Touching moment Reds fan, Dodgers' Mookie Betts save rookie's HR ball

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Cincinnati Reds rookie TJ Friedl got his first Major League hit on Sunday by homering in his second ever at-bat, and the 26-year-old outfielder got to keep the ball as a memento thanks to the kindness of one fan and the quick thinking of Los Angeles Dodgers star Mookie Betts.

Appearing in just his second game ever on Sunday in Cincinnati, Friedl was called in to pinch hit in the sixth inning against the Dodgers’ Tony Gonsolin. The Pennsylvania native quickly capitalized on his opportunity by hitting a first-pitch fastball 385 feet into the right field bleachers, where it was caught by a man later identified as Portsmouth, Ohio’s Michael Diddle.

Realizing the significance of the situation, Betts immediately called for Diddle to throw the ball back in play so he could return it to the Reds dugout for safekeeping.

Bigger than baseball.

Respect, @mookiebetts. 👏 pic.twitter.com/3q34zdzJxE

— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) September 19, 2021

189700913 Appearing in just his second game ever on Sunday in Cincinnati, Friedl was called in to pinch hit in the sixth inning against the Dodgers’ Tony Gonsolin. The Pennsylvania native quickly capitalized on his opportunity by hitting a first-pitch fastball 385 feet into the right field bleachers, where it was caught by a man later identified as Portsmouth, Ohio’s Michael Diddle Betts is seen giving Diddle an autographed bat for rookie TJ Friedl’s first home run ball Mookie Betts (

To his credit, the fan obliged without hesitation, and did so without making any subsequent demands for the souvenir.

‘I just asked him for the ball,’ Betts said after the Dodgers’ 8-5 win, as quoted by The Cincinnati Enquirer. ‘It was kind of sign language. I said ”I’ll throw you another ball, but that’s his first home run, can you throw it back?”

‘He didn’t hesitate. He threw it right back. I think at that point, I was going to throw him a ball, but I thought about getting him a bat instead, maybe has something to be remembered a little more.’

When Betts returned to right field in the bottom of the seventh, he came bearing the gift of an autographed bat, which he then gave to an appreciative Diddle.

Friedl, understandably, was even more appreciative.

‘It’s incredible,’ Friedl said. ‘For [Betts] to do something like that, it’s definitely just world class out of him. I want to go over there [to the Dodgers clubhouse] and just say ‘thank you’ in person.’

Friedl said the ball is currently encased in glass in his locker.  

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2nd MLB at-bat.

1st MLB hit.

1st MLB homer.

Congrats, @TjFriedl1❗️ pic.twitter.com/tZCAqQt3zC

— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) September 19, 2021

Reds manager David Bell also credited Betts for the gesture.

‘I don’t know Mookie, but man, it just says so much about him as a person, as a player,’ Bell said. ‘It confirms basically everything I’ve ever heard about him. To think that selflessly or to think outside yourself that much in the heat of the game and to be that thoughtful, it’s amazing.

‘Even though we lost the game and all the disappointment and frustration, both of those moments kind of remind you the other thing that this is all about. That was just so classy.’

Betts credited his kindness to the late Kobe Bryant by remembering an exchange he had with the Lakers legend.

‘Those type of interactions are kind of everlasting,’ Betts told USA Today. ‘I think one of the last times I talked to Kobe he reminded me that by the time the game is over, somebody knows who you are and somebody recognizes you. Obviously, that’s through our play, but that’s another way to impact someone’s life. I wasn’t really doing it for cameras or anything. I was just doing it because he immediately threw the ball back. He didn’t even ask or anything.’

A two-time World Series winner who was named American League MVP with the Boston Red Sox in 2018, Betts has developed a reputation for kindness over his eight Major League seasons.

For instance, after beating the Dodgers in Game 2 of the 2018 World Series, Betts was secretly recorded giving food to homeless people gathered around Boston’s public library. In 2015, he and then-teammate Blake Swihart were seen giving pizza to a homeless man in New York as well. 

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