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ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – It was an emotional beginning to the Rangers home opener. Longtime Texas Rangers fan Robbie Parker was trying to calm his nerves before throwing the ceremonial first pitch in honor of his daughter Emilie, who died in the Newtown school shooting.
Parker, along with his wife and his two daughters, were accompanied to the mound by Emilie’s favorite Ranger, David Murphy. Robbie is a native North Texan, and attended games with Emilie in Boston, Seattle and in Arlington.
Not long after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, a photo circulated of Parker and Emilie at Fenway Park in Boston last year, the girl holding a home run ball hit by Murphy during batting practice. When Parker would watch his beloved Rangers on TV, Emilie would ask about “the guy who hit that ball.” In a very kind gesture, Murphy presented the Parker family with his opening night jersey from the game in Houston.”They’ve got a game to play and they’ve got to focus and so I didn’t want to be a distraction to anybody at all,” Parker said. “But he’s just a nice guy. That was really special that he was able to do that for us.”
After a hug from the Rangers Left-Fielder, it was time to throw the ceremonial first pitch. Behind the plate awaiting the throw was non other than Pudge Rodriguez.
Following the pitch, Robbie Parker turned to the former star catcher Rodriguez and jokingly asked if they were the only two people around, even though they were on the field at sold-out Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on Friday. It sure seemed that way when the pair shared a long, emotional embrace after Parker met his goal of getting the pitch all the way to the 14-time All-Star’s glove.
“It was really tough to try to keep my emotions under control there,” Parker said a few minutes later, still fighting back tears. “It was pretty amazing.” Rodriguez offered more than just a hug — two, actually. “He said, `I just want you to know how much I love you,’ and he just said your daughter is being a great example to so many people,” Parker said. “And he just pointed to the crowd and said, `All these people are here for you and they’re here because of her.”‘
6-year-old Emilie, was among the 26 people who died in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in December.
(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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