Kansas City Royals pitcher Jeremy Guthrie may not be a world champion just yet, but don’t tell that to the family and friends of Dan Purtell.
The 35-year old lifelong Royals fan was buried yesterday after dying of cancer. He died shortly after Guthrie pitched game 3 of the World Series, a game which the Royals won putting them up two games to one over the San Francisco Giants. In Dan’s final days, loved ones tried desperately to connect Purtell to his favorite team. A friend of a friend used to work for the Baltimore Orioles, the team Guthrie played for from 2007 -2011. The friend had Guthrie’s number and the connection was made.
“When I spoke to him,” said Guthrie, whose mother is Japanese American from Hawaii. “I knew he was very close to the end of his life. But there was no sign of that,” Guthrie said to MLB.com. All he could talk about was baseball and how excited he was for the Royals and for the players he roots for. To have a family that’s touched by that, that’s impactful. That’s real life.”
The celebration of Purtell’s life after the burial continued at the start of game 7 of the World Series Wednesday. All eyes of the celebrants turned to the television to watch their champion Guthrie take the mound.
Guthrie didn’t quite give Purtell’s family the storybook ending they had hoped for.
The right hander lasted just 3 1/3 innings and gave up 3 runs in a 3-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants.
Even in the loss, Guthrie took time to remember Dan.
“I think each one of us will wake up in a couple days,” he said, “and the hurt from the loss will go away, and we’ll realize — whether it’s Dan or another person that’s been touched by this whole experience — ballplayers in this spotlight have these opportunities, and a very small act goes a long way.”
You can read more about Dan’s life in MLB.com.