MLB fans share field with Royals as they hand out championship gear
By Mark Newman
NEW YORK -- Royals closer Wade Davis threw a 95-mph fastball past Wilmer Flores in the 12th inning for the last out of his team's 7-2 victory over the Mets in Game 5 of the World Series on Sunday night, and then he was mobbed by his euphoric Kansas City teammates.
Suddenly, right there in the dogpile on the mound at Citi Field, two average Major League Baseball fans appeared out of nowhere to hand Davis and his teammates modern symbols of success: a new championship T-shirt from Majestic Athletic and a cap from New Era.
"It means everything," Davis said in the celebration scene, wearing the shirt and cap that masses of fans will be wearing in the coming days. "This is the ultimate goal every year, so it means everything."
For the two lucky fans who passed out those shirts and caps to the Royals, it definitely meant everything. Damien Grasso of Fort Walton Beach, Fla., and Steven McGinn of Brooklyn, N.Y., were the winners of the This Could Be You World Series Sweepstakes offered by MLB.com and Lids.
Just being at the 111th World Series clincher was glorious enough, but for these two guys, it was even better.
When the Mets entered the ninth inning with a 2-0 lead, Grasso and McGinn were brought into the Royals' clubhouse, in case Kansas City should rally and require title gear. Then the Royals scored two and forced extra innings, and that's when the unprecedented contest prize really turned into something extraordinary.
For four innings, they sat in the Royals' kitchen as players came and went during the course of a historic finish. There was Kelvin Herrera, fresh off three scoreless innings in relief of Edinson Volquez. Occasional reserves wandered in or walked past toward an indoor batting cage to stay ready. Injured All-Star closer Greg Holland said "Hi." The kitchen attendant had a couple dozen Shake Shack shakes ready for players in the event the Mets won and champagne was not required, but then he decided to refreeze them, and he offered a couple to the two fans.
Grasso and McGinn are actually Mets fans, and they were wearing Mets T-shirts in the sanctuary of the Royals' world, in the club's most priceless moment.
"Just stay neutral," they were advised, as plastic was being put up on lockers down the hall.
Then came the 12th inning, and after the Royals' five-run outburst, MLB officials said it was time for the pair to head for the clubhouse tunnel toward the dugout. They were given a pile of shirts and caps, and they waited adjacent to the dugout. As Davis threw his last pitch and the Royals spilled over the dugout rail toward the mound, Grasso and McGinn followed.
"It was a surreal experience," McGinn said. "I still don't even believe it happened, but it's a once-in-a-lifetime event that happened, and it was so much fun. You're right next to all these people who are spending months to achieve this type of victory and they got it, and we're here to give them all their winning stuff. They were real happy. It's phenomenal."
"It feels like family," Grasso said. "They would give me a shoulder tap like, 'Give me one of those shirts!' [Johnny] Cueto said he wanted another one. He wanted two."
Said Mike Moustakas after being handed his: "This means a lot. I mean, we're World Series champs!"
Grasso and McGinn entered the contest via text message on the night the Mets completed a sweep of the Cubs for the National League pennant. McGinn was at his girlfriend Emma's place, "because every Wednesday, we do date night," he said. They were watching the Mets and Cubs in the NL Championship Series finale, and he "went to MLB.com to find memorabilia the Mets were getting, and I found the banner ad for the text-to-win thing. I just texted a word to a number and I ended up winning. You can't win if you don't enter."
Grasso was at home on his couch in Florida when he saw the TV commercial and texted to win the Lids prize.
"The best thing I ever won before that was a Butterball turkey," Grasso said. "I was 7 or 8, living in Chicago, and I just remember carrying it home from grade school. It was a raffle."
Steve Armus, MLB's senior vice president of consumer products, said this contest prize was part of the unique experience that baseball provides to its fans.
"Where else could you sit in the clubhouse, watch a live feed of the game, watch players go in and out, watch them set up the plastic and catch the emotion of this thing?" Armus said in the 11th inning. "That's what's so special about baseball, and these guys are lucky enough to be here with us. They're great fans, they're here to celebrate the winners and wear exactly what the players are wearing on the field. That's what this whole thing is about."
McGinn works at an ad agency in Manhattan.
"My coworkers thought it was unreal I was winning this," he said. "They had been diehard Mets fans since the day they were born. They were jealous."
Grasso -- who has many family members who are Royals fan -- was working in the operating room at a hospital in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., as an OR internal control coordinator, when he received a message that said he won. There were non-believers around him.
"My boss was like, 'No way. You've got to announce it in the 8:05 meeting,'" he said. "It was exciting. You've got to believe that this could be you and you can actually win."
"This opportunity is wonderful," McGinn said. "I grew up in Detroit and went to baseball games as a kid for years. I never thought I would be able to go to a game of this level, and to be able to go on the field and everything, it's unreal. I can't even believe this is happening. It's awesome.
"It's amazing to be able to wear the stuff that they are wearing. And then to be able to watch extra innings with them and hand out their shirts and caps? You're like, 'What?'"
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.