Three years ago, my church started a non-profit called Coldwater to provide free food and clothes to friends in need in the community. One of my friends works in the clothes closet—sorting, folding, and organizing bags and boxes of clothes onto hangers and racks. This friend found a Royals shirt that was my size and placed it on my desk, along with a note, “Thought of you when I saw this.” I unfolded the shirt. It was a T-shirt Tuesday giveaway that said “Affeldt—48” on the back.
I remember reading Joe Posnanski’s article that seemed to confront Allard Baird with the reality of Jeremy Affeldt first making the KC Royals in 2002. I had listened to his Spring Training debut on the radio and was fascinated by the hard-throwing left-hander with a sweeping curve. I quickly became a fan.
I remember the fingernail-blister problems that developed in his rookie season. I remember listening to all the post-game questions and newspaper commentary about ridiculous solutions for the problem.
I remember wanting Affeldt to be the Opening Day starter in 2003, and couldn’t believe that Pena decided on Runelvys Hernandez on the basis of a coin toss.
I remember going to a game against the Yankees for my birthday and watching Affeldt pitch a couple of innings out of the bullpen relieving Kevin Appier. The Royals won the game by the historic score of 11 – 0.
Affeldt was traded by the Royals to Colorado, where he got his first World Series experience, and then to Cincinnati. Affeldt experienced the trials of injury and the ups and downs of a major league career before landing in San Francisco.
In 2009, Affeldt was awarded the Set-Up Man of the Year Award and won the World Series with the Giants the following season. He has now started his own non-profit organization called Generation Alive and engages younger fans in helping to feed the hungry and provide clean water for people around the world.
Last summer, as part of the Blue Crew package, my daughters received a voucher to go take a tour of the stadium. We picked a random day when the team was out of town and ended up being the only people in the last tour. The woman giving us the tour shared numerous stories about the inner-workings of the stadium as well as experiences she had had with players over the years. We sat in locker rooms and dugouts and in the interview room. We saw everything. Trevor Vance even invited the girls to step on the sacred grass. At the end of the tour, there was a box of autographed baseballs, and the tour conductor let my daughters each pick one ball. Both girls chose a ball with Affeldt’s autograph.
“Dad, do you remember anything about Jeremy Affeldt?” my oldest asked.
We stopped at Krispy Kreme and, while eating fresh doughnuts, spent time remembering together.
The optimist-dreamer part of me still thinks that we can play the “remembering” game later this season.
“Do you remember (fill-in-the-blank’s) injury?”
“Do you remember when they lost 12 in a row?”
“Do you remember when Duffy was removed from the game?”
“Do you remember when Perez joined the team?”
“Do you remember…?”
We’ll look back and remember all the struggles and trials the Royals went through as they learned to play together while celebrating their push to get into the post-season.