Renfroe seals sweep on first Father's Day without dad

Outfielder homers in each game of series; lost 'best friend' to cancer last August

June 19th, 2022

CINCINNATI -- looked like a pretty good prospect from a young age. When it came time to play travel ball in Mississippi and beyond, his father faced a choice.

"Hotel rooms are expensive," Todd Renfroe told’s A.J. Cassavell five years ago this week. "Food is expensive. We were going to go out of town every weekend. So you either go broke buying food and hotel rooms, or you buy a camper."

The Renfroes bought a camper.

They traveled from tournament to tournament in a 2003 Cherokee Fifth Wheel, solidifying their bond along with Hunter’s prospect status. The Padres made him the 14th overall Draft pick in 2014 and a big leaguer two years later. In 2020, Renfroe played in a World Series with the Rays. The camper remained in the family the whole time.

Late last August, Todd Renfroe succumbed to cancer following a four-year battle. On Sunday afternoon at Great American Ball Park, Hunter Renfroe played his first Father’s Day game without his dad and homered for the third straight day, a 444-foot two-run shot that helped the Brewers seal a sweep of the Reds with a 6-3 win.

Renfroe said he couldn’t talk about his dad as the team prepared to head home.

After an emotional day, it was too much.

“I wouldn’t be able to hold that,” he said.

But he did tell to go ahead and share the story of his relationship with his father, one of the hundreds of baseball dads who were on the minds of players across the Majors on Sunday.

On the day he buried his dad -- Aug. 28, 2021 -- Hunter described him as “my best friend.”

“Me being an only child, he was always there pitching to me, working with me at the field," Hunter told on Father’s Day in 2017. "It was always fun to be with him, doing all that traveling, being with him the whole time. He's always been my best friend since."

After his dad passed, Hunter wrote on Instagram, “He now has the best seat in the house to watch me achieve all my dreams.”

For Renfroe and the Brewers, that means the World Series, and taking three in a row from the last-place Reds and four of the last five games overall was a good start on the heels of losing 10 of 12. The schedule hasn’t helped; 29 of the Brewers’ last 42 games have been away from home due to three consecutive three-city road trips. The Brewers have played 68 of their 162 games, and already half of their road slate is in the books.

“To come here and get a sweep, they are much needed wins for sure,” Renfroe said. “We had some tough losses in New York; we played our hearts out over there and we played some good baseball. The guys pitched well, we just didn’t come out on the winning end there. Today we came out swinging the bats really well, [Adrian] Houser pitched well and our bullpen has been phenomenal.

“As long as those guys keep doing that, we’re going to give them some runs and we’re going to do well.”

Renfroe has indeed helped provide some runs. He was just getting hot when he strained his right hamstring scoring from first base in San Diego on May 23 and missed 14 games. In 12 games since, he’s 9-for-45 (.200), but he walked three times in Wednesday’s win at the Mets, collected two hits and an RBI in Thursday’s finale and then hit home runs in all three of the Brewers’ wins in Cincinnati.

“I think it’s awesome, especially because he was starting to pick it up before his hamstring went,” said Houser, who surrendered a 3-0 lead in the fourth then bounced back to get through the sixth to keep the bullpen in order. “Seeing him be able to take a couple games and get back into a groove is really good. Hopefully it will start a fire in the offense. They’ve been swinging the bat great here the last few days and hopefully that keeps going.”

Did the three-walk game against the Mets help lock Renfroe in?

“I saw the ball well in New York,” he said. “Those guys, they pitched me different. I don’t know how to say that. But I saw the ball well and laid off some good pitches being thrown and took my hits when I could. As far as locking me in, I felt like I was pretty good the past few games.”

Renfroe will try to keep it going at home. The Brewers and Cardinals have identical 38-30 records atop the National League Central heading into a four-game series that starts Monday night at American Family Field.

“Look, we had a tough start to this trip and finished it really strong,” manager Craig Counsell said. “I like that. We’re banged up still, especially on the pitching staff. It looks like we’ve got some guys coming back so that’s good, but the schedule is the schedule. It’s always difficult.

“We’ve got a difficult homestand with two good baseball teams [the Cardinals and Blue Jays]. There’s no breaks in the schedule. It always challenges you.”