After watching his postgame press conference, I think Toronto Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston speaks for us all when talking about the home run that utilityman John McDonald(notes) hit in the ninth inning of Sunday's game.
"I was so happy to see him hit that home run, I almost cried myself," Gaston said.
Indeed, it's hard not to wipe away a tear or two while watching McDonald round the bases after hitting a two-run homer off Jeremy Affeldt(notes) in a 9-6 loss to the Giants. The blast came only two days after McDonald buried his father, who had passed away from a tough battle with liver cancer earlier in the week.
That it happened on Father's Day during John's first at-bat since Jack McDonald's death only added to the emotion. John pointed toward the sky after crossing home plate.
Thanks to the understanding of the Blue Jays, McDonald was able to return home to Connecticut for the final 11 days of his father's life. The two had a very close father-and-son bond — The Star's Richard Griffin has great details about their relationship here — and the AP reports that Jack asked John to hit his next home run in his honor.
At first, that seemed easier requested than done. McDonald returned to Toronto with only 13 career homers to his name over 12 big league seasons and he hadn't hit one yet this season. There was a good chance it might not happen for a long while for the light-hitting infielder.
But then Gaston asked McDonald to serve as a defensive replacement for Aaron Hill(notes) in the ninth and McDonald decided to swing as hard as he could when he got to the plate in the bottom of the inning. The result was one of the most emotional Father's Day stories we've ever witnessed in sports as the ball just cleared the left field wall at Rogers Centre.
"I think (the homer) was for both of us," McDonald said. "The fact I got it out of the way quick was nice. I told him they're not that easy to hit."
Asked what he was thinking as he rounded the bases, McDonald was painfully honest. From MLB.com:
"Probably the fact that I couldn't call my dad after the game to tell him."
That's pretty powerful stuff from McDonald and I think it goes without saying that it's something that any of us who have ever bonded with our fathers over baseball can understand. My condolences go to the McDonald family, but I'd also like to offer my congratulations. Coming through as a hero for your hero is a very admirable thing.
Really, what an incredible moment to watch.