Brett Phillips’ clothing brand name reveals everything you need to know about the Tampa Bay Rays outfielder.
Baseball is fun.
While Major League Baseball tries to lure any personality out of its stars in the name of “growing the game,” one of its core members has already shown a lot of its own in the first week of the 2022 season – while highlighting the story of a brave fan.
It started Monday night when the outfielder took the pitcher’s mound for cleaning duty during a blowout against the Oakland Athletics. He caused a pop foul from Seth Brown, and the 28-year-old raced to the third base dugout to make a slippery catch that will be on the rollers for years to come.
The following night, Phillips caught the ceremonial first pitch of 8-year-old Chloe Grimes, who is battling cancer for the second time. Phillips is Grimes’ favorite player. Why?
“Because he has the best smile,” Grimes said on Bally Sports. “He always has fun. And I like the way he does his plane.”
Phillips broke “the plane,” his starting celebration – arms outstretched in a full sprint – in Game 4 of the 2020 World Series when his hit (and two Dodgers errors) gave the Rays a dramatic victory of 8-7 in a series they would eventually lose in six games.
Phillips’ reaction that night is part of the same personality that makes him excited to meet fans like Grimes. She gave Phillips a green and white rubber strap before the first pitch; the bracelet says “Rally for Chloe our Princess Warrior.”
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Those weren’t the only gifts either. She also gave Phillips a softball with her name on it and a picture of her on the softball field.
Phillips put it on his wrist and landed his first pitch. He got down on one knee and wrapped his biggest fan in a one-arm hug.
With the Rays leading 5-3 in the third, the Bally Sports broadcast devoted time to Grimes’ story as Phillips led out of frame. Grimes’ mother Jacquie was talking about her daughter’s bravery when Phillips lit a slider by Jacob Lemoine for her first home run of the season, which landed on the podium inside Tropicana Field.
“You are an inspiration, holy cow,” Phillips said of her new friend. “I think it’s the furthest ball, the hardest ball I’ve hit in my career.”
On Wednesday, The Trop workers found the ball. Phillips will sign it and give it to Grimes.
There’s not really much to smile about when it comes to baseball, even beyond the 99-day lockout this season. Star pitchers pout in the dugout when the start of games is delayed a handful of minutes.
Then there are people like Brett Phillips and Chloe Grimes, two peas in a pod, reminding us all to find joy in any situation.
“I’m praying for you guys,” Phillips said after the game when asked about the Grimes family. “Amazing what they’re going through. I hope I get to see Chloe again in the future. What an inspiration…you’re really cool, and this tour was for you.”
Phillips, holding the softball and Chloe’s photo, also complimented her one-arm “cannon”.
“You would never know she was battling cancer, just the joy and energy she brought,” Phillips said.
He added: “It puts my career in perspective and how I come here every day and treat everyone with love and respect. Chloe, you add to the story. I appreciate you.”
Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.