The entire year of 2020 has been a weird one for everybody, and the MLB season is no exception. The seats are filled with cardboard cutouts instead of fans, teammate camaraderie is limited by safety protocols, and many players have had less contact with their families than ever before.
The A’s have done an admirable job adding light-hearted fun and positive vibes to the proceedings, helping them be the kind of uplifting entertainment that we all desperately need right now amid the coronavirus pandemic, a bitterly divided nation, and now extreme wildfires around the state. They’ve kept fans involved as much as possible, most notably by being among the trend-setters in launching a cardboard cutout program. When a giant stuffed teddy bear in the stands got beaned by a foul ball last week, they turned it into a silly story that might have made your day.
The team outdid themselves last weekend. At the beginning of Saturday’s game against the Los Angeles Angels at the Coliseum, the player introductions were not given by interim public-address announcer Amelia Schimmel, but rather by the players’ own family members. Even better, the players didn’t know it was coming, making it a true surprise and eliciting some genuinely wonderful reactions.
Here’s the full video for the starting lineup.
That’s Marcus Semien’s two sons; Ramon Laureano’s parents; Matt Olson’s big brother; Matt Chapman’s parents; Mark Canha’s wife and daughter; Stephen Piscotty’s wife and cat; Tony Kemp’s wife, dog, and nephew; Austin Allen’s nephew; and Chris Bassitt’s wife, daughter, and dog. (But nobody for Robbie Grossman?)
The smiles on each players’ faces are priceless, and it’s nearly impossible not to join in amid the heartwarming episode.
While the entire thing is beautiful, I must say Kemp’s nephew steals the show. The player had already been introduced by his wife, and then suddenly there was there was his young nephew with awesome in-your-face enthusiasm for Uncle Tony Kemp. The second baseman was already smiling at his initial intro, but jumped to his feet for the sequel.
One of my old co-workers and friends had the same reaction I did:
Nephew Kemp got me runnin through a wall!— Johnny Volk (@JohnnyVolk) August 22, 2020
Manager Bob Melvin loved the gesture, via John Hickey of Sports Illustrated:
“I think it was great, and I think everybody really appreciated that,” [Melvin] said. “It kind of took us by surprise early on.
“The next thing you know, you’re fixated on it, because we’ve got a lot of guys who aren’t seeing their families (in person) this year. It was really special for the guys who have kids. It was really a cool moment that was well done.”
Props to team president Dave Kaval and the A’s top-notch social media team for all the work they’ve done to make this 2020 as great as possible, with every conceivable obstacle in their way. The effort is appreciated and we can’t wait to see what’s in store next!