CINCINNATI — A dying Cincinnati Reds fan made one last trip to a baseball game, with an assist by Joey Votto and a gem by Homer Bailey.
Jeffrey Crews of suburban Dayton was in the stands July 2, the day Bailey pitched a no-hitter against San Francisco. Two days later, Crews died at home of brain cancer at 62.
His wife, Colleen, said Tuesday her husband decided to spend his last weeks with family and friends rather than undergo treatment after getting a bleak prognosis last month. A family friend reached out to someone who knew Votto as Crews was making plans to go to the game with his wife, their three children, and daughter-in-law.
The result was field-level seats and field passes for batting practice for the whole family. The Reds' star chatted, then suggested Crews pose for pictures with him. Votto gave him an autographed bat.
"We've always been a fan of his and he didn't have to do all that," Colleen Crews said. "He just couldn't have been more of a gentleman, very humble. Just so nice."
The family posted a photo of Crews and Votto on a blog they kept to chronicle his final days.
The family said in the blog that Reds manager Dusty Baker and infielder Todd Frazier had also come over for autographs and photos.
The Crews family settled into their seats to watch Bailey throw his second no-hitter. Collen said they learned later that their friends could see them on TV cheering in the stands.
She said Crews, a lifelong fan who considered one of his personal sports highlights playing Dayton youth baseball against Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt, was delighted.
"It was such a blessing and unbelievable," she said.
HRs tough to come by for hitters at Marlins Park
MIAMI — Dan Uggla lofted a majestic fly to left-center field and began his home-run trot, thinking he had hit a rare home run at Marlins Park.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez thought the ball was gone, too. So did Marlins center fielder Justin Ruggiano, and right fielder Giancarlo Stanton.
But homers are tough to come by in Miami, and Uggla's blow barely grazed the wall. He hustled belatedly to leg out a double.
"I was confused and disappointed and mad all at the same time," Uggla said.
Marlins Park tends to have that effect on hitters. Through Monday, the Marlins ranked last in the majors with 53 homers, but they had hit a respectable 36 on the road — only 17 at home.
Ruggiano led them with 12 homers, but had none at home.
Last year, the first at the new ballpark, the Marlins hit 55 home runs at home and 82 on the road. Their pitchers gave up 58 at home and 75 on the road.
"This ballpark plays very big," manager Mike Redmond said. "It's good for our pitching, not so good for our offense."
The dimensions are daunting — 386 feet to left-center, 418 to center and 392 to right-center. Opinions vary on how the positioning of the retractable roof and windows beyond left field affects the way the ball carries. Marlins officials are in no hurry to alter the dimensions, and while hitters grouse, Gonzalez said he prefers a park that's too big to one that's too small.