Joey Votto gives bat and jersey to 6-year-old cancer patient after hitting homer

Big League Stew

This seems like one of those moments that’s too awesome to be real, that could only happen in a movie. But it was completely real. It happened right there Thursday afternoon in Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park, right there before our eyes, right in front of thousands of people. And it was so great millions more people will probably see it soon.

Joey Votto, the Reds’ All-Star first baseman, was about to step to the plate in the seventh inning. He stopped briefly and pointed to Walter “SuperBubz” Herbert, a terminally ill cancer patient he met last week who was sitting near the Reds’ dugout. Then Votto got in the batter’s box and hit one over the fence.

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As he came back to the dugout, Votto stopped and high-fived Walter. Then he stopped again, reached into the stands and gave Walter his bat. And then he walked back to the tunnel behind the dugout, changed into a new jersey and gave the one he had been wearing to Walter.

Joey Votto handing his bat to 6-year-old cancer patient Walter “SuperBubz” Herbert. (
Joey Votto handing his bat to 6-year-old cancer patient Walter “SuperBubz” Herbert. (

What an unforgettable few minutes that was. From watching Joey Votto hit to holding Joey Votto’s bat and wearing his jersey. It’s enough to make young Walter forget about his grim reality for a few minutes. As C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer explains:

The younger Herbert is suffering from Stage 4 neuroblastoma, one of the most common types of pediatric cancer. When the cancer spread throughout his body, the family decided to enjoy their final time together.

Last week Herbert served as the team’s honorary captain for a game against the Pirates. That’s when he met Votto for the first time and received an autographed bat. Wally Herbert thought Votto may say hello as the family sat in the first row of the Diamond Club near the Reds’ on-deck circle. He did more than that.

“Knowing how focused Joey Votto is down here, him to come talk to him was neat,” Wally Herbert said. “The neatest thing to me was Joey Votto hits a home run and points back at him. Then gives him a high-five afterwards. That takes a lot for a professional ballplayer, especially one the caliber Joey is, the memorabilia stuff is always going to be something we keep on display.”

This was Walter after the game, captured again by Rosecrans, the intrepid Reds’ beat writer:

Votto, for as nice of a gesture as this was, didn’t pat himself on the back afterward. In the clubhouse after the game, he didn’t want to talk about it. He simply told reporters he’d rather keep it as a personal moment between himself and the Herbert family.

Well, we all saw it. And more people will see it in the days to come, as it gets replayed on highlight shows and on morning news programs. It’s the type of heart-warming sports moment that people can’t help but fall in love with.

So Votto didn’t need to say a word after the game. This is one of those moments where actions speak louder than words. And this spoke volumes about Joey Votto.

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Mike Oz is the editor of Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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