Chicago Cubs: An emotional day watching Kris Bryant’s return to Wrigley

Thomas Erbe
Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /
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Chicago Cubs / Kris Bryant
(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs fans make Kris Bryant feel right at home prior to first pitch

With an eruption of cheers as if a Cub just knocked a double into the right-center gap late in a game, Bryant emerged from the visiting first base line dugout to begin his all too familiar warm up routine on the field. This was the first time I saw in real life my guy wearing the wrong colors.

I’m not unfamiliar to this. I was reminded of Chipper Jones. Growing up in Atlanta as a Cubs fan, I latched on to Chipper as a favorite player, even though the Cubs were my favorite team. I thought I knew how to do this and all would be well. But I never saw Chipper in any other uniform than the Braves, certainly not a Cubs uniform. That’s where this differed. Kris was a Cub, my guy was on my team, and now he is not.

He met some of his former teammates in shallow center field during warm ups. I saw him have some hugs and conversation with Ian Happ, David Bote, and even Patrick Wisdom. Bryant was always a guy you saw warming up pregame and meeting with the opposing team during the warm-ups. This day would be no different.

After his normal stretching and a few tosses back and forth with a teammate, he was pulled aside and started his walk toward the area by the visitor’s on-deck circle. I could see his wife and child down in the stands by that area, obviously preparing for a moment well-deserved, but should have been done ten or fifteen years in the future, and not this day.

A very emotional Kris Bryant received a tribute video and walked to home plate in an eruption of cheers. Wiping away tears that I can only assume represented a plethora of emotions, he was met at home plate by none other than Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney and Chairman/Owner Tom Ricketts. General Manager/President of Baseball Operations Jed Hoyer and Cubs Manager David Ross were both quarantining after testing positive for COVID-19 and were unable to be at the game.

Bryant was presented with a number 17 from the iconic center field scoreboard and a blue 2016 flag representing the Cubs’ World Series championship. After another huge and deserving ovation from the Wrigley crowd, Bryant gave another tip of the cap to fans and went over to greet his family, wife Jessica and son Kyler.

At last, it was game time.