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Pat Neshek returns to mound as A’s don patches to honor his son

Big League Stew

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Pat Neshek taps a patch honoring his son, who died earlier this week (Getty)

It wasn't easy to notice on TV with the Oakland Athletics wearing their hunter green jerseys, but the team added a memorial patch for Gehrig John Neshek, the baby boy of pitcher Pat Neshek and Stephanee Neshek. He died less than a day after being born earlier this week. Worn on the right sleeve, it's a small black circle with white letters spelling out the initials "GJN."

Not only has Neshek rejoined the team, but he pitched in relief in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Tigers on Saturday night — just three days after Gehrig's death. Stephanee came with him to Detroit and presumably was in the stands at Comerica Park.

Neshek explained why it was the right decision, for him, to return to the A's:

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(A's Facebook page)

"As soon as I got out there and started playing catch, it takes your mind off all the bad stuff," he said. "It's a good way of healing ... I don't think we'll ever get over it, but this is a good way to put the pieces back together."

And, Neshek said, "If nothing else, we want to do it in my son's honor."

Neshek tapped the patch as he entered the game from the bullpen in the seventh inning. He pitched to two batters, getting two outs including a strikeout in Oakland's 3-1 defeat to Detroit. Six of the eight pitches he threw were strikes, including the slider he threw Austin Jackson to end the seventh inning.

"I know it sounds like a cliche, but I really felt like there was someone watching over me and helping me throw that last pitch," Neshek told reporters. "That was the best slider I've thrown all year."

It's difficult to imagine performing so well at any task so soon after such a personal catastrophe. As sad as the Neshek's story has been, their reaction to losing Gehrig has been remarkable.

Here's the video of Neshek getting out of the seventh inning and then paying tribute to Gehrig as he walked toward the dugout.

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