KANSAS CITY Missouri (Reuters) - Success starved Kansas City Royals supporters packed Kauffman Stadium for Game One of the World Series against the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday with none more excited than South Korean superfan Lee Sung-woo.
“It’s still like a dream,” the bespectacled Lee told Reuters a short stroll away from the entrance to the Royals clubhouse, a Major League Baseball credential hung around his neck as a guest for the Fall Classic.
“I asked them several times, is it a dream or not? It’s kind of like a never-forget, lifetime dream for me.”
Lee, who became a dogged Kansas City fan in the 1990s and stood by his team during decades of futility, has become an unlikely symbol of Royals fandom this season as they reached the playoffs for the first time in 29 years.
The 38-year-old merchandising manager was cheering the team on from a top-flight seat in section 238 along the first-base line, proudly wearing a custom made Royals blue cap with ‘Super Fan” printed on the side under the team’s trademark golden crown.
Before the game, Lee watched batting practice on the field when he was not being besieged by autograph hunters and folks wanting selfies with him.
The fan-fairytale took flight when Lee fulfilled a dream to travel to Kansas City to see his beloved Royals in August after an Internet campaign launched by the Royals Twitter community that “watched” games together over the years.
Lee was invited by the Royals to come to Kauffman Stadium and throw out a ceremonial first pitch and got to mingle with Royals players and team legends including Hall of Famer George Brett, now in charge of the club’s baseball operations.
He became a good luck charm as the team went 9-1 during his 10-game stay.
”When I came to Kansas City earlier this season I didn’t expect this incredible postseason run,“ Lee said. ”The Royals climbed to first place in the AL Central in August under my watch.
“I remember it was August 11, on the same day I threw the ceremonial first pitch.”
Lee’s triumphant visit moved local documentary maker Josh Swade to travel to Seoul to film his story and try and convince his new employer to let him return to Kansas City for the World Series.
When ESPN took up the cause to shoot his story, the campaign gained momentum and last Friday MLB agreed to provide Lee with a credential and seats throughout the Series.
Not even the ever-optimistic Lee saw the Royals amazing postseason success coming.
“I didn’t really expect this Cinderella story, eight victories and no losses (in the postseason) incredible,” he said.
Asked for a prediction, Lee at first hesitated, not wanting to jinx his beloved team.
“Royals win, 4-2 or 4-1,” the superfan said about the best-of-seven series. “I hope Royals win the series in San Francisco.”
Editing by Steve Keating.