Sunday's game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Cincinnati Reds turned into one that will be remembered forever by Reds rookie TJ Friedl. In only his second Major League at-bat, and his very first hit, Friedl hit his very first Major League home run in the sixth inning. But what really made it a day worth remembering was the actions of a star player on the other team that will allow Friedl a permanent keepsake from the moment.
After Friedl scored his home run, Dodgers star Mookie Betts turned to the fan that caught the ball -- Michael Diddle of Portsmouth, Ohio -- and asked for the ball back, explaining that it was Friedl's first home run and that Betts would give him another ball. Diddle agreed, and Betts tossed the ball towards the Reds dugout to allow Friedl to keep the ball.
Diddle was likewise rewarded for his gesture, as Betts later gave him a signed bat when he returned to right field the following inning.
"It's incredible," Friedl said in a report by Bobby Nightengale of The Cincinnati Enquirer. "For him 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. Thank you is all I can really say because it means so much.
"I want to find a way to say thank you to him."
Explaining his actions, Betts recalled the Saturday game between the two teams -- Friedl's first after being called up -- and hearing the video board announce that Friedl was making his debut in the big leagues. When Friedl hit his home run Sunday, Betts made his gesture based on the advice of Kobe Bryant, the late Los Angeles Lakers star.
"I think one of the last times I talked to Kobe, one time he reminded me that by the time the game is over, leave somebody (with) who you are and somebody recognizes you," Betts said. "Obviously, that's through 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."
Friedl and Betts eventually spoke over the phone following the game, which the Dodgers won 8-5.
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