KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The moment that young right-hander Brady Singer steps onto the mound for the Kansas City Royals on Saturday in Cleveland will no doubt be surreal, the culmination of a lifelong dream hatched as a boy growing up in Florida and fostered by family and friends along the way.
Too bad they won't get to see it in person.
When the decision was made to play an abbreviated 60-game major league season without fans, it meant that anybody making their debut would do so without their support system there to enjoy it. Not mom and dad, who may have gotten them started in the game. Or little league and high school coaches that taught them to throw a curveball or turn a double play. Or the college coaches that may have turned their turned natural talent into the makings of a pro.
Instead, like all baseball fans, they will be forced to watch on television the realization of a goal years in the making.
“We've had this conversation internally,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said, “and it's been so hard just asking guys to have those conversations with their parents, or putting ourselves in their shoes. If my son was called up to the majors, there is no place I'd rather be than in that stadium. It takes a village for these guys to get where they are.”
Perhaps more so than any other sport.
Someone had to teach a kid to catch and throw. To dig in at the plate and choke up on the bat. The time and energy that parents, grandparents and friends put into nurturing the seeds of a ballplayer are almost impossible to count, never mind the financial toll the game can take on a family with a prospect that has big league talent.
So it's no wonder that one of baseball's time-honored traditions is for family and friends to be sitting in the stands when a youngster debuts. They are usually interviewed by the television broadcasters between innings, or brought into the radio booth. Afterwards, they're almost always there to meet their new major leaguer outside the clubhouse.