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Hunter and Braden Bishop share field in Giants-Mariners game that was ‘bigger than baseball’


PEORIA, Ariz. — Record books will reflect there were nine innings played, a game completed, each Bishop brother with a pair of at-bats.

It’ll be nice for Hunter Bishop to take a look at the box score, to hold tangible proof.

“I still don’t really believe it happened yet,” the Giants top prospect said after playing competitively against his brother for the first time.

There were five years separating them growing up, older-brother Braden going through St. Francis High School in Mountain View and the University of Washington only seeing his little brother in the stands.

Little-brother Hunter graduated from Serra in San Mateo before choosing a different Pac-12 locale, Arizona State, and then became the 10th-overall pick of the Giants last June.

The Giants called the center fielder up for his second dip of major league life and first ever official matchup with the Mariners outfielder and “my idol.”

The two are not just linked by the sport they play or their DNA but by experiences and the lives that have shaped them. Their mother, Suzy Bishop, died in October after she was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s in 2014. Their lives are not solely consumed by baseball, the two running a charity, 4MOM, that has raised over $300,000, Braden said, to “provide help to people going through it, who need financial help or just need answers.”

They saw the struggle of their mother and their father, who had to pick up two jobs to try to make ends meet. Braden founded the charity, which will hold its first conference in San Francisco in January, and has watched it grow, hesitant at first to let his brother help.

“When I started in 2014, I wanted to bring [Hunter] in slowly because obviously he was in high school at the time, and then he went to college,” Braden said on the field after the game. “I wanted him to see that more meaningful work is done off the field. You really find your purpose outside the lines. And it’s just so easy to tie who you are and your identity to what you do in between the lines.

“But I think the sooner you can get the perspective of: It’s not about who you are as a baseball player but who you are as a person, because that’s what people are going to see far after you’re done playing — that’s extremely important.”

It is with that backdrop that they took the Peoria Sports Complex field Thursday, for what would be a 5-4 Giants victory in a spring training result rendered especially meaningless.

Hunter, who had been in minor league camp, texted his brother Wednesday night when he first saw the lineup. They knew it was a possibility, and then it was reality. Hunter’s soft trash talk was that “I’m getting a hit and he ain’t,” and sure enough Hunter singled to left for his first spring training hit in major league camp. It may have been a slight shame it wasn’t Braden who fielded it, but the two wouldn’t have to wait much longer to be linked again.

Hunter took off for second, and Seattle shortstop Joseph Odom sailed the throw all the way to center field. Hunter took off for third, Braden fielded it and began to wind up — but ate it.

“I was shaking the finger. Couldn’t get me,” Hunter said, the two making eye contact as Hunter got in safely. “It was all fun and games — even if he was going to throw me out, I was going to test him.”

“I realized how long his strides are and I realized I had no shot,” Braden said.

As a player, Braden is trying to establish himself, having debuted last year in 27 major league games. He knows what a major leaguer looks like, and he knows the skillset his brother brings.

“I’ll honestly put him up against anyone in the big leagues athletically,” said Braden, who cautioned Hunter is still raw. “Some unbelievable athletes, I think he stacks up right there.”

The two are as complimentary about each other’s games as they are about each other.

“Everything he does, he’s a special person,” Hunter said. “It’s a lot bigger than baseball.”

 

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