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The smell of hot dog condiments and fresh-cut grass filled the air surrounding a royal blue sea of stadium seats. They had waited their whole lives for this day.

Their story began many summers ago, like a cheap romance novel sitting on the shelf among years of newspaper box scores, season previews, and one Sports Illustrated special edition celebrating the 2015 World Series champs.

Meg, a small-town girl living in a lonely, Kansas-world, grew up under stadium lights to the sounds of Kansas City Royals baseball. Whenever she couldn’t be at “The K,” she sprawled out on the floor in front of the TV and watched the Royals in a worn-out, faded blue shirt with the name BRETT on the back. It was her lucky shirt.

Across the Missouri border lived Harold, the younger of two sons born to a front office executive of the Royals. Harold’s father devoted his life to the Royals, allowing him to climb near the top of the organization, both in responsibility and payroll. While Harold’s older brother assisted their father and learned the traits of a successful executive, Harold chased the fun that lived in the stadium seats rather than its front office. As a boy who involuntarily attended most games as a result of his father’s employment, Harold often found himself in the spotlight, captured by the largest scoreboard video screen in Major League Baseball mid-shenanigan.

Meg started working for the Royals as soon as she could. At age 16 she sold fans their next “lucky shirt” while working in the team store. Once she turned 18, Meg continued her career with the Royals on the KCrew. Now she was officially a Royals cheerleader, armed with a t-shirt gun.

Harold’s inevitable career with the Royals also began at age 16, only his began at a desk. After two years of sloppy, half-completed tasks and second chances ranging in the hundreds, Harold was demoted to the social media team. He longed for the outside air, and the idea was if they forced a camera in his hands, he couldn’t possibly take part in the shenanigans happening on the other end of it.

During Meg’s mid-inning performance, a clumsy misstep sent her tumbling. But Harold, ever the gentlemen, dropped his camera to catch the fallen angel.

She returned the favor by charmingly saving his job when Harold’s dad asked why hundreds of dollars laid shattered on the ground in the form of camera fragments. More importantly, their love sparked like a late-inning rally.

The two shared everything from kisses to hot dogs but mostly their time and a love for Royals baseball.

Harold and Meg were inseparable. They dated for two summers before Harold handed his camera to a nearby fan while spontaneously climbing upon the same dugout where they first met. Meg performed her routine as usual, but now with a confused smile on her face as her boyfriend climbed up to join the KCrew. Harold stopped the entire routine when he got on one knee and whipped out a ring. Her confused smile quickly turned to every good emotion the human body can have, screaming, smiling, tears, all of joy. It was nearly the same feeling she had watching the Royals win the World Series, but this was somehow even better. So, of course, she said yes.

Yet another summer together, but this one was different because it led to this moment.

This time, they were the attraction on the field, as Meg and Harold met at home plate. She wore a simple, elegant gown; he wore a tuxedo, royal blue, of course. Bridesmaids lined the first base side of home, Royals jersey-bearing groomsmen lined the third base side, and guests sat in the normally expensive patch of seats behind the plate.

And just like every other day they had spent together at Kauffman Stadium, they awaited a two-word phrase that instantly changed everything for the better. Only this time, it wasn’t “Play ball.”

Jake Cantrell

11 in a 21-year old body with an 81-year old soul. Just trying to follow God, wear neat socks and be 1 percent less worse than yesterday."

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