World Series influx of fans visit giant baseball in small Kansas town

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MUSCOTAH, Kan. — The season all comes down to one big game for the Kansas City Royals. Win Game 6 against San Francisco on Tuesday — or the World Series is over.

One group of baseball fans in Atchison County celebrate the game by chasing a potential world record.

Even in small towns like Muscotah, Kan., baseball is seen as being a huge American pastime. Two years ago, a group of residents realized their town was about to get a new municipal water tower.

Jeff and C.J. Hanson have been married for the past 17 years, and they’re two of the many locals who decided to turn the top of the old water tower into the world’s largest baseball.

The Hansons say it’s made of thick sheets of steel, and as a water tower, it could hold as much as 35,000 gallons of water. It sits 20 feet high, making it larger than the houses it sits alongside.

C.J. and Jeff remember February 2012, when the Muscotah water tower was taken down in two pieces. Welders were used to put the ball back together, and 10 gallons of paint have been used so far to make it seem authentic.

“Some people just smile. Other people are downright excited at the possibilities,” Jeff said, describing people’s first reactions to the big ball.

“It makes them feel good to be part of something positive.”

Muscotah is the birthplace of Baseball Hall of Famer Joe Tinker, who, as a Chicago Cub, was considered one of the best fielding shortstops of the early 20th century.

During the past two summers, the Hansons have helped bring the big ball up to speed, but there’s still work to complete.

“I believe it’s working. We still need to do more on it to get it up to have memorabilia in it — as well as local history,” Jeff said.

The Hansons say weekend travelers are coming to see the big ball for themselves, many of whom want to see the Royals win the World Series.

“We do have people coming up from area towns,” C.J. said. “Maybe that’s why last week, people came by to see it because of this World Series going on, and since Kansas City is so close.”

And although Jeff says he’ll always be a Cubs fan due to Tinker’s tie to that club, he admits this World Series has been captivating. He’s cheering for the Royals to win it all, and then celebrate by coming to see the giant ball in Muscotah.

Jeff says he hopes to see work on the giant baseball completed by next July. He says the Guinness World Record Committee won’t certify the ball as a record-setter, because it’s a replica, and not a real baseball.

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