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Royals superfan will miss Opening Day at the K, shares her struggle

By Betsy Webster

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    KANSAS CITY, Moissouri (KCTV) — Opening Day for the Royals comes late this year. For one superfan, it will be unlike any other. Because of the delay caused by the lockout, it will fall on her birthday. But, that’s not the only thing that makes it different.

Sam Waters has been making signs for every player to come up to bat. Before COVID kept her and her husband from being in the stands in 2020, they were season ticket holders for six years. They had become staples on TV broadcasts because of their devotion, enthusiasm and signs.

The announcers dubbed them King Richard, because of the plastic Party City crown he wore, and Sign Girl Sam.

“That’s what we looked forward to for Opening Day was being together with Royal family,” Sam Waters said the night before this year’s Opening Day.

During COVID, when cutouts took the place of living, breathing fans, 2-D versions of King Richard and Sign Girl Sam were there, but the 3-D versions were bummed. When KCTV5′s Nathan Vickers interviewed them that year, Richard was on oxygen.

“He was a strong man, but his heart wasn’t strong, and his lungs weren’t strong,” said Waters.

On Opening Day last year, she was asked to raise the Royals flag after a tribute to Richard, who died that January.

“I was so absolutely honored,” said Waters. “He would have been beyond proud.”

At the time, she was trying to push through.

“I would be strong, and I would be proud, and I would honor the Royals and his memory no matter what,” she said of her mindset then.

But, the months that followed without her partner of 22 years were a struggle. She sought help from her doctor and a therapist. She realized earlier this year that the best way to heal would be to watch Opening Day 2022 somewhere else.

“It’s a transition period of ‘it was’ and ‘we were’ as opposed to now, ‘I am,’” she explained.

So, this Thursday, she will be cheering from home, and she knows just what sign she’ll be holding.

“The future is bright,” she said, holding a gold glittery sign with those words. “Absolutely the future is bright.”

It’s a phrase that applies to the Royals and to her, aware that the time will come when she’s ready to return to the K.

“I’ll be there, and I’ll be there with signs for sure. But it’s a fresh start for everyone,” she declared.

Her experience has made her an advocate for mental health awareness. During our interview, she implored anyone who “feels not like themselves” or “slipping away from normalcy” to visit their doctor, be open about their feelings and open to medication and counseling.

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