When LJ Hoes hit a home run on Aug. 19 for the Triple-A Norfolk Tides against the Charlotte Knights, it was not just another key hit for the Orioles' 22-year-old prospect.
It was a home run dedicated by Hoes to his grandfather, Charles Eguster Hoes, who died from ALS three days earlier after battling the disease for about two years.
Yeah, that run around the bases was special and had plenty of meaning.
"The last time I talked to him, among his last words were, he told me to hit him a home run. Then, I hit a home run. I got a little emotional running around those bases. He always said he looked forward to me playing at Camden Yards one day," Hoes said.
"When I walked into the (Orioles) clubhouse that first day, that was the first thing on my mind," Hoes said. "I'll be able to honor him when I go out there. This whole season I've been playing for my grandfather. Wanted to get here to play on TV, so he could see me.
"He was ill for about two years with ALS. This past year really just took a toll on his body. He went from walking around to being in a wheelchair at Christmastime. Then in March and April, he was pretty much not doing anything, just laying in bed.
"The last time I saw him I could barely understand him. He was just so weak. It definitely took a toll on my family. Me, him and my dad were very, very close. To see someone so strong and that you looked up to get so weak, it was tough. It took a toll on me. When I was in Bowie, I would leave games to drive and see him and come back and play the next day. It was tough to see him, how he was."
Tonight could be a big night for LJ and his family if he is named the Orioles' minor league Player of the Year, as is expected. He'll miss having someone there that was so important in his life for so many years.
"This whole year I dedicated to him," Hoes said. "Wanted to get up here for him to see me play. Luckily, I did get here. It was a little too late. But, I'm sure he's looking down on me and smiling. He's proud of me for this year. If I do win this award, I dedicate it to him."
In a year where there are a few deserving candidates, Hoes hit .287 with five homers and 54 RBIs between Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk. He hit .300 in 82 games with the Tides.
Even though he hasn't gotten into a game with the Orioles since joining the club September 11, he's learned a few things during his time here.
"It's been great. Just to be around this locker room and this atmosphere. Seeing how big that Oakland series was," Hoes said. "Seeing the rivalry with Boston. It's a great experience for me. To see how these guys go about their routines and daily business. See what's it like to play in a playoff atmosphere.
"Being one of the young guys in here, with this great nucleus of guys, hopefully sometime in the future I'll be out there contributing and helping us in a pennant race."