A brief moment in time

Published 7:45 am Thursday, June 24, 2010

What I love most about sports is that it provides an opportunity for mere men (and women) to become at times larger than life, almost epic.

The story of John McDonald’s single at bat this past weekend is the perfect example of what I mean.

McDonald has spent 12 years in the major leagues, first in Cleveland and now with the Blue Jays, but has thus far escaped the stardom that surrounds many professional athletes.

Much of that can be attributed with the fact that McDonald isn’t the kind of guy that makes many Sports Center’s Top Ten Plays or fan’s fantasy teams.

Let’s be honest… they say chicks dig the longball and in McDonald’s 12 seasons leading up to Sunday’s game against the Giants he had 13 career homers.

While much appreciated by his teammates and respected by many around the league, 13 homers isn’t going to sell a lot of jerseys.

Not that any of that stuff is important to McDonald anyway, certainly not last Sunday. You see Sunday was Father’s Day and John had buried his just two days before. By all accounts he and his father were close and John had taken a leave from the team to spend his fathers last days with him.

At some point before McDonald’s father lost his battle to liver cancer, he apparently asked his son to hit his next homer in honor of him. A tall task for any player, but a mighty one for a guy who averages just over one per year.

Sunday was John’s first game back with the team and most people didn’t think he would see the field.

However as the Giant’s lead grew, McDonald was sent in as defensive replacement and took his first at bat in the ninth inning with his team down multiple runs.

While the infielder may have made a career out of being efficient and consistent at the plate he chose on this day to swing for the fences.

In a moment that was too good to be fiction, McDonald made contact with the pitch and sent the ball sailing over the left field wall for a two-run homer.

The homerun was a single hit, a brief moment in time. Compared to a 12 year career it is hardly the blink of an eye, but on that day, on Fathers day, it was epic.

I’m not sure if it will provide closure for John McDonald or if the hit provided him any relief at all.

I do know that for me and others I have talked to about McDonalds story it provided for all goose bumps and, for many, tears. It is a heroic story and yet another reminder of what the human body and spirit are capable of.

I, for one, loved it and thought it too good not to share.

David Friedman is a long-time contributor to the Roanoke-Chowan News Herald. A Bertie High School graduate, he and his wife currently reside in Wilmington. David can be reached via e-mail at dave@gate811.net.