Tony Gwynn Jr. returned to the Philadelphia Phillies with a heavy heart on Tuesday night. The 31-year-old came on in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter in what was his first at-bat since he left the team to mourn the death of his father. He received a warm reception.
The Phillies fans who were still in attendance with their team leading 7-4 gave Gwynn Jr. a standing ovation. He took a few extra seconds and a big deep breath before stepping into the box.
“Needless to say, it was pretty awesome,” Gwynn said after the game, via Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. “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.”
The Phillies are 35-41 and currently in last place in the NL East. Some moments are far more important than the game itself.