How Kobe Bryant Inspired Mookie Betts’ Special Moment With Reds Fan

Reds outfielder TJ Freidl called Betts' gesture 'first class'


September 20, 2021

You probably have watched the well-traveled video of Mookie Betts’ first-class gesture on social media.

Betts tracked down the first-ever home run ball hit by Cincinnati Reds outfielder TJ Friedl on Sunday. He asked the fan who caught it in right field — ironically Friedl’s first-ever hit — to throw it back given the significance, and after the fan quickly obliged, the Los Angeles Dodgers star gifted him an autographed bat upon returning to the outfield.

It was a unique and special moment in which all parties involved won.

Betts was asked about the moment following the Dodgers’ 8-5 win over the Reds. He shared how a lesson from NBA legend and Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant was running through his mind when it took place.

“I was going to throw him a ball, but I just thought about the bat instead. It’s something he can remember forever,” Betts said, according to

“Those type of interactions are kind of everlasting. I think one of the last times I talked to Kobe (Bryant), he reminded me that by the time the game’s over and you leave, somebody knows who you are, somebody recognizes you. It’s just another way for somebody to impact somebody’s life,” Betts continued. “I wasn’t really doing it for the cameras. I was doing it because he immediately threw the ball back and didn’t even ask.”

Friedl was just as appreciative of Betts’ actions, calling the quick-thinking “incredible.”

Betts clearly earned himself at least two new fans — one in the stands and the other across the diamond.

Thumbnail photo via David Kohl/USA TODAY Sports Images
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