On this edition of Better Know a Commenter, we feature a longtime commenter who has been with us since the days of David DeJesus, Jose Guillen, and Gil Meche: buddyball.
On your profile bio, you mention being raised a Mets fan. I feel like most people maintain a relationship with the team of their childhood, so why didn’t your Mets fandom stick? And how did you become a Royals fan afterwards?
I grew up in upstate New York (around Albany) and when I was young, it seemed as if all of my friends were Yankees fans and they dominated the airwaves at that time. I have a clear memory of complaining to my Mother about this and she said “Well, there is a new team in New York City called the Mets and I am sure they would appreciate your support.” So I began my adoption of teams who suffered greatly most seasons, with occasional brilliance. I must have been around 10 years old at that time and I followed the Lovable Losers closely, while my friends made fun of me. Then, in 1969, the Miracle Mets happened and I knew what sports fandom was all about. Back then, games were played during the day and I remember that if you were good, you could go down to the gym and the P.E. coach would have his B&W television set out and you could watch the games.
After I graduated from college in very northern New York, I made the leap to the Midwest and attended graduate school at the University of Kansas. That was the last season with the Mets with my favorite Met (Tom Seaver). He was traded to Toronto and the team began an extended swoon and I lost interest (there wasn’t much coverage of the Mets in the Lawrence Journal World), and besides, I became consumed by grad school. So I started paying attention to the local squad and got hooked by the mid 70’s Royals and George Brett. I left the Midwest for a 4 year period in the mid-1980’s, but returned to Omaha, NE with a wife, a daughter, two cats, and my fandom still in tact.
It was a sweet time to become a Royals fan. Who is one 70s or 80s era Royal you loved watching that the new generation of Royals fans (me included) never saw play?
Of course, George Brett was the Man, but another position player I liked watching was Willie Wilson. He played such great OF defense with all that speed. And for a pitcher? Dan Quisenberry. He was really the first true closer I remember watching. Plus, it was obvious that he was pretty different than your typical baseball player.
What drew you to the Royals Review community, and how long have you been kicking around these digital avenues?
The commissioner of my fantasy baseball league sent an email out to the owners (many of whom were Royals fans) that there was this website called Royals Review and that we might want to give it a look. I have to say I was hooked from the start. It was so unlike what I was expecting to read (see Arrowhead Pride), and instead I got Royals news and discussion, as well as introductions to poetry, literature, and Royal radio affiliates. My profile says I have been a member of this community since 2008, and that sounds about right. I think I lurked for a while before I started posting. In fact, it had to have been earlier, as Buddy Bell was the manager (see my username and the next question).
Your username is buddyball. Is there a story behind it more complicated than a play on Moneyball, or is that it?
Oh, it is even less complicated than that. Buddy Bell was the manager and I found his style that he wanted the Royals to play to be aggravating, so I though the name buddyball was an ironic reference. Also, I knew that things could always be worse.
I didn’t even think about Buddy Bell. What an era. As someone who lived through the 1960s Mets, who eventually won a world series, did that impact how you felt about the 2000s Royals, who also won their World Series?
Well, I knew from experience that it could happen, but man, I wasn’t counting on it taking that long. But yes, it was very sweet.
If any of us were to run into you at a baseball game, how would we know it’s you by appearance?
I am tall and thinnish (6’2” and ~190), would be wearing my Royal blue KC hat and probably a rare, Royals Review t-shirt. Will had some made up once and would give them away during the season during games, I think to keep interest in what was going on. I was the closest guesser to a final score. It has the old logo on it, and on the back, it says “Royal Review – Still Loyal”. I like to think this was in homage (in part) to Loyal2sDad’s daughter, LoyalToTheRoyals, who was in college then and posted quite a bit. At least that is what I would like to believe.
Oh my God. I never knew that shirt existed. Did anyone ever comment on it?
I remember a pretty drunk bro gave me some crap about loyalty to the team, but that was about it.
Kids, pets, spouse?
