2014 Royals enjoyed their reunion but were aware of who wasn’t there: Yordano Ventura

Former Royals manager Ned Yost was back in Kansas City this weekend for the celebration of the 2014 team, and he was reminded of another reunion he had attended.

In 2017, Yost returned to Milwaukee for a get-together with members of the 1982 Brewers, who lost to the Cardinals in seven games in the World Series. The morning after the reunion, he got a call from Dayton Moore, who was Royals general manager at the time.

“I gotta tell you something,” Moore told Yost. “Yordano was in a wreck last night.”

Yost’s mind raced. Did Ventura hurt his arm or his knee? Would he miss significant time?

“Is he OK?” Yost asked.

“Dayton goes, ‘No, he’s gone,’” Yost recalled. “And that just struck home even more how special it was for that ‘82 team, and yeah, there’s a hole here because of that. And you know, Yordano was a big part of our ‘14 team and we miss him a lot.”

Ventura died in an automobile accident in the Dominican Republic on Jan. 22, 2017. He was just 25 years old.

Days later, Salvador Perez, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, Greg Holland, Johnny Cueto, Edinson Volquez and Jarrod Dyson attended Ventura’s funeral.

“He was such a talented kid,” Holland recalled. “And he kind of reminded me of Salvy. Just a kid getting to play baseball, you know, like 9 years old, his youthful exuberance. The look on his face. His smile is what I really, really remember. And that was tough on us. He’s not here anymore. I would have loved to see him pitch for a lot longer.”

The members of that 2014 team gathered Thursday at Loews Kansas City Hotel for a cocktail, then celebrated their achievement that night at Union Station.

On Friday, the team was at Kauffman Stadium where it once again heard cheers from Royals fans.

The players loved the reunion but were aware of Ventura’s absence.

“When we lost Yordano when we did, it was tough to swallow, you know, especially him being a lot younger,” Hosmer said. “He was one of the first guys that I really got to start that leadership role with and I saw a lot of big time improvements for not only him on the field, but as a person. So yeah, it’s tough not having him here.”

After winning the electric Wild Card Game, the 2014 Royals rolled over the Angels and Orioles and took the Giants to a seventh game in the World Series. The Royals won both games Ventura started in the Fall Classic.

That included a sensational effort in Game 6. With the Royals facing elimination, Ventura threw seven scoreless innings, allowing three hits with four strikeouts as the Royals won 10-0 at Kauffman Stadium.

“You know, I think about him all the time. We all do. We miss Ace a lot,” said Mike Moustakas, who used Ventura’s nickname. “Again, he had that fire and that passion to pitch and he was a guy you’re excited to play behind every fifth day and we miss him a lot.”