CLEVELAND: The sun shone on the first-base side of Progressive Field on a windy Tuesday evening.
Clinton residents Denny and Denise Lough sat three rows behind the dugout chatting and laughing with family and friends. In front of them stood their son, David Lough, the starting right fielder for the Kansas City Royals.
Lough, a 2004 Green High School graduate, is living out his dream as a major leaguer, playing in his 26th big-league game of the season and 46th overall.
“It’s phenomenal to watch David play out there,” Denny said. “This was his dream and he is playing it out right now.”
Denny and Denise were not the only fans in the crowd wearing No. 7 “LOUGH” jerseys. David’s brother Damon, sister Danelle, sister-in-law Kristy and brother-in-law Nick were also in attendance along with supporters from Green and Mercyhurst College.
“We are loving watching every minute of this,” Denise said. “We have talked with him and spent time with him, but we give him his space too. He needs it to do his job.”
David Lough’s journey started in Akron, where he was born on Jan. 20, 1986. He grew up a fan of Cleveland’s pro teams, the Indians, Browns and Cavaliers. Now 27, he is more comfortable during his second stint in the majors.
“I thought about it more last year when I first got called up,” Lough said. “We did a little thing last year with the media from Kansas City and got on the field and talked about what it was like as a child growing up in the area and coming to the games. I soaked it up it then. Coming here is great. It is always great to have support in the stands, but now it is just more about baseball. I am over that hump of really noticing that I am in Cleveland and playing in front of all these people. Last year, it really sunk in big time. I am more comfortable now.”
Lough played baseball, soccer, basketball and football at Green and earned 10 varsity letters. He then starred at Mercyhurst in baseball and football.
“I was a spectator a countless number of times at Indians games,” Lough said. “Growing up as a child, we always came to Indians games. That is one of the events we loved to go to. . . We always watched those teams in the 1990s. The ’95 and ’97 teams were amazing. Albert Belle and all those guys, it was awesome to watch those guys play.”
The Royals drafted Lough in the 11th round of the 2007 MLB Draft and he played in the minor leagues exclusively up until 2011. He played most of 2012 at Triple-A Omaha and then was called up to the majors and made his debut on Sept. 1.
Lough played in 20 games for the Royals last year and batted .237 (14-for-59), with nine runs and two RBI. He started this season back at Omaha and in 37 games he batted .338 (52-for-154) with three home runs, 29 runs and 17 RBI.
A promotion came on May 16 and Lough is taking advantage of the opportunity.
“I had a good spring training, but didn’t make the team,” Lough said. “They sent me down. I kind of got discouraged about that, but I kept my head on straight and did what I had to do in Omaha. I hit well there. There was an unfortunate injury to Jarrod Dyson that allowed me to get the call back up here. I am just trying to showcase what I can do as a player and hopefully I get a chance to stay on this team.”
Lough entered Tuesday with a .278 batting average (25-for-90) with the Royals with a home run, seven runs and 10 RBI. He had a four-hit game against the St. Louis Cardinals on Memorial Day. He went 1-for-4 in a 4-3 loss to the Indians.
“He has done a nice job,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “When he came up last year, I think the scene was a little big for him, which it is for most young guys when they first come up. This year he came back to spring training with that experience under his belt. He understands what the big-league experience is like.”
Lough, who earned his college degree from Mercyburst, is also benefiting from being around veteran players such as Miguel Tejada and hitting coach George Brett, a World Series champion and a member of baseball’s Hall of Fame and 3,000-hit club.
Lough helped the Royals defeat the Indians 2-1 Monday by going 2-for-4 with a double off starter Carlos Carrasco and a bunt single off reliever Rich Hill.
“It is incredible to see David playing in the big leagues,” Green baseball coach Jon Wallace said. “I knew when I had him he was a special breed.”
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org.