Cincinnati Reds rookie TJ Friedl had a day to remember during Sunday’s series finale against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Friedl, who made his debut on Saturday but went 0-for-1, picked up his first career hit on a pinch-hit home run during the sixth inning of the Dodgers’ 8-5 victory in the rubber match.
While most players need to work out a trade after the game to get the ball back from their first career home run, Friedl didn’t need to worry about it because Mookie Betts was already taking care of it.
Betts knew it was the first hit of Friedl’s career and saw the fan who caught it, so he asked him to throw the ball back to him. The fan threw it back in and Betts brought him a signed bat in the next inning.
Friedl learned about it from one of the clubhouse attendant and then saw Betts running the bat to the fan, which created a special memory for the Reds’ rookie, via Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:
“I came in that next half inning to the dugout,” Friedl said. “One of the clubhouse guys here told me, ‘Hey, we got the ball back in. You can thank Mookie. He saw the fan who caught it, turned around and offered a bat for the ball.’ That’s when I turned around and saw Mookie running with a bat to the outfield and it was just chills, honestly.”
Friedl now has a moment he will always remember topped off by Betts’ gesture to make the moment even more chilling for him.
Betts recalled advice from Kobe for Friedl’s moment
Betts was originally going to give the fan a replacement ball, but decided to give him the bat because of advice that was shared to him by Kobe Bryant.
“Those type of interactions are kind of everlasting. I think one of the last times I talked to Kobe, he just reminded me that by the time the game is over, somebody knows who you are and somebody recognizes you,” he said.
“Obviously that’s through our play, but it’s another way for somebody to impact someone’s life. I wasn’t really doing it for cameras. I was just doing it because he easily threw the ball back and didn’t even ask for anything.”
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