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Bryant received, gave heartwarming gifts in Wrigley return

NBC Sports

CHICAGO -- Before he stepped in the box Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field or got a chance to run out to play left field, Kris Bryant stood along the backstop and watched a tribute video that lasted more than two minutes. 

Bryant shed some tears as he watched, and Wrigley Field exploded in cheers when highlights of the 2016 World Series were shown. The longtime Cubs star then walked up to the plate for a presentation, leaving with his old number, 17, from the scoreboard and a flag commemorating that 2016 title run. Bryant wasn't the only one to get a gift on Friday, though. 

Kris and his wife, Jessica, arranged for stadium workers to get cookies before the game and a message thanking them for all their work throughout his Cubs career. After the 6-1 Giants win, Bryant said he thought that hundreds of cookies had been distributed. 

"It's just something me and my wife wanted to do," he said. "It's easy to thank your hitting coach or your teammates or the people writing out your checks, but the people behind the scenes here really make this place go. They've been through a lot here, a lot of them have 20-years-plus of working in the stands and going through a lot of losing seasons and to finally win one and see how happy they were, and just how they treated us my whole career here, it was just a little something that I could send their way to show how much me and my family appreciate them."

 

Bryant's big return didn't lead to any fireworks on the field. He was 0-for-3 with a walk and a couple of strikeouts, both coming in a matchup with longtime teammate Kyle Hendricks. That was probably to be expected, though. The pregame ceremony was so well done that it was hard to blame Bryant for losing any focus once the first pitch was delivered.

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Bryant said the whole thing was "just more than I expected."

"I kind of knew it would be like this but it kind of got the best of me," he said. "It was kind of hard to play a baseball game after that, for sure, but I really appreciated it. When I first started my career here, I don't know if I could have ever dreamed of having that type of reception and the fans welcoming me back like that was definitely something that is one of the highlights of my career so far."

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