Man returns 1985 banner to Royals

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A Wisconsin banker has returned a banner he stole from Royals Stadium during the 1985 World Series.

Jerry Kuehl, 50, was a senior at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire when his roommate scored World Series tickets from an aunt. Kuehl, of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, told The Kansas City Star that even though he was a Milwaukee Brewers fan, he cheered for the Royals in their 3-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Kansas City went on to win the World Series in a seven-game thriller.

After the game, Kuehl was standing near the foul pole where the 8-foot-long bunting, with an eagle beneath the word "Welcome," flapped. Kuehl couldn't resist. He took the flag off the rail and folded it beneath his jacket.

The stolen souvenir hung above bunk beds in Kuehl's dorm room, and after he graduated, he stored it on a shelf in his basement. Eventually, he started to feel guilty.

"I just considered it a novelty item at first," he said. "Then I realized, I stole this. I never considered myself a person who steals. But it is what it is."

On some July 4th holidays, he'd take the cloth out of storage and hang it above the front door of his home. When friends asked, he said he "borrowed" it and intended to return it when the moment felt right.

That moment came when the Royals won the Sept. 30 wild-card game 9-8 against the Oakland Athletics. Kuehl packed the banner into a FedEx box addressed to Kauffman Stadium and sent it along with a letter confessing his crime. He enclosed a $250 check to Royals Charities as restitution.

"I'm having fun all over again," he said. "And this time for good reasons, not bad."

Royals officials are thrilled Kuehl returned the flag. If they make it to the 2014 World Series, Hall of Fame director Curt Nelson said he'll consider making space for the banner along with Kuehl's letter.

"It's a nice little story of redemption," Nelson said.