Being on the field with Jeremy Affeldt at AT&T Park for his retirement ceremony two weeks ago was a dream. Well the dream continues...
Yesterday, I got word from the Kansas City Royals that they are honoring me at tonight's Game 5 ALDS against the Houston Astros. They are providing tickets for my immediate family and I will be sitting in the Buck O'Neil Legacy Seat.
The Buck O'Neil Legacy seat is behind home plate, just down from where I sat with my father for the last time at a Royals game a few days before he died. I know my father would be really proud of what's happening.
A little over a decade ago, I had the privilege of speaking on a panel to a group of youth workers. My fellow panelists that day were Royals great Mike Sweeney, youth worker Dana Nearmyer and Royals' pitcher Jeremy Affeldt. From that moment on, Jeremy invited me into his life as a pastor, theological conversation partner, spiritual guide and most of all, friend. We have been through a lot together with lots of valleys and mountain top experiences. I helped Jeremy with his first book, To Stir a Movement and welaunched an initiative called Something to Eat, which has provided nearly 4million meals to those struggling with hunger.
A year and a half ago, Jeremy started talking a lot about retiring. It wasn't because he was struggling with his performance. (I should have pressured him to retire at All Star break last year and then he wouldn't have pitched against my beloved Royals and getting the win as a pitcher in game seven.) He talked of retirement because he loves his family and grew increasingly sad about missing time with them. His three boys are growing up quick and he hates not being with them more. There were a couple of times earlier in the season that he thought about quitting abruptly.
A couple of weeks ago the Giants front office called and asked if Vicki and I would come to be a part of a special ceremony honoring Jeremy at today’s Giants’ game. I am honored to be here and grateful to the Giants for spending the money to bring family and some friends to San Francisco to pay tribute to Jeremy who helped them win three World Series Championships since 2010.
I look forward to what God has in store for Jeremy and Larisa in the years ahead. It has been a highlight of my life to watch Jeremy develop as a player (just look at his postseason stats, putting him in the company of legends like Mariano Rivera and Babe Ruth), even more, to see him grow as a follower of God in the way of Jesus. He is committed to come along the “least of these” (Matthew 25) and to stand up as a leader to call a thing what it is. Perhaps most of all, Jeremy has become more than a friend. The Celts had a phrase to describe what I’m talking about. Anam Cara, is Gaelic for “soul friend” and that’s what Jeremy is for me.
A very surreal week started with a wonderful tailgate meal with Vicki while anticipation mounted for the Chiefs playing New England on Monday Night Football on a perfect fall evening in Kansas City. Even though we love our Chiefs, the city is in frenzy over the KC Royals. While waiting for the kickoff the atmosphere was enhanced by a dozen or so Royals players who made a surprise appearance on the field at Arrowhead. The crowd roared as they walked around the perimeter of the field, giving high fives and chatting with fans. The Chiefs made a classy decision to feature a Royals congratulation video on the jumbotron. Arrowhead was charged up. I felt like the Chiefs had a good chance to win but no one expected a 41 to 14 spanking of Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. This was SO FUN. We also broke the Guinness Book of World Records by becoming the loudest open-air stadium in the world reaching 142.2 decibels.
This event was opening act for the headliner happening on Tuesday, when the KC Royals would return to post-season play for the first time in 29 years. If the opening act featuring the Chiefs was so good, then certainly the headliner playing the next night would surely be stunning.
Tuesday morning started out charmed when I pulled up to one of my regular coffee stops to find George Brett holding court with some buddies, talking baseball and telling stories. George saw the Brett Jersey I had bought my father several years ago hanging in my back window. That brought a big smile and thumbs up from the Hall of Famer.
I headed to Kauffman Stadium early to take in all the festivities. I particularly went to sit in the same seat I sat in next to my father on his last outing before dying a little over a year ago. My dad taught me how to love baseball so deeply. When it became clear that we would be playing the Oakland A’s in the Wild Card game, I knew I had to be there. The A’s came to KC from Philadelphia. They never had a winning record in KC but I loved them. In fact, my parents had to get special permission at my grade school to let me where my Kelly Green and Gold A’s hat. I even had my school picture taken with my hat on. When my father told me that Charlie Finley was taking the A’s to Oakland, I cried for days. It wasn’t long before KC was granted an expansion team that we wouldcall the Royals. Some of my earliest memories are of my father taking me to old Municipal Stadium to see the A’s and then the Royals play. Ewing Kauffman, the owner of the Royals, worked to get us a new stadium, along with Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt. Several times a month my dad would take to the overview hill to watch the progress being made on the new stadiums. So it was special, painful and joyful all at the same time to sit in this chair and remember.
