June 17, 2011
Ever since Babe Ruth promised to hit a home run for a sick child back in 1926, such inspirational pacts have become the stuff of baseball lore. Those stories become legends when the players are able to follow through on their promises.
A guy like Babe Ruth was supposed to swat homers, though. A guy like Willie Bloomquist(notes)? Considering he entered Wednesday's games with only 14 career homers over 10 years, he was located on the opposite end of the expectation spectrum. An ill child might have had a better shot at asking Bloomquist to fly him around on a unicorn.
But because baseball is a great game filled with funny and unexplainable moments, Bloomquist was able to reach legendary status with Abe Speck on Wednesday night, hitting a homer after the 11-year-old issued a request for one.
What a great story. During every Arizona Diamondbacks home stand, the ex-Arizona State ballplayer invites a patient from Phoenix Children's Hospital to attend a game at Chase Field. He shows the guests the D-Backs' clubhouse and brings them to the field during batting practice.
Speck and his friend Max Siegel also got a signed bat from the D-Backs. But after seeing Bloomquist blast several batting practice balls into the stands, he had the confidence to ask for just a little bit more.
"This kid he goes, 'If you hit a home run, will you point to me?'" Bloomquist said. "I go, 'Buddy, I don't hit a lot of home runs, that's wishful thinking.' He goes, 'No, you're going to hit a home run tonight, and if you do, will you point to me?'"
While Bloomquist doubted that he'd hit one, he made Speck look prescient in the third inning. On a 2-0 pitch from Madison Bumgarner(notes) of the San Francisco Giants, he smacked a ball just over the left-field fence for a game-tying home run.
As promised, Bloomquist pointed up to Speck in Section 129 as he jogged back to the dugout. The power of the moment obviously wasn't lost on him.
"I hit that and I'm like, 'There is no way that just happened,'" Bloomquist said. "I'm almost tearing up, going, 'This is incredible.' That came from another power. That wasn't me that hit that ball. That came from somewhere else. That made that little boy's night."
Bloomquist may have needed a little pick-me-up himself after being involved in a serious traffic accident on Tuesday that resulted in a rear-end collision and wrecked his car. An air bag prevented more serious injuries from occurring, and Bloomquist was able to start in left field on Wednesday. But no one in Chase Field was happier than Abe Speck, who has suffered from intestinal issues since he was 2 years old but will happily celebrate his 12th birthday next month.
"It was like five birthday presents," Speck told FOX Sports Arizona of the homer.