Archive for Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Royals return

September 2, 2010

I’ll admit I was both excited and a bit nervous on Sunday afternoon. I was going to accomplish one of my rehabilitation goals — attending a Kansas City Royals baseball game. I know that wouldn’t be much of an accomplishment for most people, but for me it was a milestone. I was returning to participate in something that was very important to me.

I have always been a Royals fan. I attended the second game they ever played and have been fortunate to be present for some historic events. I was there for their first playoff game and for the entire 1985 World Series. In short, the Royals have been a big part of my summertime activities. In previous years, I attended 15 to 20 games. Unfortunately, my stroke has prevented me from being at Kauffman Stadium this year.

Really, I became a bigger Royals fan this year. When I was in the hospital the telecasts gave me something to look forward to and I didn’t really care if the Royals won or lost. Looking forward to and watching the games was a highlight of my day.

I was concerned, however, about a person in a wheelchair going to the game. Not having any experience at attending an event and utilizing handicap facilities, I was a little apprehensive. I was concerned about bumps, curbs and other uneven surfaces.

My fears were unfounded and I am happy to report that people in my condition can attend and enjoy major league baseball. Kauffman Stadium is very handicap accessible and there is no reason to be a bit hesitant about attending.

On a hot, August Sunday afternoon, I headed for the ballgame with my son-in-law and two grandsons. Actually, in a normal summer this was a very common event. We attended many Sunday afternoon ball games with family members. My daughters pointed out that going to a baseball game was a big part of their growing up. Professional baseball was a great “Daddy Daughter” event and I remember many good times at old Municipal Stadium, Wichita Aeros minor league games and of course, the “K.” I taught them to keep score and the fundamentals of the game. They have passed a love of the game on to their children.

As a newcomer to this world, I can attest that all labeled handicap accessible facilities are not equal. However, this wasn’t the case at the “K.” I was impressed by the handicap parking at Kauffman Stadium as it is very close to the gate and there are ample parking places available. There is enough room to transfer to your wheelchair and the access makes for a smooth ride.

The handicap accessible gate is wide and primarily dedicated to those who are incapacitated. Once inside the stadium, wheelchair seating is just behind the top row. There are regular seats for those accompanying wheelchair-bound persons. You have a great view of the field and it is shaded from the hot summer sun.

Yes, there is some congestion, but I was impressed by the courtesy people show to those of us who use wheelchairs. The restroom door is large enough to accommodate wheelchairs without having to fight a cumbersome door. The restrooms were roomy and user friendly. I experienced absolutely no difficulties.

Yes, I enjoyed the ballgame. It was exciting and the Royals won with a walk-off single in the bottom of the 10th inning. Actually, winning or losing didn’t make any difference to me. I was able to attend and enjoy baseball. I had reached one of my rehabilitation goals. What’s more important, I had conquered my fears about being in a big crowd. With just a little help I had no problems.

I hope to make it to another ballgame before the season ends. Major league baseball remains the most affordable professional sport for families to attend.

By the way, I plan to be able to drive and walk into the stadium when the 2011 season opens.

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