Top 10 Greatest Moments of Respect in Baseball
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Top 10 Greatest Moments of Respect in Baseball

VOICE OVER: Tom Aglio WRITTEN BY: Zachary Siechen
These moments have transcended sport to take on a greater meaning. For this list, we'll be looking at symbolic gestures and noble acts of admiration that have honored great participants throughout the history of baseball and softball. Our countdown includes Mariano Rivera's Rocking Chair, Lou Gehrig's “Luckiest Man” Speech, The Vin Scully Tribute at Dodger Stadium, and more!
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Top 10 Greatest Moments of Respect in Baseball


Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Greatest Moments of Respect in Baseball.

For this list, we’ll be looking at symbolic gestures and noble acts of admiration that have honored great participants throughout the history of baseball and softball. These acknowledgements are not limited to players, but we are focusing on moments that pertain specifically to the game. So we won’t be including the “Houston” or “Boston Strong” jerseys that were worn in the wake of great tragedies.

Did we hit this out of the park? Or did we leave some honorees on the warning track? Tell us in the comments!

#10: Mariano Rivera’s Rocking Chair

Many dreams of retirement involve a relaxing rocking chair, but former Yankee pitcher Mariano Rivera has one for the books. Considered one of the greatest closers of all time, Rivera forced many batters to watch their team’s final strike cross home plate. Rivera’s pitches were also notorious culprits for shattering louisville slugger wood. And the Minnesota Twins remembered this well. During his final season in 2013, the Twins gifted Mo with a rocker dubbed “the Chair of Broken Dreams”, made entirely out of broken baseball bats. It was a charming sendoff to one of baseball’s greats, whose talent was applauded by all, including his adversaries.

#9: Thurman Munson’s Locker is Retired

Thurman Munson was truly a legend of his time. The Ohio-born catcher was a Rookie of the Year, 1976 MVP and a two-time World Series winner. He also achieved the rare and highly coveted title of “Yankee Captain.” Then in 1979, his life was tragically cut short when he was lost in a devastating plane crash. The baseball community mourned his passing. Munson’s number was promptly retired, and an honorary plaque was erected in Monument Park next to the likes of Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, and Babe Ruth. But the most moving shrine to Munson was preserving his locker. When the new Yankee Stadium was built, the locker was conscientiously moved to the arena’s resident museum to honor his memory.

#8: A Little Leaguer Hugs His Rival Pitcher

The “little” in Little League can be deceptive, as some of the athletes take the game just as seriously as the pros. During a playoff game, pitcher Kaiden Shelton drilled a wild pitch into the helmet of batter Isaiah Jarvis. Shelton, however, seemed just as damaged by the impact. As the pitcher hung his hat to hide the tears, Jarvis shook off the blow and marched to the mound. The young batter then wrapped arms around his opponent and offered words of encouragement. Both boys’ concern and adulation for the other inspired a crowd standing ovation. Are you crying yet?

#7: The San Francisco Giants Salute Bobby Cox

This player-turned-manager commanded both the Toronto Blue Jays and the Atlanta Braves, leading the latter to a 1995 World Series victory. After twenty-nine years of being a manager that managers looked up to, Bobby Cox’s final game ended in defeat to the San Francisco Giants. The crucial victory propelled San Fran further in the playoffs, but it played second fiddle to Cox’s legacy. The bay area boys led all of Turner Field in applause and irrepressible esteem. Cox would make other emotional appearances, even after having suffered a stroke. However, as a man who also holds a record for memorable game ejections, (“Signs” quote) a respectful nod from a rival might ironically be his favorite.

#6: The Vin Scully Tribute at Dodger Stadium

SB [“It’s time for Dodger baseball!”] That mythical battle cry started the Dodgers’ ball games for sixty-seven seasons. The words bellowed from Vin Scully, the team’s unforgettable sportscaster whose life and career were as substantial as the sport itself. When he passed in 2022, he was mourned by all fans, regardless of their franchise loyalty. There were many tributes, but the one that takes the cake took place at Dodger Stadium. Following memorial videos and a moment of silence, manager Dave Roberts led the unveiling of a symbolic “We’ll Miss You” banner. Roberts also shared a few words that touched on Scully's impactful life and how his love of baseball had unified so many. He concluded by rousing a chant of Vin’s trademark words…loud enough to pierce the heavens. (“It’s time for Dodger baseball!!!” insert)

#5: Sarah Tucholsky’s Home Run

You might not know this, but a home run isn’t technically scored until the batter has touched all four bases. This may not seem important…until suddenly it is. When the women’s softball teams from Western Oregon and Central Washington faced each other, Sarah Tucholsky broke a scoreless game with her very first home run. As she rounded the bases, a sudden knee injury left her temporarily unable to walk. Per the rule book, her teammates were unable to provide physical assistance. However, players of the opposing Oregon team offered to carry Tucholsky around the diamond, allowing the homer to officially count. The moment was so revered that the girls were awarded “Best Moment” at the 2008 ESPYS.

#4: Honoring Roberto Clemente

Here’s another instance of great respect rising from the ashes of devastation. At only thirty-eight, Pittsburgh right fielder Roberto Clemente lost his life in a plane crash. Besides leaving a void in many hearts, his death emptied the world of a kind and charitable human being. The Baseball Hall of Fame readily waived its five-year waiting period for his induction. He was the first player of Latin American and Caribbean descent to be inducted.The Roberto Clemente Award remains established in his name, given annually to an athlete who exemplifies “sportsmanship,” “community involvement,” and “the game of baseball.” With it, Roberto Clemente and the spirit of “paying it forward” live on. And let’s not forget about Roberto Clemente day.

#3: Derek Jeter’s Final Game at Fenway Park

Even if you don’t know that three strikes equal an out, you’ve surely still heard of Derek Jeter. Considered by many to be one of baseball’s GOATs, he holds several records and was a captain of the New York Yankees. He was offensively exceptional and a defensive player who somehow always knew just where to be. At his playing career’s end, Jeter earned his 3,465th hit during his final game against the Boston Red Sox. As he walked off, all in attendance rose to their feet, clapping thunderously and cheering his name. The bloodthirsty antagonism between the Yanks and the Sox didn’t matter that day. Whether they were wearing pinstripes or a red “B,” everyone rose to admire an exceptional man and an unmatchable athletic maestro.

#2: Lou Gehrig’s “Luckiest Man” Speech

There are speeches and there are speeches. This is the latter. Lou Gehrig belonged to “Murderer’s Row”, a lineup that many still consider to be the greatest in baseball history. When Gehrig was diagnosed with terminal ALS, the Yankees established the first “Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day”, on which he was showered with commendations, trophies, and reinforcements of distinction. The Iron Horse then took to the mic. In what’s known as his “Luckiest Man” speech, Lou reflected on his life and considered himself beyond fortunate. It’s one of the greatest moments in all of sports, as the world lovingly eulogized Gehrig…and he gave it right back.

#1: Retiring Jackie Robinson’s Number

There aren’t enough moments to fully respect the story of Jackie Robinson. By joining the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, Robinson broke the color barrier as the first African American to play for the modern MLB. Not only a pioneer for American athletics, he was a symbol for the locomotive of sociopolitical change that was fast approaching. He contributed to multiple of the Dodgers’ World Series appearances and their 1955 championship. In his honor, the number 42 was the first jersey number officially retired. Players across baseball still wear Robinson’s number each year on Jackie Robinson Day, a tradition that remembers the young Dodger’s debut. You can visit his headstone in Brooklyn or just go to any ballgame, where his legend lives on.
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