In one of the last conversations they had, Mookie Betts said that Kobe Bryant reminded him that by the time the game is over to try and leave somebody happy. That stuck with Betts, and his interaction with a fan on Sunday showed what baseball is all about.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, T.J. Friedl hit the first home run of his big-league career. On top of that, it was also his first career hit as well. Aside from the entire Cincinnati Reds dugout, a handful of people in the stadium probably knew the significance of the hit. Luckily, one of the people who knew the significance was standing in right field.
“I remember yesterday on the big screen it said it was his MLB Debut,” Betts said. “He didn’t get a hit yesterday. I saw he hit a home run and I knew it was his first hit. I saw the guy who caught it.
“I just asked him for the ball, kind of sign language. He didn’t hesitate, he threw it right back.”
After Friedl hit his home run, you saw that the fan who caught it threw it back onto the field. You never see a home run ball thrown back onto the field that was hit by the home team, so you knew something had to be up.
In between innings, Betts went back out to right field and handed the fan a signed bat.
“I wasn’t really doing it for cameras or anything. I was just doing it because (the fan) immediately threw the ball back and didn’t give even ask for anything.
“Those type of interactions are everlasting. It’s another way for someone to impact someones life.”
Freidl spoke to the media following the game and was blown away by what Betts did. All he wanted to do was personally thank him.
“That’s just first-class,” he said. “It’s incredible, just for him to do something like that is definitely just world-class of him. I want to go over there and just say thank you in person, because it means so much. Just to get that ball back and for it to be my first home run. And just for him to know that and turn around to the fan, and I believe he traded a bat for it, it’s just incredible.”