QUESTIONS, NY – Brandon Belt said he wasn’t sure if his nanny, Margaret, was a baseball fan, but knew she was always a fan of him.
Margaret helped pay Brandon to play at the Showcase as a child, gave Brandon autographed baseball cards to his friends, and hosted memorable family gatherings over the holidays.
When Margaret died of COVID-19 on Tuesday morning, her grandson chose to play against the New York Mets because he believed she would want to have him in the lineup.
“I sent a message to my wife and parents before the game and told them I was struggling a little Belt,” Belt said on a Zoom call with reporters Tuesday evening. “My dad just reminded me that he wants me to go out there and do my best. I think that really pissed me off as much as he could. ”
In his first at-bat of the game against Mets right-hander Tyler Magill, Belt started a massive 431-foot home run straight into center field, which would have all the offense needed for an 8–0 victory.
“Obviously I want to go out there and do well every day, but I really wanted to do this for him today,” Belt said. “Just tell her I appreciate everything and that I love her.”
After a single in his next at-bat, Belt came to the plate again in the top of the fourth and scored a second single home run on the wall of the left field to give the Giants a 6–0 lead. The opposite field homer marked a career-high 19th of the season for Belt, who missed more than a month of play this summer with a knee injury.
“He just seemed off,” said manager Gabe Kapler. “And I think it’s amazing looking at what he experienced today. I thought his swing looked great, in his first bat the bat whistled all over the field and it would fly into every subsequent field. Stayed. ”
In the hour leading up to the first pitch on Tuesday, Belt hugged Kapler on the field. Belt informed Kapler of his intention to play, and after hitting his first home run, Kapler felt something special.
“I couldn’t help but feel there was something powerful at play there,” Kapler said. “I had a really good conversation with (trainer Dave Groshner) about it and I thought it was really powerful.”
Belt explained to Postgame that he needed a place for himself in the dugout during Tuesday’s performance so that he could process all the emotions he felt.
“I think it was pretty emotional throughout the game,” Belt said. “I just had to stop and go it alone for a while and just take it all and know there was something else to play for.”
Belt said that Margaret lived in her home state of Texas just down the street from her family and spent most of her childhood around him. A two-time All-Star with the Giants and a two-time World Series champion, Belt said he would not have progressed this far in his career without his grandmother’s full support.
“It’s been a really tough day and I’ve been in awe all day,” Belt said. “I was glad I could come out and do it for him. I wanted to dedicate the rest of the season to him as well.”