The column that almost was: A Royals retrospective

By |  November 24, 2015 0 Comments

Well, the November issue is out. I somehow managed to not write about the Royals in my column, for fear of annoying every other fan base out there. But this is the blog, so I’m taking that discarded, unedited column and posting it here.

How about those Royals?

This was a fun season for sure. Getting back to the World Series, winning it in such fashion with all those come-from-behind-wins, the Royals really were heart-stoppers this year. It was a fun, likable, gritty team. I’m thankful for the ride they took this sports fan on.

A fun bonus to the Royals winning it all is the many emails and text messages I’ve received from old friends in the industry, giving me a shout-out, a tip of the cap, a cheers, to my Royals. Some of these people I haven’t heard from in years. It’s cool to realize that my network covers such a large area, and that when the Royals won it all, these folks thought of me enough to drop me a line of congratulations.

Great season, definitely. But I want to write about two things that happened to me this year with the Royals that made it a memorable season before we even made it to the World Series.

These moments, in hindsight, maybe could have been an early clue that it was “our year”….

Moment # 1

I was in Cleveland visiting North Coast Media corporate headquarters, a Monday through Thursday. Monday was mostly a travel day, while Tuesday was a corporate golf outing that my co-workers have affectionately (I think) dubbed the “Seth Jones Invitational.” Wednesday was a half-day of work followed by an all-staff outing to the Indians/Royals noon game. Thursday I’d fly my tired, hungover bones back home.

Monday after work, some of my co-workers joined me for a post-work beer. After maybe two pints, the guys said “See ya, Jonesy.” They explained that they were already in enough Seth Jones-related trouble with their spouses based on Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s activities… there was no way they were going to get into trouble on Monday as well.

So I was on my own.

The Royals were in town, so like any self-respecting Royals fan I elected to go catch the game, even if I was flying solo.

Royals Indians before Infante Home Run

Moments before Infante hit his home run… right… at… me! (yes, these are the kind of photos I text my wife, and somehow, she still likes me!)

I bought the cheapest ticket the box office offered — upper area of center field. I walked into beautiful Progressive Field and grabbed a beer. Then I scoped out the seating situation.

Indeed, my seat was lousy… I didn’t even walk up there. But left field, I discovered, was all general admission, with no seats, just a flat “party porch” area.

Add in a lightly attended game, and I was front row, left field. Not bad!

It was the second inning and I was texting back home to my wife to tell her to turn on the game — if a home run was hit to left, she’d see me standing there in my Royals jersey. I was texting with my right hand, holding my beer with my left. I heard a “CRACK!” looked up, and… the ball was headed right at me.

Seth Jones Royals TV Omar Infante

Bill Irving at Lawrence (Kan.) CC sent me this photo of me on his TV… it would be one of several I’d receive within minutes (but arguably the best shot anyone sent me — nice job, Bill, you caught my good side!)

I made a weak attempt at catching the ball, apparently electing in that split second that my cell phone and beer were more valuable. The guy standing next to me easily caught the ball clean a few feet behind me. It was a Royals home run, an Omar Infante solo shot, his only home run of the season. Me and the stranger high-fived, and I instinctively took off my hat and started waving it, in case anyone was watching back home.

Turned out, a lot of people were watching back home. My phone started going crazy with text messages. The messages were mostly, “Are you in Cleveland?” or “You were just on TV!” I had people texting me photos of their TVs so I could see what they were seeing. I received text messages from people I hadn’t heard from in years. Turns out, I was on the Kansas City broadcast several times, including one instance where they were hawking 2014 ALCS Championship rings, and apparently I was their poster boy.

Weeks later I still had people asking me if that was indeed me at the game. Over a month later, two times on the same day — both my lawn care guy and the bartender at the local casino asked me if that was me at the Royals/Indians game. Over a month later! My wife still can’t believe how many people spotted me… and it’s kind of shocking to me, too.

(At my local bar, the legend has grown… now, not only was I on TV, but now I also made an amazing catch of the ball.)

Moment # 2

I bought this Royals ticket booklet for $40, a fundraiser for the Boy Scouts of America. Bought it off my wife’s co-worker. Good cause, sounds like a good deal. In the booklet were 12 vouchers for half-price tickets, as well as four free tickets.

I figured the booklet was worth it just for the four free tickets. The only restriction was that the tickets were only redeemable for Sunday through Wednesday games.

All season I sat on that booklet. Oh, I went to games, but it was when I bought seats on a flash sale, or something — I kept disregarding the freebie tickets all season long. Finally, the last week of the season arrived… I still hadn’t used a single voucher from the booklet! I needed to at least use the free seats…

My plan was to take my family to the last Sunday game. But then I got inspired, and took my 8-year-old daughter, Evey, on a Wednesday after school.

As I pulled up to pay for parking, I pulled the vouchers out of my glove box. I glanced down at them and that was the first time I noticed this booklet had an expiration date… and it was already a month expired! (Note: my sister bought the same booklet, and they accidentally recycled it. Apparently these booklets are cursed.)

So now I’m mad because not only can I not redeem these vouchers, but now I need to buy seats for me and my little girl… which isn’t a big deal, but when you show up thinking they’re going to be free…

I stomped all the way to the ticket counter with Evey, dodging scalpers along the way. When I got near the ticket window, an older guy materialized right in front of me. “Need tickets?” he asked. “Well… yeah…” I said, because clearly I was about to buy tickets.

“I’ve got two tickets for you — free. That’s your daughter, right? I’ve been waiting for a father/son or a father/daughter… come with me, you’re going to want these seats…”

I said OK and we followed the guy and his friend. Evey gave me a confused look.

“I was about to give up and give these seats to a couple college kids,” the guy said. “You two arrived just in time.”

The guy takes me to the “Diamond Club” which is VIP seating at Kauffman, and includes access to a nice sports bar behind home plate. The guy bid us farewell at this point, telling me he had seats elsewhere, but to “enjoy!” I offered to buy him a beer, but he declined.

Evey Jones and Seth at Royals Game

My 8-year-old daughter, Evelyn, takes in a game with her old man… in much better seats than I originally planned on.

I didn’t know where I was going — this was the first time the tickets were actually in my hands — so I asked an usher. He smiled at me when he saw my seats. “Oh, you’re down there!”

Turns out the seats were fifth row, seats 1 and 2, behind home plate.

From busting on the freebie ticket booklet, to scoring the best Royals seats of my life, all in 20 minutes. Kind of sums up the season!

I told Evey on our way to the game that we didn’t need to stay the whole game because it was a school night. Once I saw our seats, I leaned over and told her, “Evey, I know I said we didn’t need to stay for the whole game, but…”

“It’s OK, Dad,” she said. “I want to stay for the whole game!”

What a memorable season.

Photos: Golfdom

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About the Author: Seth Jones

Seth Jones, a 25-year veteran of the golf industry media, is Editor-in-Chief of Golfdom magazine and Athletic Turf. A graduate of the University of Kansas School of Journalism and Mass Communications, Jones began working for Golf Course Management in 1999 as an intern. In his professional career he has won numerous awards, including a Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA) first place general feature writing award for his profile of World Golf Hall of Famer Greg Norman and a TOCA first place photography award for his work covering the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In his career, Jones has accumulated an impressive list of interviews, including such names as George H.W. Bush, Samuel L. Jackson, Lance Armstrong and Charles Barkley. Jones has also done in-depth interviews with such golfing luminaries as Norman, Gary Player, Nick Price and Lorena Ochoa, to name only a few. Jones is a member of both the Golf Writers Association of America and the Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association. Jones can be reached at

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