Royals, fans excited for Opening Day at The K

Royals, fans excited for Opening Day at The K

KANSAS CITY -- It was gray and chilly at mid-afternoon Friday, but Kansas City greeted its home team with cheers and warmth as the players took the field against the White Sox for the season's first home game.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon uncorked the ceremonial first pitch after on-field introductions of 23 Royals alumni, including Hall of Famer George Brett and the two teams. A giant U.S. flag was unfurled across the outfield by members of the military, and at the conclusion of the national anthem, a squadron of seven small planes executed a flyover.

Overwhelmingly, fans in the full house at Kauffman Stadium were wearing blue -- many, to be sure, in heavy jackets and wool headgear. The first pitch came with the temperature at 46 degrees with 16 mph winds.

"It means a lot to everybody. I think our players were dying to get back here to our fans," manager Ned Yost said. "They're dying to get back to this stadium. It's a big deal.

"The first opener that we had in Detroit is kind of a drag, because you've got to go through all the pomp and circumstance, and it's not even your fans. Your home opener is different, because you enjoy your fans, the place is packed for you instead of against you, and there's a real excitement coming back to this place. Because the players, especially in the second half last year, felt such an energy from the fans. They're excited to get back, they're excited to get into the routine of a baseball season where you're playing every single day, and you can get on a roll and get going."

Just before the game, Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain received an award as the team's top defensive player from Wilson Sporting Goods' Bill Hartmann. Then, starting pitcher Jeremy Guthrie threw the first pitch to Adam Eaton at 3:11 p.m. CT.

The players were ready to go.

"It's great to be home," said slugger Billy Butler. "This is definitely home for me."

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.