KANSAS CITY -- There John Farrell sat, his 6-foot-4 frame folded into a seat, looking as inconspicuous as possible for a man who manages the Red Sox every day of the year. Instead of a baseball uniform, he wore a light-blue button-down shirt and jeans. For one game, Farrell was
KANSAS CITY -- There John Farrell sat, his 6-foot-4 frame folded into a seat, looking as inconspicuous as possible for a man who manages the Red Sox every day of the year. Instead of a baseball uniform, he wore a light-blue button-down shirt and jeans. For one game, Farrell was just another fan -- in attendance to watch his son, Royals right-hander Luke Farrell, make his Major League debut in Kansas City's 11-6 win over Minnesota.
On Saturday at Kauffman Stadium, while the Red Sox played the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre, Farrell tried to blend into the crowd. He arrived moments before first pitch, hustling to his seat with a small bag in tow. The night before, he had managed Boston in Toronto.
To be at this game and watch one of his three sons play in the Majors for the first time, well, it was a moment Farrell, who politely declined an interview, couldn't miss.
"He was torn a couple of days ago," Red Sox bench coach Gary DiSarcina said. "He wants to stay. He feels his duty is here. But after talking to a couple of people and [Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski] giving his blessing -- it's going to be a proud moment for him."
Farrell had seen Luke pitch before, often watching near the right-field foul pole, but he told reporters on Friday when he saw Luke pitch in the Dominican Republic this past winter it had been for the first time since Luke was a sophomore in college.
"You get to a point where you miss so much," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "Some things are really important. Some things are just more important than a baseball game -- even though this is a baseball game."
For the Farrell family, this day carries more weight than other Major League debuts.
Eight years ago, doctors discovered Luke had a non-cancerous tumor that was the size of a golf ball near the carotid artery in his neck. The tumor was removed, but it returned two years later and had to be removed again. Then in August 2015, John Farrell began treatment for Stage 1 lymphoma. By that October the cancer was in remission. Both father and son have been healthy ever since.
"Keeping things in perspective -- places I've been, things I've had to go through the past few years -- this is an awesome day," said Luke, who looked for but couldn't find his father in the stands.
Though Farrell said on Friday he would likely be pacing during the game, he remained seated throughout the top of the first inning. At one point, he took his iPhone out of his pocket and snapped a picture of Luke as he pitched. He acted as any father would trying to hold onto a moment.
The moment didn't last long. Luke allowed five runs, walked three batters and gave up a home run before Yost pulled him with two outs in the third inning. But when he walked off the mound, the crowd applauded him. Farrell clapped, too, smiling as his son exited the field.
Wilson Alexander is a reporter for MLB.com based in Kansas City.