KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Rain, shine, win or loss, the Kansas City Cauldron can be heard throughout Children’s Mercy Park cheering on Sporting KC.
Hundreds of devoted fans singing chants and clapping along to the beat of the drums with Eduardo Meza leading the charge.
“He is always positive. ‘Come on, Loco! Let’s play the drums. Come on, Loco! Let’s get it done. Come on, Loco, let’s go, let’s go!'” said Hector Solorio, founder of La Barra, a supporter’s group for SKC.
On Saturday, Sept. 25, Meza died in a work-related accident, shocking his family, friends and SKC faithful.
“I know whatever happened, it’s not the right moment for him,” Solorio said. “Soccer isn’t only a sport. For me, now I see everybody like brothers, like family. We can cheer today, but tomorrow we don’t know what’s going on.”
Meza, also known as “Basura” or “Pajaro,” was born in Honduras and was the heartbeat heard throughout Children’s Mercy Park on game days.
“I remember he was one of the first people I ever met,” said Sebastian Morales, a Cauldron and La Barra member. “He was always the one that was jumping up and down on the bleachers and he unhinged one. We always just left it because we were like, ‘Should we fix it? No its just gonna get broken again.'”
Peaty Romano is the Cauldron photographer and has documented the group’s fandom for years. He said it is nearly impossible to find a photo in his archives in which “Basura” didn’t have an instrument.
“He’s either got some sort of percussion instrument: the big drum, the snare drum. He was playing a conch shell!” Romano said. “Anything to makes noise. Just basically a fixture, basically the heart and soul. He really was.”
Anyone who steps foot in the Cauldron can immediately feel the passionate fans dancing and jumping to the beat of the drums to cheer on the home team.
Fellow drummer Bill Coster says no one hit the drum like Meza.
“He is super passionate about music [and a] very energetic person,” Coster said. “Always welcoming to new people, introducing himself, hitting the drum harder than anyone I know, putting all his might into it. I would sometimes wonder if he was going to break the skins.”
Morales said he’d use gloves to avoid getting blisters, but Meza would go all game without any protection for his hands.
Even in pouring rain, he never stopped the beat.
“There are fans and then there are super fans. This guy, he was just beating the crap out of that. Water going everywhere and he couldn’t care less. People were like, ‘Screw it, I’m going down!’ Throwing their ponchos off getting drenched. That’s just the way he was,” Romano said.
Even when Sporting Kansas City are down or lose a match, Meza’s infectious energy would keep the crowd focused on cheering and making noise.
“It’s very easy to get down on the team in that situation,” Jeff Carlson, a member of the Cauldron, said. “I know he was one of those guys that he wouldn’t have let that stop him. He would have just kept on going.”
His energy left an absence in Sporting KC’s most recent match against the Seattle Sounders. Kansas City went down early and ended up losing the match 2-1.
“There is times now where I wish I could have spent an extra moment with him or had an extra conversation with him,” Coster said. “[Sunday] at the game I was constantly thinking about him playing. I was there for the game, but I was more there for him.”
Meza leaves behind three children, his mother and father, and countless friends from the Cauldron and SKC family.
“I love you guys in life,” Solorio told his fellow Cauldron members. “Thank you for everything and let’s do this together for Basura.”
On Friday, Oct. 1, a benefit will be held at his auto shop at 3801 E. Ninth St. in Kansas City, Missouri.
Starting at 11 a.m., plates of food will be available for $12 with the proceeds going to help his family pay for funeral expenses.
A GoFundMe page for Meza’s family has been created to help with expenses as well.
Funeral arrangements for Meza are scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 2, at Larkin & Garcia Funeral Home. Viewing will be from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. with the funeral service taking place from 1 to 2 p.m. The funeral is open to the public.