Royals pitcher Danny Duffy plans to raise the ante for pediatric cancer research

Of all the things Royals pitcher Danny Duffy to be thanking former teammate Eric Hosmer for as we approach two years since “Hoz” last wore a Royals uniform, Duffy said he’ll be in Hosmer’s debt for something that had nothing to do with performance on the field during their World Series runs — or any baseball-related insight, for that matter.

“Eric Hosmer introduced me to Noah Wilson, who was an incredible kid,” Duffy said, referring to the child who died in June 2015 of Ewing’s sarcoma, a form of cancer, and AML leukemia. “His mother and father, Scott and Deb, are unbelievable people. They’ve kept Noah’s legacy alive by creating Noah’s Bandage Project.”

Last spring, the veteran left-hander pledged to donate $1,000 for every strikeout he had during the season to Noah’s Bandage Project, which raises funds for pediatric cancer research.

This season, Duffy said he plans to match every donation up to $100,000 pledged to the organization. All of the details were still being ironed out, according to Duffy, but he’ll be raising money for the organization again this year.

“If they’ll have me, I’ll be working with them for the rest of my life,” Duffy said. “They’re unbelievable people, and what they do for kids who are fighting cancer is incredible. Those kids are unreal. Those kids are warriors. We’re in their corner.”

Duffy, who struck out 141 batters last season, quipped that he got away from the donation per strikeout method because his strikeouts have gone down. Two years ago he pledged $500 per strikeout before recording 188 strikeouts.

The Olathe-based organization was named after Wilson, who was diagnosed with bone cancer at age 6 and died a year later.

“I wouldn’t know them if it wasn’t for Hoz,” Duffy said. “I’m really thankful to him. I’m really indebted to that dude.”

Duffy, a 30-year-old California native, has developed a deep affinity for Kansas City over the years and has been active in community events. He recently took part in an event sponsored by MLB’s Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) initiative in KC.

“I come from a small town and with RBI it reminds me a lot of my hometown,” Duffy said. “I told them that. Everything they’re doing over there is just trying to get kids involved in athletics. I think athletics plays a huge part in kind of growing into who you are. You get to socialize in athletics. You get to be around other kids.

“I was an only child, so my quote unquote brothers and sisters came through baseball or soccer or basketball. It’s really important to involve your kids in stuff like that. If we can pave a path to get kids more on fire about athletics, then we’re going to do it.”

A former third-round draft pick and home-grown starter, Duffy has gone 53-55 with a 3.92 ERA and 811 career strikeouts during his career. He was a member of the club’s starting rotation during the AL championship season of 2014 and 2015.

“It’s obviously extremely important to win on the field, but it’s just as important to win off the field,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. “That’s one of the things I think all our sports teams in Kansas City do a terrific job of. We’re proud of Danny’s efforts in the community as well as many of our players in the community.

“Our entire front office is involved in the community and we doing different things. It’s really important to us, and it’s something that we embrace.”

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Lynn Worthy covers the Kansas City Royals and Major League Baseball for The Star. A native of the Northeast, he’s covered high school, collegiate and professional sports for The Lowell Sun, Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, Allentown Morning Call and The Salt Lake Tribune. He’s won awards for sports features and sports columns.