Royals feel they had 3 angels on their side
Moustakas, Volquez, Young all lost a parent during the season
KANSAS CITY -- Throughout this World Series championship season, these Royals truly felt blessed, as if they had angels on their shoulders.
Perhaps they did.
This was a Kansas City team that bonded through adversity, through the warmth and comfort of knowing each of the players had each others' backs. That kinship was never more apparent when three players -- pitchers Chris Young and Edinson Volquez, and third baseman Mike Moustakas -- lost a parent at some point during the title run, yet still felt the need to soldier on through their grieving and play for their teammates.
"I've never been on a team like this," right-hander Jeremy Guthrie said, "where three of my brothers lost a parent in one season. And for them to go out and play under those circumstances ... it just showed what kind of family we are."
Moustakas lost his mother, Connie, in early August. He began honoring her in every at-bat, drawing her initials "CM" in the dirt outside the batter's box each time he stepped to the plate.
Moustakas is certain his mother had some influence on all the good fortune the Royals experienced in the postseason.
"All that stuff we had to deal with, especially with the way Eddie threw the ball [in Sunday's Game 5 of the World Series], we had some angels on our side," Moustakas said. "The balls were able to bounce our way sometimes and I'm pretty positive that my mom and Eddie's dad, and CY's dad, might have had something to do with that."
Moustakas also is certain his mother is proud of him.
"Definitely," Moustakas said, stopping for a moment to compose himself. "My mom's not only proud of me, she's proud of everyone here. She was always kind of the team mom. She was proud of everyone."
Young lost his father, Charles, in the final week of the season. Young learned of his father's passing the night before he was to make a start. Though the team told him to skip his start and go home to be with his family, Young believed his father would have wanted him to pitch.
Remarkably, the very next day, Young went out and fired five no-hit innings. Without saying a word, he then walked straight to the clubhouse, showered, dressed and headed to the airport to fly home to Dallas.
"I wanted to pitch because my dad understood what it's like to be on a team," Young said, "and how you have to be there for each other."
And now Young is part of a World Series championship team.
"I know that this is his gift to me and to the whole team," Young said of his dad, his eyes tearing up. "I have felt him with me the whole time."
Young, too, believes he has made his father proud.
"I try to honor him every day by the way I live my life," Young said. "But I know he's enjoying this more than I am."
And, of course, there is Volquez, who lost his father, Daniel, just hours before he stepped to the mound in Game 1 of the World Series. The right-hander pitched six solid innings, giving up just three runs in a game the Royals eventually won in 14 innings. After Volquez finished, his wife, Roandy, was waiting for him in the clubhouse to deliver the news about his father.
Volquez returned to the Dominican Republic for the funeral and to be with loved ones. He returned to the Royals in New York less than 24 hours before he pitched in Game 5. Volquez turned in a brilliant outing -- six innings, two hits, one earned run, in a game the Royals staged yet another miracle rally to win, clinching the title.
"I love my dad," Volquez said. "I'm going to love him forever. ... To pitch in the World Series, the last game that I pitched, I think my dad would be proud right now. My whole family would be proud."
Volquez, like Moustakas and Young, felt a presence with him.
"I talked to my dad when I got to the ballpark," Volquez said. "And I was walking back from the bullpen and I felt my dad right behind me, giving me a lot of support, and telling me to just enjoy the game like you do, and be happy."
Volquez did just that, as did his teammates, in an unforgettable series and an unforgettable season filled with extreme sadness and joys.
"What we accomplished together as teammates and friends," Young said, "I'll never forget. We were truly blessed."