Mark Gubicza and my mom: a KC Royals Mother's Day tribute

My mom's favorite player.
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A few months ago, my Kings of Kauffman colleague Jacob Milham penned a beautiful tribute to his late mother, inspired by a picture of KC Royals prospect Nate Eaton. His loss was relatively fresh and understandably raw. My own mother passed away nearly 20 years ago. Her absence, however, is still keenly felt by those of us who loved her. With that in mind, and Mother's Day here, I wondered what kind of gift she might like if she was still here.

The answer was obvious. Mark Gubicza. Or more accurately, a look back at her all-time favorite Royal.

Mark Gubicza was a KC Royals icon with a blue glove.

Don't get me wrong. With all due respect to my dad, my mom would have been overjoyed to have Mark Gubicza delivered to her doorstep. Dressed in a tight powder blue uniform, with his brown curly hair poking out from the back of his cap, Gubicza was one of my mom's two open crushes. The other was the magician, David Copperfield. I can't explain that one, other than to say I believe it was mandatory for all women of her age in the '80s to be infatuated with that guy. He did make the Statue of Liberty disappear, after all.

She passed her appreciation for Gubicza down to me. Obviously, my feelings toward him were different. I was obsessed with the blue glove he often sported on the mound. This was before colorful gloves became a regular thing, and it blew my young mind. Back then, a black glove was something special. Most gloves, both in MLB and the sporting goods store were a plain brown. Then Gubicza came along with blue. I wanted a blue glove so bad, but I never did find one. I suppose they're readily available now, but it just wouldn't be the same.

There was more to Gubicza than curls and blue gloves though. Amulti-sport high school star in Philadelphia, he made his debut for the Royals in 1984, joining the rotation and helping Kansas City win the AL West crown. Learning under the tutelage of veterans like Dennis Leonard, Vida Blue, and Gaylord Perry, Gubicza quickly asserted himself amidst the crop of emerging arms in the organization, finishing the season with a 10-14 record and 4.05 ERA, good for seventh in the AL Rookie of the Year vote.