Kris Bryant on Monday became the first player in modern Major League history to hit three home runs and two doubles in the same game. He amassed 16 total bases in his 5-for-5 performance during 1-8 Cubs victory over the Reds.
Oh yeah, he also played three different positions.
For one night he was the living embodiment of a Matt Christopher protagonist. He remained humble through it all.
After Bryant’s third 400-foot-plus home run, the Great American Ball Park crowd clamored for a curtain call. After a night of making history, this was one record he didn’t want to set.
“Guys were pushing me out, but I’ve never been the type to show up an opponent or anybody. I don’t think that’s ever happened in baseball and I definitely didn’t want to be the first,” Bryant said of a curtain call at a road park. “I’m just not that type of player. I’m glad my teammates are having fun with it. I’m glad there are a lot of Cubs fans here, but I’m not that guy.”
Bryant was saved from further peer pressure when Anthony Rizzo blasted a homer to distract the crowd.
Joe Maddon, who obviously had glowing things to say about his young star, backed Bryant’s decision.
“He doesn’t flamboyantly dunk the basketball, he doesn’t spike the football and he doesn’t flip the bat,” Maddon said. “He’s a man for all ages.”
And he doesn’t take a curtain call in an opponents’ stadium.
“I thought that was appropriate that he did not go out, even though we have a lot of Cubs fans (at GABP),” Maddon said. “I loved everything he did and how he handled the whole night. It was perfect.”
This may seem trivial to those who find the unwritten rules of baseball trite. But it’s a testament to Bryant’s poise that he was able to keep his head and “do the right thing” in the midst of unprecedented success.
He’s 24 and going places. And he’ll do that with a level head.
Cubs fans have a plethora of reasons to be optimistic about the future. Bryant is near the top — if not at the top — of that list.