Last night, when I was watching the Phillies/Marlins game on my TV in my living room, I got to watch as something pretty special happened. As Tony Gwynn Jr. stepped up to the plate to pinch hit in the eighth inning, his first plate appearance since the death of his father, Hall of Fame Padres player, Tony Gwynn, every single fan in attendance at Citizens Bank Park got up and gave Gwynn a standing ovation.
The emotion of the moment was so palpable, so real, so electric that I could almost feel it pulsing through my television. Gwynn, who was asked about the at-bat after the game, said that while the at-bat itself was difficult he was incredibly grateful for the thoughtfulness and support shown by all the fans at the ballpark.
“Needless to say, it was pretty awesome,” Gwynn said to MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki. “Made the at-bat a little more difficult, had to fight the emotion and the tears and stuff like that. But that’s why guys who play here like to play here. When things are going well or regardless of whether they’re going bad or good, I think the fans stay behind us. Much appreciated by the Gwynn family.”
Gwynn and his family have been overwhelmed by the support and care shown by people in the past week since his father’s passing, whether it’s from players, coaches, or fans. When asked about how it made him feel, an obviously emotional Gwynn was almost at a loss for words.
“I don’t even know if I could come up with a word to describe it,” he said. “Obviously, at home, in San Diego, it was just a reminder of my teammates. … I don’t think there was a guy I didn’t get a text from.”
Whether it’s a text from a teammate or a crowd of 30,000 plus fans cheering you on, one thing is for sure: Gwynn has truly appreciated every little bit of love and compassion that has been expressed towards him and his family since his father’s death.
Gwynn took to Twitter this morning to thank Phillies fans. And as one of those Philadelphia fans, I want to say that, on behalf of us all, it was a pleasure to cheer you on last night, Tony, and it was an absolute privilege to watch your father play.
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Photo via MLB.com