The pre-game festivities set the stage for an amazing, one of a kind night. I chatted with Jamie Roach, my brother-in-law; Eddie Garlich, a Youthfront kid now grown up; friends Gary and Vickie Pener; I saw friend and Royals legend Mike Sweeney and exchanged texts; and for a special treat I discovered in row two behind the Royals dugout and right in front of me, Julia Burbridge, a Youthfront supporter and friend, with her two daughters, Lisa and Anna. I was missing Steve, Julia’s husband, who was in Palm Springs on business. I eventually moved down a row to sit with them. I got non-stop messages and texts from friends, during the drama of the game, friends who saw me on TV. I’ve learned that sitting near the dugout gets you TV and JumboTron time.
When we went down two runs in the first inning my heart sank but soon soared as we regained the lead. I’m not going to lie – I was depressed and resigned to lose when we entered the bottom of the 8th behind by a score of 7-3. But then magic happened and continued to happen. When Peres hit the walk off single, in what had become the first winner-take-all game to go at least 12 innings since Game 7 of the 1924 World Series, I cried, the kind where tears roll down the cheeks. Even though the clock was striking midnight and I had a 5:00am flight to Sacramento, California for the National Youth Workers Convention, I couldn’t leave. The fans couldn’t leave. The players couldn’t leave until we properly celebrated in astonishment what had just happened. My phone was lit up with texts, v-mails, calls, tweets, Facebook mentions, etc. from friends from all over the world. I so wish my dad could have been at this game. One of those voicemails was from my mother. I called her back on the way home and we celebrated, talked about dad and reminisced.
As I finally pulled myself away from the field, I did, what my dad would have wanted me to do. I stopped at least two dozen 8 – 10 year olds who were walking to the cars with their fathers and mothers. With what voice I had left I enthusiastically told them, “You are so lucky to be here. What happened tonight you will remember the rest of your life. You will some day tell your children about it. You were here. You saw this and you will never forget it.” Once the parents realized I wasn’t intoxicated, they affirmed what I was saying and jumped on the moment to drive home the moment to their children. I think my father would be very proud of me for doing that.
One year ago tonight my father, Dave King, and I, along with my brother-in-law, Jamie Roach and family friend Topher Philgreen, attended a special KC Royals baseball game. It wasn't special because the Royals won, they didn't. It wasn't special because they were still in a pennant race, they really weren't. It was special because it was the last public outing of my father just nine days before he died.
It was special because my father and I really had a thing for baseball. We loved the game and we loved the Royals. During my father's battle for his life last summer we had moments of high hopes for the Royals, but alas... like the last, nearly three decades of Royals' baseball, it, once again, was not meant to be. It was special because we got to go into the Royals' broadcast booth before the game to hangout with broadcasters Ryan Lefebvre, Rex Hudler and Denny Matthews. I wrote about it here.
Today, I thought a lot about my father. It's hard to believe a year has passed by so quickly. I wish he could have experienced what the Royals are doing right now. My father and I used to go to Municipal Stadium to watch the KC Athletics play. He consoled me when Charlie Finley decided to move the team to Oakland, I cried. He took me to watch our new team, the Royals, play at Municipal. He took me several times a month to monitor the progress of the new stadium which would become Kauffman Stadium. We had all those great years of rooting for our team in the golden '80's. I celebrated with him when we won the World Series. I wish he could have experienced this season. I hope my kids get the joy of experiencing a World Series (and a Super Bowl, come on Chiefs).
My father and I had a deeper connection than just baseball. He loved Jesus and served God faithfully and he loved to pray. I've thought about him during this pilgrimage I'm currently on. I've though about him during the offices of prayer we've attended in the Cathedral in Chester, at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Palace and today in Canterbury Cathedral. Yes, we connected on the deep level of our Christian faith, but that doesn't diminish the sweet and passionate connection we had over baseball.
He was a coach to me in life and he was my baseball coach for nearly a decade as a child and teenager. I miss you coach.
My friend Jeremy Affeldt, a pitcher for the San Francisco Giants, just celebrated his 35th birthday, which coincided with back to back wins on consecutive days. Jeremy has won two World Series Championships with the Giants and factored significantly in the titles. He was his team's 2011 nomination for the Roberto Clemente Award and was voted MLB Setup Man of the Year in 2009. Affeldt was also recognized for his anti-slavery efforts with a nomination for the Jefferson Award for Public Service. So far this year Jeremy is once again showing that he is one of the premiere relievers in the major leagues, pitching in 24 games with 19 strikeouts, 9 holds and a 1.71 ERA. And, I might add, the Giants are the hottest team in baseball with a 41-21 record.
All that to say, Jeremy is a better human being than he is a baseball player. Baseball player doesn't define Jeremy, his faith in Jesus Christ does.
That is the introduction to say, if your father hasn't read Jeremy's book To Stir aMovement,do something special for your father on Father's Day and give him this book. Then you can read it after he is done. It is interesting, inspiring and informative. Act now, and you will have it in time.
We have been able to work closely together to grow Something to Eat™ into something unique that not only provides food for those who are hungry but challenges young people to lean into the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 25.
