How Cody Bellinger's father celebrated his son's home run-robbing catch is so 2020
Dodgers center Cody Bellinger celebrates after catching a home game for Fernando Tatis Jr. of San Diego during the seventh inning of Game 2 of the NLDS on Wednesday.
It was almost the worst bathroom break you can imagine.
During a pitching change in the seventh inning of Dodgers' NLDS Game 2 on Wednesday, Clay Bellinger stood up from his seat on the upper deck of Globe Life Field, navigating a quiet hall when Fernando Tatis Jr. came on the plate and came back in sight of the diamond when the ball hit his son in midfield.
"I took a look," said Clay, "and saw Cody drift back."
Here Clay watched as Cody robbed a home run with one of the most memorable catches in recent franchise history - alone in an empty stadium, behind some of the vacant seats, still from a distance.
"Not that there are a whole lot of people anyway, but I was just on the sidewalk," said the older Bellinger, laughing during a phone call on Thursday. "It's so strange. It's great to see baseball live, but ... [there's] no atmosphere. No, nothing."
There was a small celebration in the Dodgers' family section on the upper deck, where family members who do not isolate themselves within the team bubble can watch the game.
Clay hurried back and hugged his wife Jennifer. He traded high fives with Dustin May's mom and dad. With Max Muncy and Mookie Betts' parents as the only other people around, it felt like a scene straight out of a Little League tournament.
Cody Bellinger, right, is congratulated by his father Clay during the 2017 Home Run Derby. (Rob Carr / Getty Images)
"It's a great facility," said Clay of the NLDS 'neutral location at the Texas Rangers' home ground. "There aren't many people out there right now who can enjoy it."
It embodied the bizarre experience for Cody's parents this season. They were forced to watch games from their Phoenix home instead of the usual trips to Dodger Stadium. Since Cody returned to Los Angeles to start training camp, they have only seen him during the team's trips to Arizona and when Jennifer goes to Southern California on business.
Clay, himself a two-time World Series winner for the New York Yankees, has been caring for his son from afar, calling Cody frequently during both his early season bouts and his recent return to form.
"Every now and then you have to make a change to see what happens," said Clay. "Hopefully it'll take another three weeks."
Dodgers' Cody Bellinger, left, hugs his mother Jennifer after the mothers throw ceremonial first places ahead of a game against the Washington Nationals on May 12, 2019 at Dodger Stadium.
Clay experienced everything firsthand. Although he only spent four seasons in the major leagues from 1999 to 2002, mostly as a utility player, he appeared in 19 playoff games with the Yankees and was part of their 1999 and 2000 title teams.
He even had his own defining October moment on the outfield, grabbing Todd Row's flyball on the wall in Game 2 of the 2000 World Series against the New York Mets.
"It could have passed, it couldn't," Clay said of his catch at the old Yankee Stadium. "I received a lot of text today that said [Cody] followed in my footsteps."
The moment Clay really wants to share with his son is a World Series victory. When it happens this year he and Jennifer will be there to see it. That one sight would make the weirdness of this season worth it.
"I don't care if it's 60 games or whatever, you're still a world champion," said Clay. "It's obviously a unique year, but whoever wins this thing this year will definitely deserve to win it without a doubt."
This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.
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