Taylor and Tyler Hill noticed some conspicuous talent in the outfield while waiting for their 7 p.m. slow-pitch softball game. The Parkville, Mo. twins were sure that the man patrolling left-center field was Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura.
“’Oh my god, that’s got to be Yordano Ventura. It looks just like him,’” Taylor Hill said of her thoughts.
In this case, intuition was right. Just a day after the Royals lost in Game 7 of the World Series, Ventura made an unexpected appearance Thursday, Oct. 30 at Tiffany Springs Sports Complex in Kansas City, spending a couple of hours playing softball and interacting with fans.
Taylor and Tyler were among the first to make the connection.
Eventually, hundreds took notice, and by the end of their game, a large crowd assembled to view the game and marvel at the rookie phenom, who threw a shutout in a 10-0 Royals win in Game 6 of the World Series. Word of Ventura’s presence and photo evidence quickly circulated on social media and websites.
A headline at Deadspin.com declared, “Yordano Ventura Doesn't Seem Too Sad About Losing The World Series,” which rankled many Royals fans.
“I just don’t agree with that,” said Taylor Hill, 23, a Park Hill South graduate and former softball player at Division I UMKC. “I think he was making an appearance out in the city, and it was really cool. I don’t think it says anything about how he felt about the World Series. I think he’s a 23-year-old kid, and he’s having fun.”
Taylor and Tyler Hill asked for permission and had their picture taken with Ventura prior to their game. He played two games on the night and then hung around to sign hundreds of autographs and pose for pictures, although Twitter user Matt Pitts (@MattPitts_) indicated he asked some not to post them to social media.
However, Ventura didn’t hide from the attention, and some photos show him with young children playing at adjacent fields.
“Pretty much as soon as we took a picture of him, the rest of our team took pictures with him and everybody else started coming around, too,” Taylor Hill said.
Earlier in the day, Ventura made an appearance for a season celebration ceremony at Kauffman Stadium in front of a few thousands fans. He arrived at the Tiffany Springs fields a few hours later wearing a Royals hat and socks to apparently play a two games on his brother’s slow-pitch softball team.
Against the Hills’ team, Ventura went 1-for-3 at the plate and made a few nice plays in the outfield. He didn’t pitch.
Taylor Hill said she roped one ball in between Ventura and the left fielder and went into third base with a triple. She briefly considered rounding the bag and trying for home – a scenario similar to Royals star Alex Gordon in the infamous play in Game 7 against San Francisco with Kansas City down one run in the bottom of the ninth.
Like Gordon, Taylor Hill held up at third, not wanting to test a relay throw from Ventura to the plate.
“I’m not going to challenge his arm,” she said with a laugh, adding, “Though it would’ve been pretty cool to say I got thrown out by Yordano Ventura.”
A fan of the Royals, Taylor Hill did not have the chance to attend any of the eight playoff games at Kauffman Stadium. Although she enjoyed the playoff run during the past month, she said the chance encounter with Ventura left an impression – one probably shared by the hundreds he interacted with that night.
“It was like being at Kauffman Stadium, but I was at Tiffany Springs,” she said. “It was unbelievable.”