Note: The following story appeared on the Kansas City Royals' web site earlier this week. Those of you who receive my Pilgrim Scribblings e-mails will be aware of Chuck Obremski's valiant battle with cancer. If you wish to be added to this list, please e-mail me at: email@example.com - David
...Chuck & Linda Obremski
ANAHEIM -- Just one more hit and the Royals might have won Sunday instead of finishing their road trip winless in six games. Tony Graffanino had five hits himself and he felt like a winner -- in faith, not in the win-loss column.
Graffanino's fifth hit drove in two runs in the ninth inning, but that wasn't quite enough as the Royals lost, 7-6, to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in front of a crowd of 42,345. What the fans didn't know was what went on before the game in the Baseball Chapel meeting in the visitors' clubhouse. There the Royals heard from Chuck Obremski, the Angels' chaplain and a man who is dying of cancer.
After the game, Graffanino wanted to talk about Obremski and the inspiration he conveys. "Since the last time we were here, he's lost 30 pounds. His hair is gone. He doesn't have any muscle mass anymore. He knows he has days, weeks to live and he still comes out here and does chapel for us," Graffanino said. "He has an awesome message for us and he puts life in perspective again." The message is that there is more to life than batting average and RBIs and pitching victories and big paychecks.
"He says, 'Guys, I may have only a month to live but I don't want to take away the joy I have in my life. ... Nothing can rob me of it,' " said Mike Sweeney, the Royals' chapel leader.
There was quiet fire, though, and gratitude within Graffanino. He had five hits for the first time in his career. Even in a loss, he was the game's shining performer. But his thoughts were with Obremski.
"Before the game, I was moved to tears just thinking about him -- that he still comes here to do this for us when he could be at home with his family rather than spending his last days or weeks doing this," Graffanino said.
"I was just wondering if there was some way I could honor him. And then talking about him rather than whatever else went on and, obviously, this was my opportunity." So Graffanino talked not about himself but about a man dying of cancer.
"I was allowed to go 5-for-5 today and be able to mention him, and let him know how much he has meant to us and every other team that comes through here," he said.
"I wanted to play well in his honor."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com.