After recording his first MLB hit on Friday night, St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Tyler O’Neill was almost at a loss for words.
“I’m still feeling a little weird,” he smiled as he walked to his locker. “The only thing I can compare it to is actually getting the call to come up here. Just that feeling of success and everything you work up to has finally paid off in my life. Again, it’s something I’ll never forget.”
The first hit won’t be forgotten, but it has been joined by another memorable moment as O’Neill hit his first home run this afternoon–and received a curtain call.
“That’s definitely a really special feeling,” said O’Neill. “It’s last night’s single amplified. Just jogging around the bases, I don’t even know where my mind was at. Then getting the curtain call was just the cherry on top, so again, just another feeling I’ll never forget.”
It was the first curtain call of O’Neill’s career, who had no idea what to expect.
“The boys were pushing me out,” he said. “I think that’s the first time that I’ve smiled hitting a home run in a long time. 42,000+ backing you, it’s a great feeling.”
In his 29 games played at Memphis (AAA) this season, O’Neill has hit 13 home runs.
“I’m just trying to put together good at-bats,” said O’Neill. “I’m doing a really good job of controlling the strike zone for the most part. Just making sure that I’m starting early and focusing on seeing the ball. Not focusing on mechanics or what the pitcher’s trying to do to me, just trusting my ability and reacting. That’s been, I think, the biggest key to my success.”
As the fans were cheering the home run for O’Neill, another milestone was recorded as Steve Baron singled for his first MLB hit.
“It felt good, it felt really special,” said Baron. “Felt like a burden was lifted off my shoulders. Felt like it brought some energy to me and the team too, so that was nice. It would’ve been nice to come out with a win today, I think that’s the most important thing.”
That burden was the wait of nearly three years since the 27-year old Baron made his first appearance in the big leagues. Playing for Seattle, he recalls coming close a single up the middle, but was denied by Andrelton Simmons.
“Made a nice play on me,” said Baron. “I didn’t come through with a hit then, it’s nice to finally come through.”
photo credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports