In his 4-year career in the big leagues, former Cardinals outfielder Stephen Piscotty has hit 41 home runs. None have been bigger or more important than the one he hit Tuesday night in Boston.
Piscotty's mother died on May 6, losing a year-long battle with ALS. He took a week off from baseball to be with family and attend his mother’s funeral this past week. He rejoined the team Tuesday night in Boston.
In his first at-bat after his mother’s funeral, Piscotty stepped back into the spotlight and baseball found a way to move us once again.
The Cardinals drafted Piscotty 36th overall in the 2012 MLB Draft. He made his Cardinals’ debut in July of 2015 in 8-5 win over the Chicago White Sox. Piscotty was able to play in 63 games down the stretch helping power the Redbirds to a 100-win season. Piscotty finished 6th in Rookie of the Year voting that year.
During Piscotty’s first and only postseason with the Cardinals, he batted .375 hitting three home runs in a four-game series loss to the rival Cubs. The future was bright for the 24 year old.
Fast-forward two years. In May of 2017, Piscotty’s mother Gretchen was diagnosed with ALS. The disease, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a degenerative condition that attacks the body’s nerves and muscles. Sufferers gradually lose control of their motor functions, making day-to-day life harder to manage. The average lifespan of a patient diagnosed with ALS is less than five years. Gretchen lasted less than a year.
Carrying the weight of his mother's diagnosis, Piscotty managed to play in 107 games during the 2017 season. Somehow, with his mind and heart 2,000 miles away, he was able to spend endless hours engaged in a game while his mother's time grew shorter by the day. His job was in St. Louis. His heart was in Pleasanton, California with his mother.
When the 2017 season ended, the Cardinals- having signed Piscotty to a six-year, $35 million contract- traded Piscotty to the Oakland Athletics. Soon, fans realized what the Cardinals had done for their young prospect; they sent him home to Pleasanton, California. They sent him to his mother.
With Pleasanton just up the road from Oakland, Piscotty could continue to play ball while only being a few minutes from his family home. Those heartbreaking final months with Gretchen were captured by an ESPN documentary crew, and caught the attention of baseball fans across the nation.
Gretchen died a week before Mother’s Day. She was 55 years old.
Piscotty took a week off from baseball before returning the A's Tuesday night in Boston. When he did, the moment was tremendous. The result was incredible.
Piscotty rounded the bases arriving at home plate holding his heart, looking up to the sky.
"The hand over my heart, that’s something my mom would do when she wasn’t able to speak,” he said after the game. “It was just, ‘I love you and thank you.’ That’s what I did in the box and that’s kind of her way of saying it. I’m going to keep that with me.”
Sometimes baseball is a game. Sometimes, it's more than that.
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