Twice this season, Mike Moustakas raced away from the baseball diamond to his dying mother's side.
Twice, Connie Moustakas bounced back and he returned to play third base for the Royals.
When fans voted their beloved "Moose" in as the final All-Star for the American League, they had no idea the memories they gave him that he will treasure forever.
After the final out that Tuesday night in July, Moustakas raced to the airport. He would have less than 24 hours with his mother in California, but he had to be there.
So he gave her his All-Star jersey and she donned it with utter pride. She showed it off to her doctors.
"It was a pretty cool memory," Moustakas said. "It was amazing to be able to share that with her."
And then she ordered her only son to return to his job.
"The one thing that gave me any comfort in any of that was that he got to go home and see her," manager Ned Yost said Thursday. "She told him to get to back to playing baseball. She wanted him to play baseball."
She succumbed to her cancer battle in early August, and her beloved son kept playing. He kept his pain hidden from the public until he told a national Fox Sports writer on the last road trip about her death. He said after his weeping father told him about his mother's death that he broke down and sobbed with his dog, Gus, licking away his tears as his wife held him.He spoke with a Kansas City Star columnist recently.
And then he put a brave face on and the private man talked publicly about his pain with the rest of the Kansas City media on Thursday.
He recalled her devotion to him and his sisters, and her cheers at his games. He said she was "the mom that was always there," and not just for her own children.
"She was a second mom to them," he said.
She was quite punctual and made sure her children were at events early.
"If I was five minutes, I was still late by her standards," he said.
He hit a home run early in Thursday night's game and a double.
He now looks up toward the heavens and draws her initials in the air.
The third baseman still looks for his mother. He reflected Thursday on her pride in him from his T-ball days to his MLB All-Star days.
"She has always been proud of me and she always will be proud of me," he said. "You couldn't ask for a better mother than she was."
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