Giants' Father's Day win special for Long and Kapler

Sammy Long

Sunday at Oracle Park in San Francisco was one full of firsts for Sammy Long and Gabe Kapler, pulling at the heartstrings of how we all feel on Father's Day. 

For Long, it was his first career major league start, toeing the rubber in front of his father Trent at the ballpark the Sacramento native grew up going to games at. The day ended with an 11-2 Giants win over the Philadelphia Phillies, earning Long his first big league win. 

Before he could even muster his words together, it was clear just how much the day meant to Long, who quickly has turned into much more than a feel-good story for the Giants. 

"That was ... that was awesome," Long said after the win. "My dad was there, another good showing in front of my family. To do that on Father's Day with him here -- he's one of the main reasons I'm where I'm at today. I get my competitive nature from him, I get my work ethic from him. He taught me everything I need to know in how to succeed in life and in sports.

"It's a special day to be able to share that with him and wear the baby blue for him." 

For Kapler, a father of two sons, this was his first without his own father. Michael Kapler died in December last year of Parkinson's disease and Lewy Body dementia. The Giants' manager admitted before Sunday's game that this would be "a somewhat emotional day" for the 45-year-old. 


After the victory, Kapler expanded on just how he felt throughout the day. 

"Obviously, I think all of us were thinking about our fathers and our sons, our loved ones who are fathers throughout the game," Kapler said. "It's always nice to look out there and see the blue and just have that reminder. At the same time, we have the game to focus on, so that kept our attention.

"But ultimately I think we're all in these games playing for our fathers, sons and loved ones who are celebrating Father's Day today." 

The firsts continued for Long, too. In addition to his first career start and first career win, this also was the first time Long pitched six innings in the majors or minors this season. He allowed just two earned runs -- a two-run shot from catcher J.T. Realmuto -- gave up on four hits, walked one and struck out six. 

One of those strikeouts came against his former college teammate and current Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins. 

Hoskins, who already has 15 homers this season, was a junior at Sacramento State when Long was a freshman. The fellow Sacramento native hit .319 with 12 home runs his junior year on his way to being a fifth-round draft pick by the Phillies in 2014. Long appeared in 17 games his first season at Sac State and went 8-2 with a 3.03 ERA. 

For now, the younger of the two former Hornets has bragging rights. And he's cherishing every moment of them. 

"We kind of made eye contact before the first one and gave a little nod to each other," Long said. "There was kind of a moment there where it was like, 'All right, let's do this buddy.' I thought I had him that second at-bat, the one that I ended up walking him, but that's how it goes.

"I got him the next time. Yeah, that was fun facing off."

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Long is the latest of great stories in this Giants season. From nearly quitting baseball three years ago to rocketing through Double-A Richmond and Triple-A Sacramento, Long will be the first one to tell you even he couldn't have predicted all this to happen. 

Before he knows it, though, a season of firsts is about to become a season of regulars. He's here to stay. Sunday was just the latest example. 

"I'm taking it a day at a time, but yeah, I'm knocking these firsts out of the way pretty swiftly," Long said. "It feels good to get the first win. Gave up the first bomb, thank goodness that's out of the way.

"It's been a pretty action-packed first three outings." 

For some, this was your first Father's Day as a father yourself. For others, it was your first Father's Day without your own. For all, it was a reminder of what matters most in the game we all play each and every day. 


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