Father of Sandy Hook victim throws emotional first pitch before Rangers home opener

Major League Baseball has done a terrific job in honoring and remembering the victims of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting during the opening week of the season. But the highlight so far has to be the emotional moment that took place prior to the Texas Rangers' home opener against the Los Angeles Angels on Friday.

That’s where former Arlington resident and lifelong Rangers fan Robbie Parker, the father of 6-year-old Emilie Parker, one of the victims in the senseless tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, had the opportunity to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

It was a highly emotional scene, made more so by the fact Emilie’s favorite player, David Murphy, whom the family retrieved a ball from during a game at Fenway Park last season, accompanied Robbie, his wife, Alissa, and their daughters, Madeline and Samantha, to the pitcher’s mound. And waiting behind the plate to catch the pitch? None other than Rangers legend and Robbie Parker’s favorite player growing up: Ivan Rodriguez.

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With so many emotions overwhelming him, including butterflies, Parker completed the pitch, and then broke down in the arms of one of his heroes.

From the Associated Press:

"It was really tough to try to keep my emotions under control there," Parker said a few minutes later, still fighting back tears. "It was pretty amazing."

Rodriguez offered more than just a hug — two, actually.

"He said, 'I just want you to know how much I love you,' and he just said your daughter is being a great example to so many people," Parker said. "And he just pointed to the crowd and said, 'All these people are here for you and they're here because of her.'"

If that doesn’t bring a tear to your eye and a smile to your face, I don’t know what will.

Obviously it had that on affect on the players, especially the heavily involved Murphy.

"That was a very humbling experience," Murphy said. "I have three kids of my own. I can't imagine what that would be like. It definitely makes the game a little easier. We're worrying about winning and numbers. It makes you realize the insignificance of baseball."

Though I know exactly what Murphy means by his comments, I have to say moments like this are actually a great reminder of baseball's significance. Sure, the results may not matter in the grand scheme of things, but the way it brings people together and helps them heal during difficult times certain does matter. I think that's what baseball does better than any other sport, too, but I'm probably biased in saying that.

Regardless, baseball, and the wonderful people involved in putting this together, managed to put a smile on the Parker family's face and helped ensure Friday would be a positive day in their recovery. Nothing matters more than that, and I take my hat off to all of them for making it happen.

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