August 9, 2013

The Man Who Sold The World

The Royals have been on an unprecedented tear ever since the All-Star break. While it's still a long shot for them to make the playoffs, they at least have a shot. That's not something that could be said this late in the season over the last couple of decades. Another good week or two and they could move from a team with an outside chance to a team right in the thick of it.

This is fun, isn't it?

One Royal who is eternally grateful for the team's winning ways (and has been a major contributor this season) is none other than rookie sensation David Lough. Lough has been hot since spring training, and the trade of Jeff Francoeur opened up a spot for him to be an everyday player. While Lough's career stats don't point to him maintaining his current level of play or breaking out further, he's been a great surprise and is primed to be a part of a major league roster for years to come.

That's good news for the Royals and Lough, but even better news for Lough's family. David's parents Donald and Debra Lough have always supported their son's dream of playing sports. As a boy in Akron, Ohio, he played soccer, basketball, and baseball, then picked up football in high school. He got a full-ride scholarship to Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pennsylvania, and he was big man on campus. Lough played centerfield for the baseball team, kicker, punter, and wide receiver for the football team, and guard for the basketball team.

However, while Lough was pursuing athletics with the full backing of his family, there was another passion that his loved ones weren't as excited about.

Royales with Cheese managed to gather the entire Lough family and a few friends to discuss the path almost, but not, taken.

"It was cute at first," his mother Debra says, "but by the time he was fifteen, we were getting worried."

"I knew he wasn't gay," his father Donald says. "I mean, there's nothing wrong with being gay. Just, I knew he wasn't gay. Can we not talk about this? He's not doing it anymore."

What activity frightened them so much? David Lough was a disciple of the Thin White Duke, English musician David Bowie. Not only was he a fan, Lough actually started performing around town at local coffee shops and open-mic nights as the tribute act David Loughie.

"Akron has such a great tradition of music," says David's sister Delia. "Chrissie Hynde is from here, you know. The Black Keys, too. Um... I think one of the guys from Judas Priest, maybe? Anyway, if you're from Akron, you have to love music. And the smell of rubber. We're the rubber capital of the world, you know. Rubber and Rock 'n Roll. Um... so yeah, David liked to dress up and sing. Big deal."

David's brother Dirk disagrees: "He strutted around wearing ladies pants singing 'Changes' to anyone who would listen. And all that make-up! It was just embarrassing. If he hadn't been so good at sports, he would have totally gotten his ass kicked all the time."

"I liked the music just fine," Debra says. "I was actually a huge Bowie fan. But I thought if he was going to do music, he should write it himself. Stop doing Bowie's songs and dressing up like him. Nobody likes tribute bands," she says. "Nobody."

"He did get ten letters while playing here," says soccer coach Bob Gilmore of Green High School. "But the thing most people will remember Lough for is the Sophomore Talent Show when he covered 'Space Oddity.' That brought the house down."

"I thought college would straighten him out," Donald says. "I mean, not straighten. Again, I wasn't worried he was gay. I don't think glam rock or David Bowie is gay. They're not. And it doesn't matter, even if they are. What I'm saying is I wanted David to drop the music and focus on sports."

At Mercyhurst, David Loughie got booked into some bigger venues and there was even a fan club on campus. However,  by the time he was a senior, he found his popularity as a musician beginning to wain. A hockey player at the college named Jacques Roquefort had started up a competing act with his Marc Bolan tribute band The T. Rexperience.

"Yeah," David recalls. "Rexperience pretty much killed Loughie. I guess there wasn't room for more than one glam rock tribute act in Erie."

"I always told David we could team up," Jacques Roquefort says. "I mean, to be able to draw from Bowie and Bolan's catalogues? It would have been a glam rock explosion! We could have owned that town! But David told me he'd just got drafted and was leaving the act behind."

"At the end of the day, do I ever wonder if I made the wrong decision?" David asks, then smiles.

"No, son," Donald Lough says. "Hell no. You're a baseball star."

"Yeah," David says. "But I could've been Starman."

There's an uncomfortable silence.

"Hey," Jacques Roquefort pipes in, "I'm still in Erie if anyone's ever in town and want to see some good T. Rex covers."

"I don't think we'll be doing that anytime soon," Dirk Lough says, and everyone laughs but David.

He's still sitting there, just smiling to himself.

"Golden years," he mumbles. "Gold, whop whop whop." 

Go David Loughie! Put On Your Red Shoes and Dance!

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