The best part of this video is that it features Larisa, who is much better looking than Jeremy and the dynamos in their relationship.
On Baseball's Opening Day, Youthfront supporter, friend and associate Jeremy Affeldt
releases his first book taking readers off the field and into his life
story. The story of Jeremy’s relationship with our President Mike
and his involvement in our ministry, as well as details of his active
participation with Youthfront’s Something to Eat™ initiative are
featured prominently in the book. Expected to make multiple
best-seller lists, this book offers a compelling, page-turning story for
all readers. Another fan of Youthfront and five time Major League All
Star, Mike Sweeney says, “Jeremy Affeldt may be a two-time World Series
champion and one of the greatest left-handed relievers in major league
baseball but that is just the tip of the iceberg as to the man that he
is. As you will read in this book, Jeremy Affeldt is not defined by
baseball. He is defined and validated as a child and follower of the
most high God.”
Affeldt, pitcher for the San Francisco Giants, tells of the ups and
downs of his life and major league career beginning with his childhood
spent in a military family, the impact his parents had on his life, and
his tumultuous high school years. Affeldt admits that he was often an
uncaring, self-centered athlete who was difficult for his parents and
teachers. So much so, that his dad kicked him out of the home on more
than one occasion. Although he attended a Christian school, Jeremy
wasn’t buying any of it until a series of events led him to see his need
After being kicked out of games and sitting the bench because of his
behaviors and his attitude, one of his coaches gave him books on
attitude and anger control as well as scriptures that Jeremy read mainly
so he wouldn’t have to watch the games from the stands. As the Bible
began to come alive for him, he was also influenced by God’s
transforming work in the life of another student who had been Jeremy’s
archenemy. That was the beginning of Jeremy’s close walk with Christ.
Jeremy Affeldt tells of his opportunities in baseball, his marriage
to his high school sweetheart and, of course, his success including two
World Series Championships – after many setbacks and injuries – in the
The book includes Jeremy Affedlt’s passion for social justice and his
humanitarian endeavors as he continues to use his time and finances to
do God’s work throughout the world. Available now, discover the side
of Jeremy that thrives off the field; the side that is passionate about
freeing the slave, feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty and
seeking justice for the oppressed.
My dear friend and ministry partner Jeremy Affeldt has had another amazing year. He pitched 10 innings in postseason play, with 10 strikeouts and no earned runs contributing to the San Francisco Giants second World Series Championship in two years. Recently, Youthfront partnered with Generation Alive and AbleWorks to package 100,000 Something to Eat meals in East Palo Alto. Check out this TV interview.
Jeremy writes about it (To Stir a Movement);
If you watched Saturday’s video, you’ll know that we had a Something to Eat
event in early December. It was a huge deal for me. It was hard to be
away from my family, and hard for my wife since she was alone with our
three little boys. But I asked God, and God covered us, man. Her parents
came to help, and she flew in to see me.
We had over 400 kids packaging meals that day, to send to Haiti,
Guatemala, and the Dominican Republic. We held the event at Cesar Chavez
Middle School, in East Palo Alto. The kids were middle school and high
school age, plus there were some families that came in with their kids
and volunteered to help. We had kids from the College Track program too. We had a whole spectrum. It was really cool.
There were four or five shootings just in the last month in East Palo
Alto, and nineteen murders on the year. It’s a very high gang area. And
so we saw something awesome that day. We saw these kids come out and
show that they still want to love somebody. They showed that they want
to find joy in something. This was Jesus.
had so many people show up that wanted to help, that we couldn’t even
put everyone to work. So we asked the kids, “Who wants to take a break?”
We had over 400 kids there, and not one of them wanted a break. Nobody
volunteered to leave. So we had to have some of the adults step out,
because not a single kid volunteered to take a break.
That is a fulfilling thing! One of the captains in the East Palo Alto
Police Department came in to check out the event, and he told us, “This
is unheard of in this community. This is not normal, what these kids
are doing. This is awesome.”
That’s fulfillment for me. That’s part of the smile that I crave from
God every day, and I felt it, because I didn’t do anything! I talked to
the kids, I encouraged the kids, I helped out a little bit, but those
kids did everything. I didn’t package any meals. Maybe I helped out a
bit where I was needed, but these kids did the work, man, and they did
it with joy. They had fun. I saw the smiles on their faces. I saw
encouragement. What an awesome opportunity for these kids! I was just so
thankful for it. And the community came together, and adults came in to
hang out with these kids. I was so excited to see that. That’s what
it’s all about.
I was fulfilled because I got to see 400+ kids package 100,000 meals
and realize that they love like Jesus. They used unconditional love.
They loved their neighbor as themselves. They fed people they’ve never
seen before, and probably never will see, people from Haiti and
Dominican Republic and Guatemala that they worked all day packaging food
for. And they did it because they said, “We want to help people who are
hungry.” Yes. It was Jesus.