On the anniversary of one of the darkest days in Kansas City Royals history, Royals Farm Report decided to do a bit of a tribute to the late, great, Yordano “Ace” Ventura.
I remember. I remember following your journey through the minor leagues. I remember watching you pitch in Spring Training before your rookie year in 2014. I can remember Ron Washington after the game famously asking, “Where did they find that guy?” You took the world by storm. I remember when “The Score” wrote this article about you after that start. It was prophetic, in a way. Could a 22-year old kid be the difference in the Royals making the playoffs for the first time in 29 years? It seemed unfair. It seemed ridiculous to think that a 22-year old with three big league starts could carry a team to the playoffs. And then you did it. 30 starts and a 3.20 ERA later and the Royals were in the playoffs, thanks in part to you. Nothing seemed impossible for the Royals. Not anymore. I remember that, Ace.
I remember the way you came out in Game 6 of the World Series that year. Having just lost a dear friend, you showed up to play anyways. You pitched arguably the most inspirational game that I’ve ever witnessed. You trotted out to the mound with “RIP O.T. #18” written on your hat for everyone to see. The stadium, the players, the coaches, we were all family that night. There in support of one of our family members who had lost a loved one. You didn’t disappoint. I remember the passion in which you pitched that game. I remember the leg kick in the 6th inning. It was at that moment that I thought, “We’re going to win a World Series.” It didn’t end that way, not that season, but that Game 6 will live with me forever.
I remember 2015. I remember when you started on Opening Day against the White Sox. The Royals won 10-1. Moose was batting 2nd (funny how well that worked looking back) and hit a HR. The Royals would go on to win their first seven games of the season, and I don’t think there was a doubt in anyone’s mind that the Royals were going back to the Fall Classic. But it all started with you, Ace. You threw the first pitch of that season. I remember that pitch. Much like your debut in 2013, you were the beginning of one of the most special rides in Kansas City history. I remember that.
I remember, Ace. I remember waking up one year ago today. I was laying in bed in my room in Warrensburg, MO. One of my dearest friends, and a huge Royals fan, was also asleep down the hall. I remember walking into his room to ask him if he’d heard the news. He didn’t believe me. I remember scrambling on Twitter to see if it was true. Surely there’d been some mistake. This can’t have happened. Not to the Royals. Not to Ace. I felt like my heart had been ripped from my chest. I think all of Kansas City did. Most of us had never met, but we all had the same connection. On that day I remembered you, Ace. I remembered every single moment of joy that had ever occurred in my life thanks to you and your team. I remember Carrington Harrison and the guys at 610 Sports Radio making a trip to the studio, on a Sunday, so Kansas City could remember you together. I remember, Ace, and I’ll never forget.