The Blue Jays have made headlines by hitting home runs all year, but none of those home runs was bigger or more emotional than John McDonald’s blast on Sunday.
In yet another example of how sports can help heal, McDonald homered in his first at-bat since returning to the team following his father Jack’s death. Fittingly, the home run came as the Blue Jays took on the Giants on Father’s Day.
Jack McDonald passed away earlier in the week from liver cancer, and John McDonald was away from the team for his father’s last 11 days.
He returned and was used as a defensive replacement in the ninth inning of Sunday’s game with the Giants, and hit the home run when his spot in the lineup came up in the bottom of the ninth.
Not only was it McDonald’s first home run of the season, it was only the 14th round-tripper of his career.
MLB.com reports that one of his father’s last wishes was for John to hit his next home run for Jack.
“We had talked about the type of player I am before I came back,” McDonald said, “and the fact that I don’t hit a lot of home runs. He said, ‘Hit your next one for me.’ So the fact that I got that out of the way quick was nice.”
When McDonald returned to the dugout his teammates were waiting for him, just as emotional as the infielder himself about the type of moment that only seems possible in movies.
“That’s one of the most special moments that I’ve gotten to see in this game,” Jays outfielder Vernon Wells said after the game. “It couldn’t happen to a better person. I think that was the happiest loss that any of us have encountered in our professional careers.”