SAITAMA, Japan - Father's Day marked a very bittersweet weekend for families across the globe. Some were able to reunite with their loved ones for the first time in months, or even years, after finally getting a chance to be fully vaccinated. Others, tragically, carried on with their weekend with an empty seat or two at the table.
Over in Japan, many foreign-born workers were forced to spend the weekend away from their families back home due to the country's strict COVID-19 travel restrictions. Foreign-born professional baseball players were among the workers in Japan separated from their families this Father's Day.
On Sunday, the Seibu Lions surprised their foreign-born teammates during batting practice with a touching video titled, "How much I love you." The video served as a Father's Day tribute for the team's four American players – Matt Dermody, Reed Garrett, Zach Neal and Cory Spangenberg – and Venezuelan player Ernesto Mejia, as none of them were able to be home with their families for Father's Day.
The players' families made cameos in the touching video to remind the Lions that they're loved and missed back home, moving Garrett and Neal to tears as they watched from the field.
SURPRISE, AZ - FEBRUARY 24: Zach Neal #49 of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws a warm up pitch prior to the first inning of the spring training game against the Kansas City Royals at Surprise Stadium on February 24, 2018 in Surprise, Arizona. (Photo by
After the video was played on the stadium's big screen, the players were then greeted by the team's staff from the stands as they held up signs with their names to show their support.
While it's not the same as being able to see their loved ones in person, the Lions players all appear to have appreciated the touching gesture from the team.
Neal, 32, had two brief stints with the Los Angeles Dodgers organization in 2018. The right-handed pitcher threw a single inning for the Boys in Blue in April of that season before he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds. Neal was then traded back to the Dodgers on the Fourth of July, although he spent the remainder of the 2018 season with the Dodgers AAA-affiliate team in Oklahoma City.