Fans often draw inspiration from the big leaguers they pay to see on the baseball field, but the roles were reversed at a Cleveland Indians game on Wednesday. Indians right fielder Franmil Reyes heard that a woman undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer, Jessica Atwood, was attending the game.
He decided to make it a memorable night for her.
Just before heading to the plate in the seventh inning, Reyes acknowledged Atwood and her husband by tossing them a ball.
"He tosses this ball to my husband and my husband is, 'okay, thanks,' and he kind of stops," Atwood told WKYC Studios. "He's standing there for a second and my husband looks down at the ball. I just see tears in his eyes, he hands it over to me and I just start crying. I've never cried at a baseball game before."
Then Reyes made her night even better during the at-bat.
"I was like, 'this is not enough, this baseball is not enough,'" Reyes told Bally Sports Great Lakes. "So, when I was on deck, I said 'please God, I know it's been tough these couple days at the plate.' I didn't ask for a homer, but this at-bat I wanted to do something special for Jessica."
And something special he did. Reyes smacked a 451-foot home run off of Rangers pitcher Wes Benjamin to extend the Indians' lead to four. As Reyes made his way around the bases, he locked eyes with the woman who inspired the home run.
"He rounds third and just finds my eye, points right to me," Atwood said.
"...when I threw you the ball, I came up to bat and said 'Please, God, let me hit this for Jessica.'"— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) August 26, 2021
Before Franmil's last at bat of the night, where he hit a home run, he threw a ball up to a woman sitting behind the dugout.
Jessica has cancer and is almost done with chemo. pic.twitter.com/ukOgsl83Zb
Reyes and the Atwood family met on the field after the game to exchange pictures, baseballs, gloves and a bat. But the biggest gift of all for Atwood was knowing someone supported her through her battle with a disease that kills 40,000 annually.
"It's kind of nice to be reminded that there are people who are like, you've got this," Atwood said. "Sometimes, you do really need to feed off that extra energy."
The Indians won the game, 7-2.