Priests feel the excitement of the Royals magical playoff run
Kansas city, Kan. — Father Shawn Tunink would like to issue a apology to anyone he woke up at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in Washington, D.C., in the early morning hours of Oct. 1. He just couldn’t contain himself after the Kansas City Royals won their first playoff game in 29 years — a thrilling 9-8 come-from-behind win against the Oakland Athletics that ended just after 1 a.m. on the East Coast.
“Winning the wild card game was an amazing roller coaster. I was texting friends back home and in despair when the Royals fell behind,” said Father Shawn. “I went from depression to me screaming all by myself in the monastery, hoping I wouldn’t wake anyone up.”
Father Shawn, who is studying canon law at The Catholic University of America in Washington was a mere third-grader at Lansing Elementary School when the Royals won their last playoff game — Game 7 of the World Series back in 1985.
“I was too young to fully understand the significance of the Royals win back then. It seemed like it was normal that the Royals would go to the playoffs. They were always in a postseason chase,” said Father Shawn. “This is a lot different, living 29 years of my life having never been to the playoffs.”
Father Shawn didn’t have to wait another 29 years for another Royals postseason win. After taking out the A’s, the Royals quickly dispatched the Los Angeles Angels in three games to advance to the American League Championship Series against the Baltimore Orioles.
On the day the playoffs began, Father Shawn went to the Miraculous Medal Chapel in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington and said a prayer for the Royals.
“I thought the Royals might need a miracle,” said Father Shawn.
”And there has been one miracle after another,” he added.
For Father Scott Wallisch, archdiocesan vocations director, the 1985 Royals win wasn’t a happy time. The native of Hazelwood, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis was — and continues to be — a huge Cardinals fan. But since he’s been in Kansas for 18 years, he’s also turned into a Royals fan.
Father Scott has enjoyed the Royals’ exciting playoff run. He especially likes the type of baseball the Royals play.
“It reminds me of the way baseball was played back in the mid-1980s. I think baseball was more fun then — when they had to manufacture runs — and it wasn’t just a matter of getting big guys up there and hitting home runs. It was working the guy around, playing good defense and putting good pitchers out there,” said Father Scott.
With his Cardinals also still alive in the playoffs at press time, Father Scott is hoping for an I-70 Series rematch. But which team would he root for?
“I would still be rooting for the Cardinals,” he said. “I’ve been pretty clear with people since I came to Kansas 18 years ago that I will root for the Royals as long as they’re not playing the Cardinals. If the Cardinals are not in the World Series, I will have all my energy behind the Royals, cheering them on.”
Father Mark Goldasich, Leaven editor and pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Tonganoxie, remembers exactly where he was when the Royals won it all in 1985.
“At the stadium. Left field. Upper deck,” said Father Mark. “It was 11-0 that night. Someone asked me that night if I wished it was a closer game.
“I said, ‘No. Eleven runs is perfect.’”
Little did he dream that that would be the Royals’ last postseason win in 29 years.
“I thought we would have a dynasty, because we were in the playoffs so many times prior to that year,” he said. “I just thought we would be there for at least the next several years. But it’s been 29 years of bad baseball.”
For 29 years, Father Mark began the season optimistic about the Royals’ chances, only to watch the Royals wither season after season.
“I cheered for them but I kept it kind of quiet because it broke my heart every year to see these guys and watch them squander game after game. It was hard to go out there and watch them,” he said.
But this season has made him a loud and proud Royals fan again.
“It has been exciting once again, just because they have played significant baseball all through the season,” he said.
He’s also noticed a change in the Kansas City area.
“I was out at Price Chopper the other day and people were in their Royals gear. You never saw that in October. Everybody was Chiefs. It’s just good to see that. It’s really brought the city together,” he said.
Throughout the playoffs, Father Mark has been impressed by the team play of the Royals.
“They’re a good team,” said Father Mark. “There’s not just one guy out there carrying them. I’ve been amazed by [Nori] Aoki, [Lorenzo] Cain. The defense, particularly in the outfield, has been unbelievable.”
What Father Mark really likes about the 2014 version of the Royals is that they’re a team having fun.
“The highlight for me is the spirit of the team,” he said. “They are genuinely excited to be there. That’s been exciting just to see that energy.”
And he can’t wait for the series in Baltimore to begin.
“I think the Royals can take them. It’s going to be challenging. I don’t think they will sweep them. I think the Royals speed and defense will be a factor. I predict the Royals will win in six games.”