KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Thousands of Royals fans cheered, offering a standing ovation as they were reunited with former KC designated hitter Billy Butler for the first time since the World Series.
Butler's new team, the Oakland Athletics, are in town for three games against the Royals and the fans offered Butler a warm reception upon his homecoming.
"It stinks he left. Royals fans, we all love Billy Butler," fan Tyler Warrender said.
For more reasons than one, many fans say no matter what team is on the uniform, they'll always be cheering for Butler.
"He's awesome. He gets a lot of great hits. He's a go getter," fan Brad Warrender said.
But Tim Grimes says it's not so much the hits that makes him a fan.
"Spring training we hit it off and formed a bromance, and went from there," Grimes said.
Grimes met Butler's wife in the stands at a game, and before he knew it, he and Butler became good friends.
"It's cool going from a guy I admired on the field to a guy I can call my friend," Grimes said.
And Grimes says it's this friendship that's helping him through the hardest battle of his life, cancer. He was diagnosed last August and soon found out it had spread to his liver, lungs and spine.
Then, just weeks ago, doctors told him it's now in brain too.
"I'm just focusing on the good and still gonna keep fighting," Grimes said.
Grimes went to spring training and Butler and his wife offered to let him stay in their home. Grimes said within the time they've spent together, his positive and giving spirit has rubbed off.
"Seeing how he is with people and the fans. It makes me a lot more aware of how I am with other people. He's so friendly and so inviting and so generous that it makes me wanna be like that," he said.
And it's that spirit that fans said will keep them wearing #16 for a very long time to come.
"Tonight will be a very bittersweet experience, but I know he's excited and we're all excited to have him back," Grimes said.
Butler was honored before the game and given his American League Championship ring.