SIDELINES: Winning from loss

Royals’ Edinson Volquez finds motivation from father’s death

Bright lights, roars of fans cheering your name, you know you’ve made it. It’s the World Series. This is what players have dreamt of since they were little kids in their backyards: hitting a mammoth home run to win the game, or striking out the world’s best hitter as a mob of teammates crowd around you with the noise of the crowd drowning everything out.

For the players, it becomes surreal. It truly is the experience of a lifetime, one that many players can only dream of. So what happens if your childhood dreams came true, but with a twist? What if what was supposed to be the best experience of your life turned out to be a nightmare?

That’s what happened to Royals pitcher Edinson Volquez. A successful veteran in the league for over 10 years, Volquez had basically seen it all—except a World Series. When a longtime veteran like Volquez first makes his trip to the big stage, he’s out to prove something. He’s been waiting for this moment for a long time.

When you’re the first pitcher up in the rotation to kick off the World Series? Well, that’s pretty much the biggest spotlight as you could ask for. Unfortunately, the spotlight was shining on Volquez for a different reason. Prior to Game 1 of the World Series, almost all of America knew that Volquez’ father died— an ESPN report aired just an hour prior to the start of the game–but Edinson himself was unaware of that fact. He was told of his father’s passing only after pitching a 6-inning quality start.

Due to all of the sudden emotions affecting him, he was unsure if he would be able to pitch again in the series. He didn’t know what was the right choice; he was grieving and wanted to be with his family, but also didn’t want to let his team down.

Ultimately, after spending a couple days with his family in the Dominican Republic for his father’s funeral, he decided to pitch Game 5–a potential series clincher–to honor his late father and show his commitment to the team. Volquez took the mound before the game and wrote his father’s initials “D.V.” into the dirt. He proceeded to pitch 6 innings of 1-run ball, claiming after the game that “[his father] was there with [him].”

Sometimes, the experience of a lifetime doesn’t have to be your best one. It may even be your worst. What you come to realize is that it’s not these moments and experienes themselves that define you, but it’s how you react to them. What Edinson did was extremely brave and undeniably difficult. When people think back to the 2015 World Series, they will remember that brave man—the man who overcame adversity to lead his team to a championship.