After mom's death, Royals' Mike Moustakas draws strength from 'guardian angel'

There are few sins in baseball graver than the desecration of a glove.

The glove is broken in with care — maybe with oil, maybe in an oven, always with tenderness. If you are fortunate enough to make your living playing baseball, the manufacturer will stitch your name in the leather.

Write on the glove? You might as well take a bite out of it.

Superstition has its place. Love trumps superstition, as Mike Moustakas will show when the World Series starts Tuesday.

Moustakas scribbled the letters CM on his glove.

"Sharpie," he said. The permanent marker.

He also scrawls CM in the dirt, sometimes near third base, other times near the batter's box. Those letters are the initials of his mother, Connie, who died from cancer in August.

Moustakas grew up in the San Fernando Valley, playing for Chatsworth High's undefeated mythical national champions in 2004. Tom Meusborn, the longtime Chatsworth coach, remembered Connie Moustakas on Monday as a supportive mother, one who wanted no special favors for her supremely talented child, one who guided her son through the onslaught of agents and college recruiters and pro scouts.

In describing her, Meusborn dropped an interesting adjective.

"She was a very competitive lady," Meusborn said.

That fighting spirit kept her going through years of illness, even before doctors could figure out exactly what was wrong. When Moustakas and the Kansas City Royals played last October in Anaheim, she was too sick to make the drive.

He hit a game-winning home run in Anaheim, one of five he hit last October, most of any player in the 2014 postseason. His mother watched on television as the Royals advanced to their first World Series in 29 years.

This season, Moustakas left the Royals twice, each time concerned that his mother was on the verge of death, and each time she rallied.

The last time, in July, Moustakas flew home from the All-Star game and dressed her in his All-Star jersey. Three weeks and three days later, he got the call that his mother had died.

Moustakas is 27. Dale Sveum, the Royals' batting coach, was 28 when he lost his father.

"You know it's getting ready to happen. I knew it was going to happen," Sveum said. "But, when it happens, it's still a big shock."

Moustakas played the next day, after a clubhouse full of hugs, and he has played ever since. In this era of social media, it is amazing that no one said a word publicly for five weeks, until Moustakas himself broke the news of his mother's passing during an interview with Fox Sports.

On the eve of the World Series, Moustakas playfully shared a sense of the "competitive" label that Meusborn had put on his mother.

"She's always with me," Moustakas said Monday. "She's my guardian angel right now. It's awesome. There's no one else I'd rather have guard me than her. I hope you don't mess with me, because …"

And then he laughed, with a trace of mischief in his eye.

"Nah," he said. "She's awesome. She's always going to be there watching over us. It's good to have her at every single game this year."

As Moustakas sat at an interview table, and the national media descended upon him, he dutifully talked about how the Royals responded to last year's Game 7 loss; and how their contact hitters matched up against the hardest-throwing team in the major leagues; and how he had improved from the hitter sent to the minor leagues last summer to an anchor in the Kansas City lineup this summer. (That last one: Don't try to pull every ball.)

But never did he flash as wide a smile as he did when he talked about his father flying in from California for the World Series.

"Landing," he said, "as we speak."

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