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KC Royals reflect on first big-league home runs: ‘It’s kind of a dream come true’

Kansas City Royals second baseman Michael Massey shouted at the baseball.

Given the situation, who could blame him?

Sixty at-bats is quite a long time to wait, especially for the first home run of one’s big-league carer.

Massey, who made his major-league debut on July 15, 2022 for the Royals in Toronto, had already achieved a number of other caeer “firsts” — his first MLB hit, for instance, came in his second career game, and he drove home his first run against the Boston Red Sox at Kauffman Stadium.

Circling the bases, however, had eluded him. And hitting a homer is one of the most iconic moments in professional sports. Those precious seconds spent rounding the bases afford the player a moment or two for reflection and celebration.

That revelry typically continues in the dugout with teammates afterward, and Massey longed to taste it.

He finally got his opportunity. On August 18, 2022, he drilled an 0-2 cutter off Tampa Bay Rays reliever Shawn Armstrong over the right-field wall at Tropicana Field.

“I hit down the right-field line in Tampa and I was just talking to it the whole time,” Massey said. “It looked like it was going to hook foul and it stayed right inside the foul pole.”

Massey had played out this scene countless as a kid in his family’s backyard. In a matter of seconds, that vivid fantasy had become reality.

“I remember floating around the bases like it wasn’t real,” he said.

Several Royals have similar stories. First home runs are special.

Just ask first year Royals outfielder and mahor-league veteran Hunter Renfroe. He hit his first career home run off future Hall of Famer Madison Bumgarner in San Diego in 2016.

But his parents missed it.

“It was literally the day after they left that Bum was pitching,” Renfroe said. “It was a fastball in and I was able to bring my hands inside and hit it to the short part of Petco Park in left field. I was able to get it out. It was a cool deal.”

To this day, Renfroe — who has belted 180 home runs in the majors — still jokes with Bumgarner about that moment. His parents also give him a hard time about it.

“They were mad,” Renfroe said with a smile. “They said, ‘As soon as we leave, you were going to hit one.’ It was a cool moment.”

Renfroe has made it up to his folks. And now he’s a proven slugger with six seasons of 20 or more home runs. That first home run remains his most memorable, though: He said the baseball is stored away in a special place to commemorate the accomplishment.

The first-homer scenario played out a little differently for another first-year Royal, infielder Adam Frazier. He didn’t necessarily hustle to retrieve his home run baseball.

Instead, he wanted it to land in the Allegheny River behind PNC Park in Pittsburgh.

Frazier, who played for the Pirates at the time, drilled a pinch-hit, go-ahead home run against the Philadelphia Phillies on July 26, 2016.

He hit the homer off former relief pitcher Edubray Ramos. The baseball landed near the top of the bleachers in right field ... just a few feet from the river.

“It felt good,” Frazier said. “It’s kind of one of those blackout things where you just react and are happy it happened.”

Frazier still thinks about hitting a home run into the Allegheny River. He has never done it, but another opportunity arrives this season. The Royals will play Frazier’s former Pirates team at PNC Park in September.

“I think I hit it foul one time (into the water), but those don’t count,” he said. “It would be a good thing.”

Another Royals newcomer misses swinging a bat these days. Starting pitcher Seth Lugo, who spent most of his career in the National League, is no stranger to hitting.

To date, he has hit exactly one home run in his major-league career. And he did it without batting gloves or any type of protective equipment.

“That was my favorite baseball memory and the best thing ever,” Lugo said with a smile.

In 2017, he ambushed a fastball from former Colorado Rockies pitcher Chris Rusin. Lugo had the green light to swing and blasted the ball over the left-center field wall at Citi Field in New York. It was his 27th career at-bat with the Mets.

“Jogging the bases was the coolest thing ever,” he said.

It’s rare to see a pitcher hit these days because the universal designated hitter rule was adopted in 2022. Too bad, because Lugo enjoys swinging freely at the plate. He said hitting gives a pitcher an opportunity to see how different pitches move when you’re standing in the batter’s box.

Ironically, Lugo also still remembers clearly the first homer he allowed as a pitcher. He said he didn’t give in to former National League MVP Christian Yelich — and, as a fellow “slugger,” he wasn’t too upset about serving it up.

“It was a 3-2 count to Christian Yelich and a changeup just off the plate,” Lugo said. “And it just squeaked through the rails in New York. So, it wasn’t a big one. He didn’t get me.”

Royals captain Salvador Perez hit his first home run against Max Scherzer in Detroit. Bobby Witt Jr. crushed his first homer in last year’s I-70 series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Each was special in its own way and leads to this consensus: You always remember the first one because it’s unique.

“I think I got the silent treatment from my teammates,” Royals utilityman Garrett Hampson recalled of his first homer. “It’s something you can’t really put into words.”

And something that will last forever.

“You don’t really feel it happened,” Frazier said. “You hit a homer in the big leagues, it’s kind of a dream come true.”