items picturing Mr. Royal, the club’s first mascot used in the 1970s. While the Royals have only given out two Sluggerrr SGA bobbleheads — one in 2002, which has become quite rare and valuable, and another in 2018 — third-party companies, such as Forever Collectibles (FoCo), have made many. I have many of the Sluggerrr FoCos, as well as two of his Funko Pops, one of which sits on my desk at work alongside Salvador “Salvy” Perez, Jeff Montgomery, the George Brett statue replica and the 1985 World Series trophy replica.
Another chunk of the collection centers around Salvy. Salvy has always been right up there with Duffy, and has definitely taken over in his spot as my favorite player. I have many of his bobbleheads and recently started collecting his cards.
Besides the bobbleheads, I have recently started collecting baseball cards — despite being warned by multiple people of the dangerous rabbit hole it can become. I’ve also collected pins, pennants and other Royals memorabilia.
Overall, the collection started out with a cup, a Mr. Royal lunchbox, and the Duffy/Sadie bobblehead.
Since, it has grown immensely and takes up much of my bedroom. An empty display cabinet from our dining room allows me to showcase smaller items in my collection, such as miniature (mini) bobbleheads, special cards, buttons and anything else. There’s a Frank White collectible coin in there, as well.
I’ve added shelves to two my walls. Each shelf can hold four, and I have eight shelves for a total display capacity of 32 bobbleheads. I’m currently planning on purchasing another set of four shelves in the future, expanding the display collection to 48 bobbleheads. My goal is to eventually collect all of the Hall of Fame bobbleheads, of which there are 16 and collect the remaining Salvy, Sluggerrr, and George Brett bobbleheads I don’t have.
I currently have 55 bobbleheads. I would like to dedicate a separate shelf to other, non-Royals bobbleheads, such as Purdue Pete, my favorite college mascot. (Yes, I know, I’m weird… the second paragraph in this post should’ve established that.) My goal is to also purchase mascot bobbleheads for other teams I follow, specifically the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Cincinnati Reds, and the University of Central Missouri Mules — my alma mater, for this shelf.
The bobbleheads not on shelves are located below the display case on my dresser — where it originally began. In addition to the lunchbox, some Sluggerrr bobbleheads and plushes, I have a spice rack set up to tier bobbles. I’ve been using this space to display my newest bobbleheads until I get additional shelves or find a better spot.
Recently, a fellow collector contributed a display for my pins — along with some additional pins I didn’t have before.
As for cards, more basic cards are placed in binder sleeves for easy viewing. Meanwhile, more valuable cards go on display in the display cabinet. In the display cabinet I also have a special card depicting Royals (now Kauffman) Stadium. This card was given out to fans who attended Royals Stadium’s inaugural game on April 10, 1973.
I also have signs, pennants, a poster and a flag adorning my walls. One item I’ve been interested in getting was even a Royals wallplate for my light switch.
My Royals collection — which I’ve also dubbed the “Bury Me a Royal” collection, after Duffy’s quote — has grown considerably since it started in August. 55 bobbleheads, over 30 pins and dozens of baseball cards, among other things.
Last season was the season when I really got into the Royals and baseball, and obviously that love grew stronger over time. I’m hoping 2022 can be the season when the Royals can finally start to find their stride and move forward. Either way, I’ll ride or die a Royals fan. … I guess you could say “Bury me a Royal fan.”
For those who are wondering what this post may have to also do with vintage computers:
The Kansas City Royals appear in a 1982 advertisement for Apple. The ad features their manager, Dick Howser, using an Apple II to keep track of stats.
“My Apple has a great hit for stats. It sure makes my job a lot easier.”— Dick Howser, Kansas City Royals manager in 1982
The Royals appear from 0:31-0:36 in the minute long spot, embedded below.
On a slight tangent, the American Royal — the namesake for the Royals — appears in the 1992 Apple video “Apple Macintosh — The Design Solution,” which showcases the American Royal complex being designed by architects at Black & Veatch Architects in Kansas City. The president of the division, Joe Brown, was also involved with the American Royal. It happened to be this video that helped spur my interest in vintage computers.
The American Royal/Black & Veatch section of the video runs 9:33-16:46. In addition to the American Royal complex, other notable Kansas City landmarks can be seen, including Barney Allis Plaza in downtown Kansas City near Bartle Hall, and Black & Veatch’s former headquarters building on Ward Parkway.
Lastly, I got into vintage computers in mid-2014. I bought my first Mac — a late 2014 Mac mini — in November 2014 from the Apple Store in Country Club Plaza in Kansas City. The Royals fell to the San Francisco Giants less than a month prior. Thankfully, they would be successful the following year.
This post was also written on a 1991 Macintosh Classic using Microsoft Word 4.0.