Pro Sports Column: The angels among us

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We have all come to a stopping point in our lives where we have felt lost. Everyone has had a piece of them ripped away and felt like they have nothing left.

Now imagine this moment happening right before heading out to the mound to pitch game five of the World Series. A game which would clinch your team’s first world series title since 1985.

This was Edinson Volquez’s moment.

After pitching in game one,  the Kansas City Royals’s starting pitcher was informed that his father had passed away due to heart failure. He recorded a quality start, surrendering six hits and three runs over six innings.

After the Royals’s game four win, Volquez rejoined the team after flying back from his father’s service for their post-game press conference. The 32-year-old had nothing but praise for his father.

“He was everything for me. He was one of the greatest men ever,” Volquez said in a press conference following game four on Saturday. “I remember when he bought me my first glove, my first spikes, [drove] me to the field. He knew I wanted to be a baseball player, and he gave me a lot of support.”

Volquez went on, explaining the difficulty of pitching in game five without the support of his father.

“I just want to thank God for my opportunity tomorrow to be on the mound and show the world why I’m here: to compete with the other team and give a chance to our team to win. I’m pretty sure my dad is gonna be proud of me to pitch [game five],” he said at the news conference.

Volquez also mentioned he was glad he wasn’t informed of his father’s death until finishing game one.

“I think that was the best way to [notify] me. If they had told me before the game started, I don’t know if I would [have been] able to pitch,” he said.

Volquez was able to hold his own while starting game five Sunday night. The Royals’s pitcher earned another quality start, hurling six innings and allowing only one run on two hits, in what would become a World Series win for the Royals.

Volquez must have known what this game meant and that he had a little extra support this time on the mound.

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“I was walking back to the bullpen and I [could] feel my dad right behind me giving me a lot of support, and told me to just enjoy the game like you do and be happy,” said Volquez

Royals pitcher Chris Young also lost his father this season on Sept. 27 in the heat of the Royals’s post-season push.

Before the Royals game on Sept. 27 against the Cleveland Indians, Young learned his father was rushed to the hospital, according to the Kansas City Star. Young was adamant about starting the game, telling manager Ned Yost he still wanted to take the mound. Young went on to pitch five innings while not allowing a hit in the Royals 3-0 win over the Indians, according to the Star.

During the game, Young  learned his father, Charles, had passed away.

During the next game, the Royals issued a statement on Young’s behalf, reading, “Last night my dad, Charles Young, passed away at the age of 70. Today, I had the opportunity to honor him playing a game we both love, alongside my baseball family. I felt him next to me with every pitch. I am grateful for the support of my teammates, coaches and the entire Royals organization during this difficult time. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.”

Fast forward to game four of the American League Championship Series against the Toronto Blue Jays. Young started the game for the Royals, but after said that things felt different.

“He’s with me and he’s enjoying this as much as I am,” said Young, according to Sports Illustrated.

The stories of these two gifted pitchers should be a reminder to us. Professional athletes are humans too, and they grieve just as we do. Often we place them on a pedestal because of their natural-born gifts, but we need to remember they are just like us.

I myself lost my father when I was 13, so I understand what these two men are going through.

When we lose someone close to us in our lives, we need to remember this is not the end for us. We must push on through adversity and show the world that though we may be burdened with a great loss, we can still perform at a high level and make the ones we have lost proud as they look down upon us.

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