Friday, June 27, 2014


Nearly ten days after his father’s death, Tony Gwynn Jr. returned to the Philadelphia Phillies lineup Tuesday night and received a standing ovation from the crowd at Citizens Bank Park.

Gwynn Jr.—who entered the game as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the eighth—held back tears as fans showed their love and respect for his family and father, Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, who died from cancer on June 16. It was Gwynn Jr.’s first at-bat since June 13.

The heartwarming moment was punctuated by the thoughtfulness of Marlins catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who walked to the pitcher’s mound to give Tony Jr. time alone at the plate to gather his emotions.

In his post game interview, Gwynn Jr. expressed his love for baseball fans for showing support for his family. “It was really hard,” Gwynn Jr. told reporters. “Really hard. I was fortunate enough to get two balls to regroup a little bit, but I’ve never been through anything like that before. Under these circumstances, it was even tougher, but like I said it was much appreciated.”

The standing O was one of those stirring moments that reminds you why baseball is so special. Tony Gwynn was not only an exceptional hitter, but was also an exceptional person who loved the game and his fans. And in this difficult time, baseball fans are returning the love for him and his family.

--Alexis Garcia, BYB's "Eye on MLB" Columnist
Twitter:  @heylexyg

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