SAN FRANCISCO — Bryan Stow needed only three words to move an entire ballpark at the San Francisco Giants' home opener.
Nearly beaten to death in an attack outside Dodger Stadium last year, Stow's surprise appearance live on the center-field videoboard before Friday's 5-0 win against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the home opener might have been emotional enough. Instead, he also stirred fans and players with a touching family moment.
As the entire Giants team stood atop the mound for the ceremonial first pitch, Stow, sitting in a wheelchair and wearing a San Francisco shirt, suddenly appeared on the screen with his mother, Ann. Then he struggled to get out a few words short words to his 13-year-old son, Tyler, who was standing on the mound at AT&T Park next to Giants reliever Jeremy Affeldt.
"Good luck, son," Stow said.
Tyler tossed the pitch a little high and outside – but it didn't bounce, and it didn't really matter where it landed. The improvements from his father were enough, coming nearly a year after the attack in Los Angeles that left Stow in a coma.
"For me to stand with his son and to be able to see that Bryan is speaking a lot better than the last time I saw him, he moved his hand, he handed the ball on the screen and to see his son throw the way he did is pretty awesome," said Affeldt, who has visited Stow and his family several times. "It was a good tribute to his family and to the fans in general, too, because they've been through this whole loss with him."
Stow, a Giants fan and father of two young children, spent months in a medically induced coma after being punched in the head, kicked and slammed to the ground outside Dodger Stadium last March. Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood are charged in the beating. Both have pleaded not guilty.
Stow's family has said the 43-year-old former paramedic from Santa Cruz is undergoing aggressive therapy to help him become more independent. He now shares an apartment with two other patients, and they have full-time assistance.
His mother thanked fans for their support before Stow spoke on the video screen. She also said the family hopes to bring Stow to a Giants game at some point this season.
"We had hoped that Bryan would be here today with you, but he is working on his rehab," she said.
The Dodgers-Giants rivalry is one of baseball's oldest and fiercest, dating back decades to when the teams were in New York. Stow's attack turned into a rallying cry for fan safety – with both teams coming out against violence at games – and spawned an outpouring of support.
Giants third base coach and musician Tim Flannery – who caught Tyler's ball – has held two benefit concerts. Home run king Barry Bonds also has contributed to a college fund for Stow's children, and Giants ace Tim Lincecum gave $25,000 to the Bryan Stow Fund to help with medical bills and other expenses last year.
The Giants also raised approximately $70,000 for the Stow fund last year, partnering with his employer, American Medical Response, to gather donations at AT&T Park before the start of a series with the Dodgers in April. The total included a $10,000 donation from the team.
"Our dream was to have Bryan drop the ball into Buster's mitt," Giants President and CEO Larry Baer said, referring to catcher Buster Posey. "What we clearly did not want to do was disrupt his treatment or disrupt his progress by doing something that was going to be invasive to move him here. ... What we wanted to do was find a way for him to say thank you. It was a two-way feeling that fans wanted to say, `We love you, Bryan, and keep fighting the fight,' and he and the family wanted to say thank you to everybody. How could we do that? The clear way to do that was to have him on the screen."
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