Major League pitcher Chris Dwyer's hometown Swampscott friends are among his biggest fans.
Matt O'Brien and Chris Nemeskal and Sean O'Brien say the left-handed KC Royals pitcher remembers where he came from and sets an example for where hard work leads.
"He's always been the real deal since we were young," said Matt O'Brien. "It was inevitable that he would be where he is today. He's a hard worker, unbelievable baseball pitcher, but more important, just an amazing and loyal friend to all of us."
Matt, Chris and Andrew Glaab have been following each step in Chris' climb up the baseball ladder since their days playing Little League ball.
Chris' ladder climb started in Little League, extended to high school and college and the minor leagues, and now has him embarking on a career at the top of the baseball world.
On Saturday, Chrs Dwyer pitched his latest inning of scoreless relief for the Royals against the Chicago White Sox.
Earlier in the week he sparkled in his first ever MLB appearance, entering the game in relief to pitch out of a no-out, runners-on-second-and-third jam by striking out two and popping up a batter.
And earlier this month, before the call-up to the parent club, Chris tossed a gem in the Triple-A championship game in Allentown, PA, earning him MVP honors.
Swampscott friends were there to see it, feeling proud for his success.
They cheered him from the stands and congratulated him after the game, the old gang standing together on the field for a photo.
"I'm glad to see that all his hard work paid off and he is able to play the beautiful game of baseball for a living," said Chris Nemaskal. "God bless him he deserves it!!"
Sean O'Brien, Matt's younger brother, was too young to play on the same teams as Chris and his Swampscott friends.
But, Sean, who pitched for Swampscott High in 2012, said his brother and circle of friends including Chris were role models for him.
Chris' perseverance stands as an example for kids growing up in town now, says Sean.
"As a native of Swampscott it should show kids that it could very well be them one day,' said Sean.
Matt O'Brien, who works in the shipping industry in the Port of New York, said that when he was a kid, he and friends would go to Chris' house in central Swampscott after school to play catch in front of the house.
Only Chris' great aunts wouldn't let them go out and play until they finished their homework.
Years later when baseball took Chris far away during the summer, he would return home in winter and the friends would get together.
"It would be like we never left, and we (were) still little kids hanging out with no care for anything," said Matt.
The loyal Royal remains true to his friends and sets an example for youth baseball players, says Jack Beermann, president of Swampscott Nahant Babe Ruth Baseball.
"He is not only a great baseball player, he also has a great reputation as a person," said Jack. "Even before he pitched in the majors, I held him up to our kids as an example to emulate—now it will be even more so."