Royals pay tribute to two firefighters killed in KC blaze

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Royals honored two firefighters who were killed fighting a massive blaze that engulfed an apartment building.

First baseman Eric Hosmer and third baseman Mike Moustakas wore Kansas City Fire Department shirts during batting practice Tuesday, the day before the Royals host Houston in Game 5 of the AL Division Series. Pitcher Jeremy Guthrie and manager Ned Yost wore department hats.

Hosmer's father, Mike, is a retired Miami firefighter.

"I was fortunate never to have a phone call from the fire department saying something crazy happened," Hosmer said. "So I can only imagine what their families are going through."

The firefighters who died were identified as Larry Leggio and John Mesh. Two others were injured when part of the building collapsed late Monday in Kansas City, Missouri. Two people were rescued.

"For me, personally, this really hits home," Hosmer said, "having a father be a firefighter for 29 years. I just remember plenty of times being on the phone with him, and him hanging up and having to go on a run. It's always a tough time, and nervous, to wait for a call back."

That background inspired Hosmer to put together a charitable wine-tasting event through "Uncork for a Cause," with the proceeds benefiting the Greater Kansas City Firefighters Local 42 Community Assistance organization, including several local firefighters battling cancer.

"My parents did well with my brother and me. We never realized how dangerous the job was until we got a little older," Hosmer said. "My dad would work 48-hour shifts and be off for 24 hours, and whenever you talk to him on the phone, and you hear the bell ringing at the station and he has to go on a run, there's always nerves that something could happen."

Mike Hosmer was never seriously injured in the line of duty. And if baseball hadn't worked out, his son likely would have followed him into the family profession.

"That was the career I was going to pursue," Hosmer said. "I grew up in the firehouse. I would always go visit the guys, and just seeing the bond they have, there's a lot of similarities to the bond we have here."

Several members of Yost's family have also been firefighters, especially on his wife's side.

"I think we all woke up with heavy hearts today," the Royals manager said. "I've spent many, many hours at fire stations growing up, just going to sit and talk to my friends who were firefighters, and spend an hour or two there. It is personal."