Tony Gywnn Jr. will likely never forget Tuesday night’s plate appearance in Philadelphia.
It was Gwynn’s first at-bat since his father, Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, died of salivary gland cancer on June 16. Gwynn Jr. had just returned from the Phillies’ bereavement list on Tuesday.
When manager Ryne Sandberg called on Gwynn to pinch hit in the eighth inning of a 7-4 victory over visiting Miami, it didn’t matter that the left-handed hitter had been struggling in his first season in Philadelphia. The fans at Citizens Bank Park showed their support and love.
The cheers started when Gwynn walked to the batter’s box, grew louder when he was introduced as a pinch hitter and turned into a standing ovation when Marlins catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia went to the mound — to give Gwynn some more time before stepping to the plate.
"Needless to say, it was pretty awesome," Gwynn said after the game, according to 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."
Gwynn took two pitches outside of the strike zone from Miami pitcher A.J. Ramos before grounding out to first.
“It was really hard. Really hard,” Gwynn told MLB.com of focusing on the at-bat. “I was fortunate 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."