From Martin Rogers
FOX sports columnist
The playing field came with a sidearm – and no one recorded it on the speed gun. It was the slightest bit deep and gone. But it was perfect.
It was the first pitch of the first game on the San Francisco Giants’ home roster, but there won’t be a better, more miraculous, and more valued performance at Oracle Park all season long.
The man who tossed it, Bryan Stow, told me this week that the accuracy of his pitch “could have been better”. In truth, as with many things in Stow’s life, things could have been much worse.
Ten years have passed since Lifelong Giants Stow received a horrific attack from two Los Angeles Dodgers fans in the parking lot at Dodger Stadium. The beating put him in a coma, left the then 42-year-old fight for his life and shocked baseball.
Back then, it was unthinkable that he would ever have a moment like April 9 when he stood in front of the hill before the Giants took on the Colorado Rockies, holding up the ball to cheer the restricted crowd of 7,390 and sending it off towards Alyssa Nakken, who became the first full-time coach of Major League Baseball in 2020.
“It was a great, great time,” said Stow with a huge grin. “The Giants players all waved to me. It was amazing.”
Earlier this year, when members of the Giants workforce decided that resilience would be their cultural theme for the season, Stow’s name was immediately the perfect choice for the opening day ceremonial throw.
“Nobody is more resilient than Bryan,” said his mother Ann Stow. “Things are still very difficult. But he has done an amazing job over the last few years. He has made great strides in what he can and can’t do, although other people notice it more than we do because we do it every day see.” . “
I’ve known the Stow family for almost seven years since I wrote a feature on Bryan in 2014. Back then, he wanted the Giants to win the World Series that season, which they would eventually do. It was the team’s third triumph in five years, but he couldn’t remember the previous two because of the extent of his brain injuries.
“I know they won,” he said then. “But I don’t really remember it. I want it to happen again.” Thanks in large part to Madison Bumgarner’s epic short-term performance in Game 7, he did.
Getting to know the Stows means making friends with them. They are warm and welcoming and infallibly friendly, and Bryan’s infectious sense of humor lingers, despite the life-changing card he received on that fateful evening a decade ago. Bryan still lives with Ann and his father Dave in their home in Capitola, California, where they have looked after and supported him ever since.
There is still a long way to go after the severe physical and cognitive damage he has suffered, but things have turned out well and further improvements are hoped for.
When he knocked out first place, Stow used a walker, but he usually doesn’t need one anymore and moves steadily with crutches or a stick.
“The walker was mostly such that he had something to support his left side when he made the throw,” said Ann Stow. “He’s fine.”
Such things are relative, of course. Stow spent months in the hospital after the attack and was mostly in a wheelchair for several years. Now he gets into bed and makes short trips on site – his mother takes him to the shopping center or the picturesque Capitola Village, where everyone knows him.
He looks forward to resuming his weekly visits to the cinema, where action and horror are his favorite genres. He speaks with pride of his 22-year-old son, a personal trainer who is about to get married. He often visits a friend nearby to hang out and talk – and watch baseball. Does he still love baseball? “Duh,” smiled Stow.
There are many ways to tell your story. You can get the news and see the legalities and punishments of the perpetrators, as well as the lawsuit filed against the Dodgers. For me it will always be a human story about a man whose life has been irreparably changed but who continues to strive to get the most out of each day.
Stow makes great company always ready to talk about sports, movies, family, or yes you guessed it, baseball. Especially baseball. Always baseball.
The Giants organization looks very different these days, with a vastly different roster and front office than 2011. But Stow remains a valued and welcomed friend of the franchise, and CEO Larry Baer recently promised the team would make it in of the World Series, Stow will be back and knock out another first place.
With the team selected to finish behind the highest spending Dodgers and San Diego Padres in the National League West, such an outcome is unlikely (FOX Bet lists the Giants as the 26th favorites to win it all by +12,000 ).
But hey, when they went into Thursday’s games they were 8-4. And when the squad needed to be reminded on the opening day that anything is possible, they just had to look out for first place.
Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and author of the FOX Sports Insider Newsletter. Here you can subscribe to the newsletter.
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