Rhys Hoskins sheds a tear, as he expected, in his return to Philly with the Brewers

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Rhys Hoskins expected to shed a tear at some point Monday night. It didn’t take long.

Hoskins received a standing ovation prior to his first plate appearance in Philadelphia since the 2022 World Series, when he was the starting first baseman for the Phillies.

He tipped his batting helmet toward the Phillies' dugout and tapped his chest above his heart. The Phillies players on the field all took off their caps and saluted Hoskins. Bryce Harper, whose move to first base this season precipitated the Phillies' decision not to re-sign Hoskins, applauded.

The Brewers designated hitter acknowledged the fans and did his best to keep his emotions in check, nodding his head and biting his lip as the applause swelled.

“I’m kind of a crier,” Hoskins said before Monday night's game between Milwaukee and Philadelphia. “I think it just tells you all you need to know about the energy and emotion that I’ve been able to grab from this place.”

The at-bat ended with Hoskins popping out to shortstop, but it was every bit the emotional moment Hoskins had expected.

“It was awesome,” Brewers manager Pat Murphy said. “These fans showed what this game is all about. Rhys left an impression on this fan base like he will on ours. ... It meant a lot to him. He’s a deep kid. He loves this game. It treated him great, and the Phillies treated him great. He loves this place.”

And then in the seventh inning, Hoskins took Phillies starter Zack Wheeler deep to left-center for his 10th homer of the season, ending Wheeler's shutout bid.

“It was different,” Hoskins said. “Normally you go into a visiting ballpark, and you hit a home run and you are not hearing any cheers. The mix of boos and cheers was different and fun.”

He also stole a base and was later thrown out at the plate by Johan Rojas on a single by Blake Perkins.

Hoskins, 31, spent seven seasons with the Phillies before signing with the Brewers as a free agent in the offseason.

The ovation was not a surprise to injured Phillies outfielder Brandon Marsh, who said the fans did right by Hoskins.

“Rhys was here for such a long time and he brought a lot to this city and this team and organization,” Marsh said. “I would have hoped that the Bank would welcome him with open arms and (give him) an ovation.”

Considered a clubhouse leader, Hoskins was one of the foundational pieces of the Phillies' renaissance. The club was an also-ran when he arrived in August of 2017 but became a championship contender in each of the previous two seasons.

A fifth-round pick by the Phillies in the 2014 amateur draft, Hoskins hit 18 home runs in his first 170 major league at-bats and finished fourth in NL Rookie of the Year voting despite playing fewer than two months of the season. Hoskins missed the 2023 season after tearing the ACL in his right knee in spring training. He was trying to get back in time to rejoin his team for the World Series, but the Phillies were beaten in the NLCS by the Arizona Diamondbacks in seven games.

His seminal moment with Philadelphia came in Game 3 of the 2022 NLDS when he hit a home run off Atlanta Braves starter Spencer Strider. Hoskins slammed his bat to the ground in what has become known as the “bat spike” in Phillies lore.

“The best part about it is that it came in the first playoff game in this stadium in over a decade,” Hoskins said. “I think that’s where that kind of eruption of emotion came from because it was just built up for so long and I drew that right from the fans.”

Hoskins made an impression during his time with the Phillies for his contributions off the field. He and his wife, Jayme, were involved with the Philadelphia community and made the city their home in the offseason.

“He’s a man’s man,” Philadelphia manager Rob Thomson said. “He’s honest. He has a lot of integrity. He cares about other people. He’s a really talented player, obviously. He plays the game the right way and plays it hard. He’s just a pro’s pro.”

Hoskins has had a solid start with the Brewers. He hit nine homers in 40 games but missed a couple weeks with a hamstring strain. Hoskins was reactivated Friday, allowing him to be in the lineup for his Philadelphia homecoming.

“I was so glad to be his teammate,” said Phillies reliever Seranthony Dominguez, who played with Hoskins for six years. “He is a great person and was a great leader. I’m glad to see he (got) the ovation from the fans. I’m happy to see him get that.”