Roger Pugh tells the story of Sam Brown, who was tragically taken before his beloved Kansas City Royals broke their World Series drought.
Sam Brown was an absolute dyed-in-the-wool one hundred and ten percent rusted-on fan of the Kansas City Royals.
There are thousands of them in Kansas, but the remarkable aspect of Sam’s story is that he lived on the North Shore of Sydney Australia and had never been within ten thousand miles of Kansas or any major league ballpark.
He was dedicated to world best sports fan practice and blessed with living in one of the very few cities in the world where four codes of football are played professionally. His natural sporting instincts flourished more as a fan than a player.
The teams honoured with Sam’s unswerving loyalty were far from infallible and indeed became notorious for their pronounced lack of success. However when the Sydney Swans, his Australian Football focus, won the national championship his place in the Sports Fan Hall of Fame was assured.
But for some unfathomable reason the Kansas City Royals held the special place in his sporting heart.
Sporting savants like his brother Dave and I used to give Sam heaps because he bowed to the Royals. This was the pathway we warned to the World Series wilderness offering only perpetual pain and last place in the Division.
Sam’s belief however never wavered. His bond with the Royals was unbreakable and non-negotiable.
Sadly Sam passed away in 2013 at the age of thirty. He stoically fought an insidious disease for three years making no more of it than one of his teams having a lean trot.
Having kept the faith during the years at the bottom, he was cruelly denied the chance to rejoice in the Royals’ time at the top. Their World Series victory would have brought the sort of fulfilment that only a world-class sports fan like Sam can fully savour.
I once asked him how his close affinity with a team over ten thousand miles away actually happened. He didn’t have a definitive answer, but I suspect it was because they were Sam’s sort of team, scrappers whose day will inevitably come.
Following Sam’s passing three of his brothers went on a baseball pilgrimage to the US in his memory.
It’s hardly surprising that when they visited Kauffman Stadium in Kansas they sensed Sam’s presence because after all that was his idea of heaven.
Sam had an abundance of the special gifts needed to achieve sports fan greatness. Indeed, I think of him as the first true global sports fan, the pioneer of a new breed evolving to match the new dimensions in global sport.
The Royals’ coach claimed their World Series triumph was built on a great spirit amongst the team. I’ll bet that was Sam.