By Peter Abraham, Globe staff
Providence College graduate John McDonald, a Blue Jays infielder who now lives in Scituate, lost his father to cancer last week. Before Jack McDonald died, he told his son to hit his next home run for him when he went back to the team.
McDonald, who had only 13 homers in his 12-year career, told his father that he would try, but it wasn't that easy.
McDonald rejoined the Blue Jays from an 11-day bereavement leave on Saturday and played in his first game on Sunday — Father's Day.
Cito Gaston put him in the game in the ninth inning with Toronto down 9-3 and you can guess what happened next. Yes, McDonald belted a home run and was fighting back tears as he circled the bases. He returned to the dugout and was swarmed by his teammates.
"We cried on each others' shoulder for a good 30 seconds," teammate Vernon Wells told reporters in Toronto. "When it went out, it was instant goosebumps. It kind of puts everything in perspective on whether you had a good day or a bad day at the plate or in the field. Wins and losses don't really matter at that point.
"That's one of the most special moments that I've gotten to see in this game. It couldn't happen to a better person. I think that was the happiest loss that any of us have encountered in our professional careers."
McDonald, who lives in Scituate with his wife and daughter during the offseason, is a native of East Lyme, Conn.
Full disclosure: I covered John when I worked in Connecticut and also got to know his dad very well. Jack was a high school football official, basketball referee and baseball umpire. I probably covered something like 250 games he was officiating, maybe more.
They're really good folks, and it's a shame what happened. But hopefully Jack somehow knows what Johnny Mac did for him.