It may be hard for you young’uns to appreciate, but the internet, at least as we know it, is not all that old. The internet began as a way for the Defense Department to share information, but it wasn’t until the mid-90s that the “World Wide Web” began to seep into public consciousness. The internet as we know it, is younger than Eric Hosmer.
I did not get my first email address until I was in college. It was about that time I discovered the “web” and espn.com was one of the first sites I ever bookmarked. It was there I found writers like Bill Simmons and Rob Neyer, and through Neyer I discovered Baseball Prospectus writer Rany Jazayerli. ESPN had team-centered message boards, but they were pretty awful, with low-knowledge fans. It was not long after that, however, that I found one that was much better - Royalboard.com.
Royalboard purported to be part of something called the “Fanboards Network” but it was really just two sports fans in Columbia, Missouri who ran a group of message boards for Missouri sports teams. There was Royalboard, Chiefsboard, RamsBoard, CardinalsBoard, BluesBoard, and the most popular site, Tigerboard, for Mizzou athletics. Nick Witthaus and Dave Reid began Tigerboard in 1996, and it was the most profitable of the boards, although they admitted that after the early splurge of internet advertising in the 90s, the boards were running at a loss.
Royalboard was what really interested me, and in the early 2000s, I began posting under the name “PatTabler”. Why? I dunno, he was clutch. This means I have been posting on baseball internet message boards for about 15 years, or over one-third of my life. With that time and energy I could have written several novels, begun a law career, or actually helped people. Instead, I debated about who won the James Shields trade.
The Royalboard posters were a varied lot, but I found the discussions to be better than what you could hear on your local radio, perhaps a bit of a precursor to the community I would later find at Royals Review.
Using the Internet archive, It is interesting to go back and look at the topics of interest back then. These were...bad times. Horrible times. No hope of contending times. Allard Baird ran the show. Albie Lopez and Doug Henry were the big free agent pickups. Johnny Damon was dealt in an awful three-team trade that netted the Royals Roberto Hernandez, A.J. Hinch, and Angel Berroa.
Contraction was a looming threat.
There was no reason why this team couldn’t win 15 in a row to reach .500.
We discussed the potential for a downtown stadium, how Tony Muser was abusing pitching prospect Chad Durbin, and the latest from “Rob and Rany on the Royals.” And Kevin Mench, so much Kevin Mench trade speculation.
We had the magical season of 2003, at least, to save us from further depression. And of course we had...wait. What’s this?
REX IS ALL YOUR FAULT!!!
Anyway, I stopped posting at Royalboard around 2005 or so, and after that it became a php bulletin board, requiring registration. It looks like the site still had a fair amount of commenters until midway through the 2014 season when there was a mass exodus, alluded to in this post, after a moderator flipped out and left.
Now, the place is a ghost town. There have been two posts in the last calendar year. There is not even a thread acknowledging the Royals won the World Series. Its a bit of a mystery why whoever operates the site still continues to pay for it.
Perhaps one day this site too, will be on life support, relegated to the dustbins of the Internet archive. In the meantime, we salute you Royalboard.com. You were a pioneer in the early days of internet message boards, providing a forum for baseball nerds to discuss Tony Muser, Ricky Bottalico, and Neifi Perez. You allowed users to debate, discuss, argue, and commiserate. You allowed Royals fans to connect in some dark times, and for that, we will not forget you.