Mesa, Ariz. -- I have known Shawon Dunston as a player and now a coach, and in all that time, I have never seen him virtually speechless.
In one of the coolest spring training moments I’ve ever witnessed, Shawon Dunston Jr. was added from minor league camp to fill out the Cubs’ roster for Monday's exhibition game against the Giants. The young outfielder was a solid player at Valley Christian in San Jose and made his pro debut last year in short-season ball after the Cubs bought out his commitment to Vanderbilt.
Shawon Sr. found out his son would be facing the Giants and so he did what any parent would do: He went around to every Giants pitcher and lobbied them to throw nothing but fastballs.
[CSNChicago.com: Cubs-Giants becomes a reunion for Dunston family]
Cubs manager Dale Sveum definitely scored some coolness points by calling up Dunston Jr. from the minors for the day. Then he did one better. Sveum surprised the kid by telling him to take the lineup card to the umpires. Shawon Jr. went out there to find his pops presenting the card for the Giants.
If that wasn’t good enough, Shawon Jr. got to play center field in the sixth inning. He was on deck when Vogelsong got the final out, and so he ended up leading off the seventh against Kontos – a Chicago native who grew up a huge Cubs fan.
Kontos, good chap that he is, threw Dunston Jr. two fastballs. The second one was a well struck out to deep center field.
The Giants had a big lead and the game was well in hand, but Dunston Jr. got one more at-bat in the ninth – against closer Sergio Romo. He took a fastball and a slider to fall behind 0-2, and I guarantee his dad won’t let that go without comment. (The elder Dunston was an aggressive hitter and he’ll never be impressed by a walk.) But then came three pitches out of the zone, and then a 3-2 pitch that the kid poked through the left side for a single.
A hit. In a major league exhibition. Off the guy who threw the clinching pitch in the last World Series. And with your dad watching it all in the other dugout.
After the game, father and son embraced on the field. And Dunston Sr. had to reach up and stick a finger under his wraparound sunglasses to wipe away tears.
By the time we reporters were through getting the postgame update from Bochy, Dunston Sr. already had boarded the Giants bus. Bochy, who had his own son in camp earlier this spring, knew what a special moment this was. So he went on board and told Shawon Sr. to come out and give us a comment.
"I can't make the bus late," he told us.
We just wanted to know what that was like, one of us asked.
“I’m very proud … very proud,” Dunston said.
Then he started to lose it. So without warning, he turned and sprinted back onto the bus.
And that pretty much said it all.