Duffy's dad encouraged him to dream big

Duffy's dad encouraged him to dream big

KANSAS CITY -- Royals left-hander Danny Duffy was 7 years old when his father, Dan, took him to his first Major League game at Dodger Stadium.

The duo made the trek to Los Angeles from Lompoc, Calif., about a three-hour drive. When Danny got inside the stadium and walked through a ramp toward their seats, he got his first glimpse of the perfectly manicured field.

"Dad," Danny said, "do you think I'll ever have a chance to play on that field?"

Dan didn't know how to respond.

"I was kind of speechless, because how do you answer that to a 7-year-old?" Dan said. "So, I told him, 'Yes, son -- if you eat your vegetables, do your homework, and always do what your mom tells you to do.'"

Dan and Danny at Dodgers Stadium. (Duffy)

Little did either of them know Danny's dream would come true about 11 years later, when Danny had his one and only pre-Draft workout at Dodger Stadium.

"That was just so cool," Danny said. "I thought, 'Wow. I've made it.'"

The years have passed since, but Danny, now 27, and his father remember those moments from Danny's youth as if they were yesterday. That special bond remains intact as they celebrate Father's Day this year.

"My dad and my mom introduced the game to me," Danny said. "We have pictures of me at 2 years old with a baseball in my hand. He would play catch with me all the time. He means everything to me."

Dan knew his son had the determination to get to the pros.

"He was just so anxious to improve and go to the next level," Dan said. "Whatever he did, he wanted to get better from Little League on up. He was so motivated."

However, it wasn't until a showcase event held for Danny by a local scout that Dan realized just how much talent his son had.

Duffy's six scoreless innings

"I remember all the scouts were there with their radar guns," Dan said. "And I kind of peeked at a couple, and I kept seeing Danny hit 95 and 96 [mph]. I think that was my aha moment."

The next year, Danny was drafted in the third round by the Royals. He worked his way through the Minors and constantly improved. Finally in 2011, he made his Major League debut.

Since then, Danny has pitched in two World Series and proudly wears his 2015 championship ring.

Through it all, Dan, a former investigator for the Santa Barbara Sheriff's Office who is now retired, has been there for constant support.

"I'm just so proud that he made it and keeps getting better," Dan said. "He wants to always keep getting better. That's who he is."

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.