Kris Bryant cooked a feast for the fans and delivered cookies to Wrigley employees
Theo Epstein said in 2014 that he wanted to give fans an annual feast, not just cookies. Seven years later, the dirty dishes from that long-ended banquet are still slamming in the dishwasher, and one of the chefs has finally brought cookies to the table. Literally.
In an emotional return to Wrigley Field on Friday afternoon, Kris Bryant and his wife, Jess, brought cookies for every stadium employee. The goodies came with a note thanking them for being a part of the Bryants family for the past seven years, which is exactly the kind of thoughtful gesture you would expect from the perpetually underrated star.
“It’s easy to thank your hitting coach or your teammates or the people who write your checks, but the folks behind the scenes here really make this place work,” said Bryant. “They’ve been through a lot here. A lot of them have over 20 years of working in the stands and have gone through a lot of lost seasons and only to finally win one and see how happy they were and how they treated us my whole career here, c was just a little something I could send them to show how much my family and I appreciate them.
The news of the baked goods primed the pump for the water supply that began when the Cubs released a tribute video before the start of the game. Similar flagship films were edited for Jon Lester and Kyle Schwarber earlier in the season, but there was a bit more distance in terms of time spent away from the Cubs. Bryant hit the video’s 1:47 mark without tearing himself apart, and then he made the mistake of turning to look into the crowd.
Visibly moved by the warm welcome from the fans, the Giant had to adjust his sunglasses in order to wipe his eyes. And it wasn’t just a few small tears streaming down his cheeks, the man was struggling to keep his cool. If that hasn’t moved the hearts and minds of those who – despite everything he’s said and we’ve reported over the years – nurtured the belief that Bryant didn’t want to stay in Chicago, nothing would. will.
“It was a little tough playing a baseball game after that, sure, but I really enjoyed it,” said Bryant. “When I started my career here, I don’t know if I could have ever dreamed of having this type of reception and the fans welcoming me like that. Definitely something which is one of the highlights of my career so far. “
As if that weren’t enough, Willson Contreras and Kyle Hendricks saw fit to take their time with a little extra communication to allow for a long standing ovation before Bryant’s first at-bat. He indeed looked a little shaken up, hitting on three shots to end the first inning, although it would be unfair not to recognize how good Hendricks looked in the afternoon.
Bryant ended up going 0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored in a very easy 6-1 win for the Giants, so it was bittersweet all around. The Cubs lost, Bryant did not do particularly well, and the quarantine of Jed Hoyer and David Ross due to COVID meant that Crane Kenney and Jason McLeod were among the entourage of gifts at the ceremony. ‘pre-game.
There is irony in this group that I will not go into here, but I felt a little offbeat. Kind of like seeing Bryant at Wrigley in a Giants uniform, or having to navigate the park from a different entrance and clubhouse.
“This place is my home. It always will be, ”said Bryant. “I know my way here. Every time I’m here I always feel like it’s home.
Kris Bryant was by no means a perfect baseball player, although being the best of all time may not have been enough to meet the expectations raised by a string of unprecedented initial successes. He went from being the top varsity baseball player to being the best minor league baseball player to rookie of the year, national league MVP and world series champion. That’s over 99% of baseball players will perform in their lifetime and Bryant did it in four years.
Then came the disappointment of missing the playoffs or not reaching them at all while playing despite injuries that kept him from returning to the big scoring stats everyone wanted to see. His reputation was marred by reports of contract demands and fans turned on him due to an inexplicable belief that he was a prima donna. I don’t care if it’s all water under the bridge at this point, I’m mean enough to keep screaming this nonsense until the end of days.
For now, though, I’ll close by saying that Bryant did everything the Cubs asked him to do, and then some. He helped run a legendary franchise at the end of the most legendary championship drought in American sports history and has remained humble throughout. It ushered in a new era of Cubs baseball and was ushered in when it became clear that era was over. Knowing that MLB is a business, it’s always hard to see how it all fell apart at 1060 W. Addison even as the team pumped hundreds of millions into “Saving Wrigley Field”.
But at least Bryant has a chance to win another title with the Giants, and I’m fighting for him to do so.