MLB.com Columnist

Alyson Footer

Royals salute fallen firefighters before Game 5

Royals salute fallen firefighters before Game 5

KANSAS CITY -- The Royals wore Kansas City Fire Department hats during their workout on Tuesday's off-day, in memory of Larry Leggio and John Mesh, the two firefighters who lost their lives while on duty one night earlier.

On Wednesday night before their 7-2 win over the Astros in Game 5 of the American League Division Series, the Royals again saluted the two local heroes, during an emotional pregame ceremony that included a moment of silence and a stadium-wide appreciation for both firefighters and their families.

Game Date Result
Gm 1 Oct. 8 HOU 5, KC 2
Gm 2 Oct. 9 KC 5, HOU 4
Gm 3 Oct. 11 HOU 4, KC 2
Gm 4 Oct. 12 KC 9, HOU 6
Gm 5 Oct. 14 KC 7, HOU 2

Needing no prompting from the public address announcer, a packed Kauffman Stadium immediately noticed the line of firefighters that had filed onto the field, in front of the Royals' dugout, in anticipation of the start of the pregame tribute. Applause and cheers thundered down from all corners of the ballpark, especially when the families of the fallen firefighters took their place, front and center.

The Astros and Royals lined up outside their respective dugouts, while the firefighters took their place along the first-base line. When everyone had assembled, the scoreboard went black, followed by a moment of silence.

The tragedy had taken place only two days before, but the families of Leggio and Mesh, outwardly emotional during the ceremony, wanted to be at Kauffman Stadium for the pregame tribute.

"People grieve in different ways," said Royals vice president of community affairs and publicity Toby Cook. "We weren't sure if we would even see the families tonight. They have a funeral in a couple of days. But they saw the [players] wearing the Kansas City Fire Department hats and shirts [Tuesday] at batting practice. They said, 'Let's go hang out at the ballpark.' So they're going to stay [for the game]."

Broadcast on pregame ceremony

As the firefighters and families exited the field upon the conclusion of the pregame ceremony, several Royals players engulfed them with hugs, including Eric Hosmer, whose father was a 29-year firefighter for the City of Miami, Fla.

"Sports are an escape for a lot of people," said Royals general manager Dayton Moore. "It gives them a chance to enjoy a passionate sporting event, such as the playoffs. Hopefully in time those families will heal and have peace about the great service and heroism of their dads and their husbands."

Royals Charities will also be donating net proceeds from the 50/50 Raffle to the Surviving Spouse and Family Endowment Fund (SAFE), administered by the Kansas City Metropolitan Crime Commission, as well as IAFF Local 42.

More tributes and fundraisers will be planned if the Royals advance to the AL Championship Series. According to Cook, the firefighters who lost their lives had been watching the Royals' comeback win over the Astros in Game 4 on Monday afternoon at the fire station. Once the game ended, they got the call about the fire that ended up claiming their lives.

"The next day, we knew instantly that we were going to do something," Cook said. "The fanbase reached out and said, 'They have to do something at the Royals game. And they have to win this for the two firefighters.'"

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.