Kansas City, Mo. A crowd of 40,605 optimists, pessimists and realists all showed up at Kansas City's Kauffman Stadium for the 2002 season opener and saw the Royals drop an 8-6 decision to the Minnesota Twins. And while some didn't hold out a lot of hope for their hometown team, they all seemed glad to have baseball back.
"There's nothing quite like opening day," said Doug Hansen of Olathe, Kan. "Particularly with the Royals, the way they've been the last few years, this is the one day you can be sure they're still in the pennant race."
On the second pitch of the season from Jeff Suppan, Jacque Jones hit the ball over the fence in left-center. Two outs later, David Ortiz launched one over the fence in right-center. The Royals were down 2-0 before they saw their first pitch of the season, and the pennant race wasn't looking too promising.
The Twins scored another run in the second on Brian Buchanan's home run to straightaway center to take a 3-0 lead. But the Royals scored one run in the bottom of the second, three in the third and two more in the fifth to chase Twins pitcher Brad Radke.
The excitement was back in the ballpark, at least for a while.
"I'm always excited about opening day," Michelle Hindorff of Kansas City, Mo., said. "Baseball is back."
John and Tyler Morris got married Saturday and celebrated their honeymoon Monday at Kauffman Stadium in traditional wedding gear Â tuxedo, wedding dress, ball caps and gloves.
"We love baseball," Tyler said. "We're here to celebrate and to enjoy baseball and each other. I love him almost as much as I love baseball. This is a blast."
One reason for Royals fans to be enthusiastic was the recent signing of All-Star first-baseman Mike Sweeney to a five-year extension through the 2007 season.
"We haven't had a franchise player here since George Brett retired (following the 1993 season)," said Kristi Williams of Kansas City, Mo. "It seems like they're trying to keep him here. I think it shows that they're willing to keep some players around that the people like."