CHICAGO – Naturally when one has a moment like the Cubs’ pinch hitter in the 9th inning did on Sunday, some wonder if it has happened before.
David Bote needed a moment to think about it in his postgame news conference after Wrigley Field.
“I hit one in high school, way back when, and then I hit one in Dayton in 2015,” said Bote when asked when he last pulled off the feat he did against the Nationals.
He was referring to just a Grand Slam, not one that came on national television in the bottom of the ninth of a major league game that erased a 3-0 deficit and gave the Cubs a 4-3 victory over Washington.
This, indeed, was something quite special for the rookie and the teammates that mobbed him at home plate in the middle of the delirium that was Wrigley Field when his 442-foot homer hit well up the center field backdrop.
“When you round those bases and you got the ‘W’ and I’m seeing my teammates at home plate jump around because we got the win, its magical, it’s incredible,” said Bote of the Grand Slam. “It’s an unbelievable feeling. It couldn’t happen to a better team a better group of people in that clubhouse.”
When he got to home plate, they certainly shared in the moment with Bote. He was pulled down immediately as he got to the dish, and a few of his players tore off his jersey as the rookie screamed with joy.
“My jersey’s in shreds,” admitted Bote, though he did get the home run ball back. “Javy (Baez) pulled me down at home plate. I was like ‘Man, I didn’t fall, Javy pulled me down.’ They were fun.”
They couldn’t have been any happier for him – a rookie who’s made a critical contribution to the 2018 Cubs. As a primary fill-in for Kris Bryant, who continues to work his way back after continued shoulder problems since June, Bote is hitting .329 with three homers and 18 RBIs. He’s also done the job on the field as he’s not made an error in 32 games playing first, second, or third base.
It also comes after a lengthy stay in the Cubs’ minor league system for Bote, who was a 2012 18th round draft pick of the team. He reached Triple-A in 2014 but stayed there or in Double-A until this season, when he finally made his major league debut in April.
Yet nothing so far compares to his blast into the night in the ninth inning, especially for starter Cole Hamels. The team couldn’t give him run support on an evening where he allowed just one run and struck out nine so he could get the win, but the joy of Bote’s moment more than more up for that.
“This is the ultimate excitement,” said Hamels of Bote’s homer. “It’s the thing that when you’re a kid in your back yard and you’re visualizing trying to win games, it’s always bases loaded, you’re down by three, and you’re trying to hit the Grand Slam and for Bote to be able to do it, what a way to experience that.”
With all of his teammates by his side, tugging at his jersey, enjoying the special moment as much as him.