Keppel thankful for father's efforts

Keppel thankful for father's efforts

KANSAS CITY -- Rookie right-hander Bobby Keppel has been a pleasant surprise for the Royals since he was promoted from Triple-A Omaha on May 25. He has had early success just by "trusting his stuff" and pitching the way he was taught in the Minor Leagues.

At times, he has made retiring hitters in the Majors look easy, taking shutouts into the seventh and ninth innings in consecutive starts in early June.

But every rookie has to struggle at some point, and Keppel is no exception. He recently had trouble confining the baseball moments he has shared with his father, Curt.

"I don't have one memory that sticks out," Bobby Keppel said. "I have all those things he's done -- coaching our teams, driving to all my games."

No distance has proven to be too far for Curt Keppel and many of his family and friends.

"Once I got into pro ball, he's driven all over the country," Bobby Keppel said. "Even in Omaha this year he'd drive six hours up to Omaha to see me start then drive six hours home after the game. Whose dad does that?"

Bobby Keppel said he remembers that his dad took him to his first Major League game to see his hometown St. Louis Cardinals on his fifth birthday, June 11, 1987. He also recalls the batting cage they built in their backyard. A pitching machine would fire balls out of an open garage door.

"Basically he would always go in the backyard and we would hit balls together all the time," Bobby Keppel said. There was a little common area that he used to go up and hit fly balls to me and ground balls."

Curt Keppel was also the coach of the St. Louis Comets, Bobby's AAU team that went to the National Championships for three straight years in his adolescence. The Comets came in second in the nation when Bobby was 14.

"He's just always done anything that I needed for baseball," Bobby Keppel said.

Then he added a Father's Day message for his dad: "Thank you for always being there, No. 1. No. 2, affording me every possibility and basically anything at anytime I needed to help me further my career. He was there every step of the way."

Kevin Druley is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.