An hour before the start of Game 1 of the World Series, the first report about the death of Royals starting pitcher Edinson Volquez’s father Daniel began circulating. It came courtesy of a radio station sports director in Volquez’s native Dominican Republic. Shortly afterwards it was confirmed by two ESPN Deportes reporters. But as Volquez threw the first pitch of the game, it was still unclear whether or not he actually knew about his father’s death.
The first to report one way or another on the issue was ESPN Deportes’s Enrique Rojas, who wrote that Volquez was informed about the death on his way to the ballpark. Multiple reporters queried the Royals, but they wouldn’t even confirm Daniel Volquez’s death, and said Edinson had no knowledge of it. The AP then confirmed the death, and wrote that Volquez was unaware.
If you read the AP’s story right now, however, you’ll see something different. That’s because the AP has updated their story and changed their facts at least twice. While the original story said Volquez was unaware of his father’s death, it was updated to say that he didn’t know about the death pregame but left uncertainty about whether he learned as he went to the mound. A later update mirrors ESPN Deportes’s story, that Volquez found out on his way to the ballpark.
That would seem to settle it, right? ESPN and AP—two large, cautious, traditional news organizations that have Spanish-speaking reporters and reporters on the ground in the Dominican Republic—reported that Volquez learned about his father’s death before he even got to the ballpark.
Not so fast.
While the game was ongoing, Fox Sports’s Ken Rosenthal tweeted that Fox was aware of the reports that Daniel Volquez had died, but with there being uncertainty as to whether Edinson knew or not, they weren’t going to report about it on-air just in case Edinson happened to see the broadcast while in the clubhouse. After he left the game, in the eighth inning, Joe Buck said that Fox had been told by the Royals PR director that Volquez was unaware, and his wife didn’t want him to be told before or during his start.
And now, finally, to add to the mess, we have a supremely confusing New York Times report. It was tweeted out as “When Edinson Volquez took the mound for World Series Game 1, he didn’t know his father had died earlier in the day.” It goes on to cite the Royals’ explanation and asserts clearly that Volquez knew nothing, but also references both the ESPN Deportes and AP reports that say Volquez DID know.
Is that very confusing? Let’s simplify things.
Here’s ESPN Deportes (all emphasis mine):
The father of Edinson Volquez, the starting pitcher for the Kansas City Royals in Game 1 of the World Series, died Tuesday in the Dominican Republic, a family source told ESPNdeportes.com.
The source said Daniel Volquez, 63, died of complications from heart disease. The pitcher heard the news while on his way to Kauffman Stadium.
Two people familiar with the situation told The Associated Press that 63-year-old Danio Volquez died from heart failure. His son was informed of Volquez’s passing on the way to the ballpark, where he was scheduled to make his World Series debut.
What we were told by the terrific PR director for the Kansas City Royals Mike Swanson during the game, was that [Volquez] was unaware. That it was [Volquez’s] wife’s wish that he not be told before or during his start, so with respect to that, we kept that news quiet until he came out of the game.
New York Times:
Reports began to circulate early in Game 1 of the World Series that Daniel Volquez, the father of Edinson Volquez, the Royals’ starting pitcher, had died during the day in the Dominican Republic. But the son was unaware of the news that so many other people had heard.
According to the Royals, Roandy Volquez, the pitcher’s wife, asked the team not to tell her husband what happened until after he had finished pitching the biggest game of his career. The team then asked the broadcasters on Fox not to announce the news because Volquez routinely goes into the clubhouse between innings, and the broadcasts of the game are usually on.
That created an awkward situation in which many people knew what had happened, but not Volquez, who was making his first start in the World Series. ESPN Deportes first reported news of Daniel Volquez’s death.
Even after the game, we still don’t know (as of now) what is true and what is not. A Sports Illustrated reporter tweeted that Royals manager Ned Yost informed the team about Volquez’s father’s death after the game, but that Volquez had already left the ballpark and even his teammates didn’t know whether he had known during the game or not.
What we do know is that somebody screwed up badly here. If Volquez didn’t know about his father’s death, ESPN ran with a bad report, and the AP backtracked from their correct report and updated it at least twice, making it less correct each time. If Volquez did know while pitching that his father died, the Royals PR director misled Fox Sports, and the New York Times lapped up that explanation and took it even further without obtaining their own independent confirmation. This is how myths are made.
Update (2:16 a.m.): Postgame, Ned Yost was unable to fully clear things up. He said that the Royals did not tell Volquez, but that he also doesn’t know when Volquez found out, though he guesses it was after the game. From Jesse Sanchez:
Q. What’s the story with Edinson’s father?
NED YOST: I don’t have any idea when he found out. You know, we found out about it before the game and the wishes of the family was, you know, let Eddie pitch. So I was kind of keeping my eye, didn’t want him to hear about it. I was keeping my eye on him. And he was fine. He didn’t know, and I guess after the game is when he found out.
Update (2:22 a.m.): ESPN has pulled the following line from their story (with no note or correction):
The pitcher heard the news while on his way to Kauffman Stadium.
Update (3:18 a.m.): AP has dramatically updated their story, writing that Volquez was “apparently” unaware of his father’s death when he took the mound, and adding (with no note or correction):
Earlier Tuesday, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press that Volquez was given the news of his father’s death on the way to the ballpark.
Also, for what it’s worth, the Times story has gotten a major facelift as well (you can view the changes here), but the basic facts of their story remain the same.
Update (11:06 a.m.): ESPN and AP both have updated morning stories. ESPN now notes that the family source that informed them of Daniel Volquez’s death also told them that Edinson was informed on the way to the game, and adds that Ned Yost gave a “contrasting” version of events. The AP notes things are unclear: that the team says they didn’t inform him, but that an AP source says he knew.
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