Drew Robinson returned to professional baseball Thursday night, and went hitless in his first game since surviving a suicide attempt and losing his right eye last year.
He played right field and struck eighth, hitting each of his four bats for the Sacramento River Cats – San Francisco Giants‘Triple-A-affiliated company – which beat the Las Vegas Aviators 8-1.
On an 88-degree night in Las Vegas, where Robinson was born and raised, the audience recognized him with loud cheers, honoring the remarkable comeback from almost losing his life to being one step away from the major leagues.
“When I ran around the track, heard the crowd, heard my family, heard everyone cheering on me, it hit me like lots of bricks,” Robinson said. “It felt so good to be out there. I’m so glad I was able to appreciate everything for what it was at the moment. It was something I was not able to do before the event.”
Robinson’s family, friends, doctors and coaches were among his top supporters at Las Vegas Ballpark, where he had trained over the winter as he prepared to play again after April 16, 2020, the incident in which Robinson shot himself. He had earned a spot on the River Cats’ list of improved games toward the end of the minor league spring camp, including the same raw power he displayed in his 100 major league games.
He did a lot of other things in the big leagues: strike out. Robinson’s 0-for-4 day was frustrating, especially the night before the comeback, but the swing-and-miss was part of his game long before Thursday.
The Bats were very competitive, as Robinson worked 21 lanes over the four and did not chase balls outside the strike zone. The frustration still showed in his face, especially after the last ball, when he turned the bat to himself after waving through strike three.
Robinson’s night of attack ended on the deck at the top of the ninth and in defense as he watched outs from the right field. He admired where he was, the surroundings, the fact that he even played, and as much as his night on the plate frustrated him, it was the kind of night a year ago he could not even understand.