Ms. Buddyball and I have been married for 35 years (in 2 weeks) and we have two adult daughters who are both Royals fans. We are staff to one cat, Lola, who is 17 years old.
Imagine you’ve just started a new job and your coworkers ask you to tell them a fun fact about yourself or an interesting hobby. What would you say?
That I have been to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean and within 800 miles of the North Pole.
Hold up; you can’t just say that you’ve been to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean in one sentence and not give any more details.
One of the geologists I worked with at the University of Florida contacted me, saying that he was leading an oceanographic research cruise to the Pacific Ocean (the Siqueiros Fracture Zone to be precise) and they needed another geologist on the crew. I said yes (with Ms. Buddyball’s blessing) and flew from Omaha to Acapulco to catch the research vessel Atlantis II and we sailed south to about 9o N latitude. I got to participate in one of the ALVIN dives, where three of us climbed in what is essentially a 7’ diameter titanium sphere and sank to the East Pacific Rise (a depth of about 2 miles) and made observations and collected samples. It was a highlight of my scientific life.
We’re more than what we do for a living. But what do you do to make ends meet?
I have been a faculty member at a University in Omaha for over 30 years. I teach courses in Geology and have been involved in geologic research for the past 40 years. That is how I came to be on an oceanographic research cruise with the submersible ALVIN and in the Arctic, studying the geology of the archipelago Svalbard. I would not say that I chose my profession so that I could travel, but it has taken me to many really interesting and spectacular places—Turkey 7 years ago and Scotland last year.
What is the most interesting piece of media (book, podcast, movie, show, game, etc.) you’ve consumed recently?
I recently watched all 8 episodes of “The Mandalorian” and found that to be pretty satisfying. I think they are much smarter than the Star Wars movies. I always have a stack of books to read on my nightstand, but nothing has been really interesting. I am currently reading “The Body” by Bill Bryson. He does a nice blend of science, history, and a quirky sense of humor.
While we’re on Star Wars: how many of the original movies did you watch in theaters? Everyone I know who first saw them seemed to be totally blown away.
I was in graduate school when they came out and I had a group of friends who all were very into it, so we went and watched them in Lawrence. They were like nothing else I had ever seen.
You’ve been around Royals Review since nigh the beginning and were instrumental in the creation of the “Kevin” moniker for Royals Review writers, among other things. What has it been like to be a part of an online community that has grown and changed over the dozen years you’ve graced these digital halls?
I have really enjoyed being a member of this community. When you have been around a long time, you do see changes. There have always been differences of opinion on this site, the topics change, but mostly it is about the Royals. My level of participation has varied as life events distracted me or took time away, but I have always checked in to see what is going on. I think Max has done a great job steering this unwieldy vessel and thank him for being the Great Helmsman. Obviously, highlights include 2014 & 2015 playoff posts. I remember banning myself from commenting during the actual games, as I tended to get caught up in the individual moments and not the overall picture. But I was there, watching and reading. And lastly, I was on a field trip to Yellowstone and stopped the van outside the park so I could take a picture of the road sign showing the turnoff to Grass Creek.
Editor’s note: The Battle for Grass Creek is a legendary piece written by Will McDonald, founder of Royals Review. Sadly, the images in the piece are broken, but it can still be read in all its glory.
Alright, other than Grass Creek, what’s your favorite Royals Review meme? There are....so many.
I really, really enjoyed Mitch’s letters home from summer camp. The otters are always nice because they signify a victory. Maybe the 18-11 start? Trust the Process™? $11 Taco Bell?
What Royals Reviewer would you be most interested to meet in person? Why?
This is hard. I don’t think I can keep it to just one person. I have been posting with some of you for a very long time. Farmhand and I share a love of geology and sustainability (and we are both from the Northeast), Phil and I have been communicating for a long time (I have a brother who lived on the Kenai Peninsula) and if the timing had been better, I might have been able to have lunch in Phil’s kitchen. I still hope to meet Minda at a Storm Chasers game and Max at a tailgate party before the next Royals World Series victory. And the rest of you lot!