On Monday night, 19-year-old Juan Soto hit his first MLB home run for the Washington Nationals. It came on the first pitch of the first at-bat of his first MLB start. That’s a lot of firsts, and it was an incredible moment.
The crowd at Nationals Park was ecstatic, but they weren’t the only group going crazy after Soto’s statement-making debut homer. Not too long ago, Soto was playing at the Nationals academy in the Dominican Republic. So it only makes sense that many of Soto’s former teammates at the academy were watching his first start on Monday night, waiting to see how he’d do. They probably weren’t expecting him to hit a homer on the first pitch he saw, because when he did, the entire room exploded with pure happiness and joy.
The Nats put tonight’s game on for their youngsters at their academy in the Dominican Republic. If you thought this crowd went wild when Soto homered… well, this is pretty special. pic.twitter.com/SKROdB2oox
— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) May 22, 2018
These guys were so happy that two of them took their shirts off and started dancing in front of the TV. Now that’s excitement.
Soto’s former teammates may have known what to do when they saw him hit that homer, but Soto himself wasn’t so sure. According to Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post, after he ran the bases and made it back to the dugout, the crowd kept on clapping and cheering and Soto didn’t know what to do. Manager Dave Martinez and several Nationals players encouraged Soto to take a curtain call, another first in a night of firsts.
Soto’s new teammate Gio Gonzalez, who has been in the majors since 2008, was awestruck by the whole situation. Here’s what he told Janes after the game on Monday:
“The smile, the joy out of his face. It’s what baseball is all about,” Gio Gonzalez said. “Just being so young and enjoying the moment. 19 years old, I don’t even know where I was at 19, just getting to high-A or something like that. It’s unbelievable. That’s a pretty cool story.”
Stories like Soto’s are more than just cool. They’re part of what makes baseball so incredible. They’re what baseball is all about.
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