Republished from the Jefferson City News Tribune
COLUMBIA — Forget SungWoo Lee. Forget team-only meetings and improved focus. Maybe the real secret to the Kansas City Royals’ first playoff appearance and World Series run in 29 years is Missouri center Evan Boehm.
Boehm threw the first pitch before the Royals’ July 25 game against Cleveland on Mizzou Night. The Royals won that game, 6-4.
Boehm denies his role in the Royals’ good luck.
“Not at all,” he said. “It was a fun time, and I would definitely do it again, but that’s a once-in-a-lifetime moment.”
Still, the numbers don’t lie.
That win put the Royals at two games above .500. Ever since, they’ve played at a .652 pace, playoffs included.
Whether or not Boehm had anything to do with Kansas City’s success, he’s one in a contingent of Missouri football players rooting on the Royals this postseason — even if it means putting up with St. Louis Cardinals fans.
“With all the Cardinals fans like, ‘Oh, Royals fans are so annoying.’ I was just like, ‘Guys, just let us live it up a little bit. You guys get this every year,’” Boehm said. “It’s been 29 years since the last time we got this. I wasn’t even alive.”
The Lee’s Summit West graduate has also refuted accusations of bandwagon-hopping.
“I’ve been a Royals fan since Day 1,” he said. “When they wore the black jerseys in 2005, it was completely awful. You’ve got to ignore the haters sometimes and just love watching the Royals.”
Defensive lineman Shane Ray, kicker Andrew Baggett and punter Christian Brinser — all from the Kansas City area — are among the staunch Royals fans on the team, a number growing to “everybody, now,” according to Boehm.
Last week, the team caught the end of a Royals ALCS game and the beginning of a Cardinals NLCS contest on television at a post-practice team dinner.
“That was a lot of fun,” said Boehm, who predicted the Royals will sweep the San Francisco Giants, “because you’ve got kids from both sides of the state watching their teams play.”
Boehm played baseball through eighth grade, specializing at catcher and first and third bases before moving on to sports like track and wrestling. He said he was a base-stealing threat.
So could he play a part on this Royals squad?
“Not at all,” he said. “Maybe a Billy Butler.”