Apparently, all it takes for Mike Zunino to hit a homer is to become a father. During Monday night’s match-up between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Kansas City Royals, the new dad smashed his first home run of the season using what he calls “dad strength.”
It was Zunino’s first game back since going on paternity leave on April 19. His wife Alyssa gave birth to a healthy baby boy, Rhett Michael Zunino, late that night. It’s the couple’s first child together.
According to a tweet by Fox Sports reporter Tricia Whitaker, Zunino told her before Monday’s game that “he was hoping for that ‘dad strength.'”
And that dad strength came through, as evidenced by the video that Whitaker shared, which already has over 14,100 views. “A fairytale for Mike Zunino,” she wrote in the caption. “His first child was born this weekend. His first day back, he hits his first home run of the season.”
The Rays were tied 3-3 when Zunino stepped up to the plate. With one on and one out in the seventh inning, he hit a two-run shot, leading the Rays to a 6-3 win. The victory ended a four-game losing streak.
Baby Rhett, along with wife Alyssa, were watching from home. “Such a special night!!! Rhett and I are so proud!” Alyssa tweeted after her husband hit his first homer as a Ray.
His family’s support made the night all the more memorable to Zunino. “It was one of those things where it was the first game doing that, talking to her knowing they were going to watch the game together,” the 28-year-old told the Tampa Bay Times. “Something special. And then to get the [photos of Rhett watching] and everything afterward, it’s the icing on the cake.”
A fairytale for Mike Zunino.
His first child was born this weekend. His first day back, he hits his first home run of the season.
He said before the game he was hoping for that “dad strength”. He got it.
— Tricia Whitaker (@TriciaWhitaker) April 23, 2019