Major League Baseball is finally having the long-awaited Opening Day, as most teams start July 24th. Of course, no one will be at the games, as COVID-19 has restricted fans from attending in person. When the Colorado Rockies open their season against the Texas Rangers, though, there will be one fan in attendance: the dad of Rockies outfielder Sam Hilliard.
The Rockies rookie has been granted a special exemption to have his dad (and also his mom) attend the season opener, as his dad, Jim, a retired sports surgeon, is battling ALS. His family lives in Mansfield, not too far from the Rangers stadium to get a chance to see their son in his first season opener. The two teams cooperated to get the Hilliards access to the game, as both his mom and dad tested COVID-free.
Jim Hilliard, Tamara Hilliard and Kat Minnerly watch the #Rockies play against the #Rangers in an exhibition baseball gamein Arlington, Texas. The Hilliards are the parents of Rockies left fielder Sam Hilliard and Minnerly is his fiancee. (AP Photo/Richard W. Rodriguez) pic.twitter.com/JyTKVCOmOp
— Thomas Harding (@harding_at_mlb) July 22, 2020
Sam is thrilled his dad is going to get to see his first season opener.
“The conversation I had with him and my mom was just kind of, ‘Can’t believe that it’s going to happen. They’re really going to let us do this.’ It was a conversation of cries and just relief. We haven’t seen each other for a while,” he told MLB.com. “We’re all really happy to reunite.”
Rockies manager Bud Black said having Sam’s parents at the game, with all they are going through, is going to be special.
“It’s part of what makes this game great, for his family to be a part of their son coming back home and playing against the team he grew up rooting for,” he said. “We all know his dad’s situation. It’s rough. But it’s a gentle moment. It’s really cool.”
— Tracy Ringolsby (@TracyRingolsby) July 22, 2020
Rangers manager Jon Daniels said it felt like the right thing to do.
“When you’ve got a chance to help someone out, we want to do that,” he said.