When 8-year-old Owen Hoag stepped to the plate in his Little League game he had the weight of the world on his shoulders. The day before, his dad and the team’s head coach had passed away. Hoag decided he wanted to play in his dad’s honor, and at the plate, he smashed a home run and the place went absolutely bananas.
It’s the type of highlight that sports are all about. Owen’s dad Jeff had been coaching the team because it was one of the few normal things he could continue to do after he had stopped working due to cancer treatments. He wanted to stay connected to his son, so he stepped up as the head coach.
Owen told another one of the coaches he wanted to play the next game. The coach asked if he wanted to pitch, and Owen said he wanted the ball. The assistant coach told a local media outlet he started to get nervous after Owen walked the first two batters he faced. Then, he struck out three in a row to start a dominant outing on the mound.
At the plate in the bottom of the inning, he had the biggest hit of his life. And as he’s rounding the bases, you can hear what sounds like every voice at the field cheering him on as he hustles for the inside-the-park home run (he’s 8, he’s not gonna blast it 450 feet out).
As he got to the plate, he was mobbed by his teammates and coaches.
“You could just feel Jeff’s presence, it’s hard to explain,” assistant coach Clint Bleier said. “It was there.”
Losing your dad at such a young age is brutal, tragic, and heartbreaking. But to be able to step up and honor your dad in that way is something he and his family will never forget.