Neshek joins A's for ALDS following tragedy
Grieving reliever hopes to honor son's memory, begin healing process
By Jane Lee / MLB.com
Friday, October 5, 2012 4:40 PM PT
Just two days after the sudden and heartbreaking passing of their 1-day-old son, Gehrig John, Neshek and his wife flew from their home in Florida to Detroit to rejoin the A's as they prepare to begin the American League Division Series on Saturday.
"I kind of questioned it at first, but I know it's the right decision," a somber but brave Neshek said. "I got out there and started playing catch and it all comes back to you right away. It really takes your mind off all of the bad stuff. I think it's a very good way of healing up a little bit and trying to get past it.
"It was tough. We were locked up in the house, and you can sit there all day, but it was kind of what I imagine hell is like. But seeing a lot of support from the guys and other players around baseball and guys I've played with and fans of baseball was really helping us. If nothing else, we kind of wanted to do it in my son's honor, to come here and do this."
"It's awesome to see him," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "I spoke to him real briefly. [He] got in here today, wanted to be here, rushed to get here. I think the team can kind of insulate you from something like that. You know you're going to get a ton of support."
An abundance of celebration, not sorrow, filled the 32-year-old Neshek's life just Monday, when he received a call from Stephanee, while champagne dripped from his face moments after the A's secured a playoff berth, to learn that she was in labor. Stephanee gave birth to a healthy Gehrig on Wednesday and, on Thursday, Neshek received a different kind of call from her while watching the fifth inning of Oakland's eventual AL West-clinching victory. Gehrig had unexpectedly and, with no explanation, stopped breathing.
"We sat all night," Neshek said. "We didn't know what to do, because people were sending us texts of congratulations and stuff and that really hurt. But then I put it up on Twitter and Facebook, and it was pretty amazing, just what talking with friends and talking with complete strangers, how much of that helps the grieving process. I don't think we'll ever get over it. This really helps. It's a good way to start putting the pieces back together."
The Nesheks have scheduled an autopsy for their baby boy, who provided enough joy to his parents in his one day on earth to last a lifetime.
"That was probably the best day I ever had, the one day," Neshek said. "I'd go through it all again just for that one day. It was pretty awesome."
Hopeful for the days ahead, Neshek will spend them with his family, Stephanee and teammates included. Whether he is placed on the A's active roster for the ALDS won't be known until Saturday morning, but no matter the decision, "We all want to be here for him," Melvin said.
"We're proud of the fact that he did get here and wants to be with us, wants to be on the roster, wants to pitch," he said. "So we will support that as completely as we possibly can."
"There's really nothing you can say and nothing you can do to take away the pain of something like that, just offer a hug and say a prayer for him," A's reliever Jim Miller said. "There's hope that maybe him being back with us helps him breathe a little bit. I can't imagine how that would feel like. I remember my son, when he was born, grabbing my pinky and holding on, and to think, 23 hours after that, for him to be gone, I would have been a wreck. I give him a tremendous amount of praise and credit to be here."