KANSAS CITY -- The Royals' organization and its players give of themselves throughout the year, and it seems to culminate with the spirit of Thanksgiving.
For the eighth consecutive year, Royals associates from all departments of the organization joined a player in serving Thanksgiving meals to men and families at the City Union Mission in Kansas City. This year, the player was pitcher Jeremy Guthrie.
"I'm not doing a whole bunch but to see the smiles on their faces and talk baseball. A lot of them had comments about last season and questions about the upcoming season, so that makes it fun," Guthrie said. "Just to be able to share some time with them, joke around with them and take their minds off the worries they have in their lives right now, I think that's the biggest benefit. To come down here and make them smile and share a few moments together."
Guthrie helped serve meals to 200 or so men who had fallen on hard times. As he put down plates of food, some of the guys suggested players the Royals might get to ensure that they'd make the playoffs.
Guthrie answered them by drawing a parallel.
"You guys know better than anybody that even if you do all the right things, sometimes life just doesn't go the way that we plan or hope or expect," Guthrie said. "God truly has struggles for us to overcome, and they make us stronger and he has things that we don't anticipate. And you've just got to keep working and working and push through it.
"It's not as important in sports as it is for you guys in real life, but the principle is the same. We can have all the right players and at the end of the season it just doesn't work out. You have injuries or we just don't win games -- we had bad luck, we don't pitch well, we don't hit well, whatever it may be. That's how it is with you guys. You might have a job and be very blessed and all of a sudden, the job is not there anymore, the money is not there and all of a sudden, you find yourself here in the Mission -- a place where you would have never seen yourself. But the idea is to keep kicking and keep grinding and hopefully things work out."
Royals Charities at forefront
The signature event for Royals Charities, under the leadership of the Glass family, is the Diamond of Dreams held on the field at Kauffman Stadium. Players blend in with fans in a glittering evening of food, fun and fund-raising auctions. This year, more than $150,000 was raised in support of the University of Kansas Hospital's Neonatal Medical Home.
The Royals Charities 50/50 raffle, held nightly at home games, raised more than $250,000 for local charitable organizations.
The Shirts Off Their Backs raffle of players' jerseys on Fan Appreciation Night raised $30,000 for Variety, the Children's Charity of Kansas City.
The annual Celebrity Golf Tournament, featuring current and former players, raised $60,000 for the Special Olympics of Metro Kansas City.
The Ali Kemp Educational Foundation's annual self-defense course for women was held at the stadium. The 5K Run/Walk used the stadium warning track as part of its course.
Players in the community
James Shields established a Big Game James Section for foster care children and their families for five games this season. They received tickets, a T-shirt and a free meal plus a session with Shields.
Eric Hosmer was host to children and mentors in the Big Brothers Big Sister program during batting practice before selected games. He served as spokesman for BBBS and was involved in the organization's events.
Hosmer joined teammates Guthrie, Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, Greg Holland, Alex Gordon, Aaron Crow, Billy Butler, Jarrod Dyson, Tim Collins and Will Smith plus Hall of Famer George Brett in a project for Braden's Hope for Childhood Cancer. They posed for photos with kids battling cancer for a 2014 calendar, which is available for $10 via www.royals.com/calendar, that will benefit the charity.
Several players and alumni joined stars Harrison Ford and Chadwick Boseman at the Kansas City premiere of the Jackie Robinson movie "42." The event benefited the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and the Kansas City Sports Commission.
Escobar, Salvador Perez and Luis Mendoza signed autographs for fans at the Cinco de Mayo Fiesta at the Guadalupe Center in Kansas City. Guthrie led a group of Royals associates in serving a Thanksgiving meal at the center for Hispanic families.
Tim Collins, Bruce Chen and Guthrie joined with the football Chiefs and Operation Blessing International to distribute food and toys to more than 2,000 needy families in Kansas City.
Players used pink bats and wore pink items to highlight breast cancer awareness on Mother's Day. Gordon helped select honorary bat girl Kelly VanBuskirk, a cancer survivor.
Escobar and Mendoza took part in baseball ability camp for kids with physical and developmental disabilities at the YMCA Challenger Sports Complex.
Groundbreaking for fields adapted for special needs children at Independence, Mo., and Olathe, Kan., were attended by Collins, Crow, Butler, Holland and alumni Dennis Leonard, Jeff Montgomery, Jim Eisenreich, Jaime Bluma and Steve Jeltz. The fields were built from funds raised during the 2012 All-Star Week.
Butler and his wife, Katie, were joined by other players in thanking donors to his Hit-It-A-Ton program that helped the Bishop Sullivan Center feed Kansas City's hungry.
Chris Getz, Guthrie and Moustakas greeted fans at a Players for the Planet two-day recycling event to collect unwanted electronic items.
Escobar, Mendoza and their wives were chairs of the annual Baseball Equipment Drive that this year benefited Cristo Rey Kansas City High School for economically-challenged students.
For the seventh year, unsung community leaders were recognized at each home game with a place of honor in the Buck O'Neil Legacy Seat behind home plate.
Members of the military were saluted during each home game in the "Our Heroes" campaign.
Greater Kansas City Day involved 1,200 volunteers selling a special edition of the Kansas City Star to help send kids to Rotary Youth Camp as well as other children's charities.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com.