In the bottom of the 8th inning of the Phillies 7-4 win over the Marlins Tuesday night, Tony Gwynn Jr. stepped into the on-deck circle for the first time since the passing of his father last week. The utility outfielder had been placed on the bereavement list by the team to mourn the loss of Gwynn Sr., one of the greatest hitters in the history of baseball.
Earlier in the afternoon my colleague, Brian Brennan of CSN Philadelphia, had the tremendous idea to ensure that Gwynn Jr. would get the proper reception to returning from what had to be one of the most difficult ordeals of the young man’s life.
I’d love to see Tony Gwynn, Jr get a standing ovation in his first at-bat after losing his dad. Make it happen, Phils fans. #gwynnstandingo
— Brian Brennan (@brian_brennan8) June 24, 2014
Sure enough, the movement gained serious momentum on Twitter over the hours leading up to the game. Though Gwynn Jr. was not in the starting lineup, the Philadelphia faithful in attendance at Tuesday’s game would get their opportunity to pay their respects to a member of their beloved Phillies. As Gwynn Jr. stepped toward the plate in the eighth, even if just for a few minutes, the City of Brotherly Love did the name justice in honor of the magnitude of the moment.
As Tom McCarthy mentions toward the end of the clip, Marlins catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia took a visit to the mound to ensure the ovation lasted as long as possible for the son of one of baseball’s titans. In what was otherwise an arbitrary night at the ballpark in Philadelphia, for at least a few minutes, there was magic in the stands and on the field that has been absent for a few years now.
After the game, reporters approached Gwynn Jr. in the clubhouse for his thoughts on the reception of the fans. His response will make you forget about Ruben Amaro Jr. and where the Phillies have fallen to and remember why you are proud to be a fan in this city.
Tip of the cap to anyone who was at the ballpark. Special, memorable moment for sure.