'Special' day for Bishop brothers in first meeting

February 28th, 2020

PEORIA, Ariz. -- When  received the Giants’ lineup for their scheduled game against the Mariners on Thursday, he immediately forwarded it to his brother, .

“No way, I’m actually playing today,” Hunter wrote.

Braden, who was ranked the Mariners’ No. 14 prospect last year by MLB Pipeline, was already slated to start in center field for Seattle. The Giants decided to throw the family a “curveball” by calling up Hunter, ranked as this year's No. 71 overall prospect, from Minor League camp and bringing him along for Thursday's game as a reserve outfielder.

The confluence of events led to an emotional day for the Bishop brothers, who competed against each other on a baseball field for the first time in their lives in the Giants’ 5-4 win over the Mariners at Peoria Sports Complex.

“Pretty special,” Hunter, 21, said. “Kind of surreal. I still don’t really believe it happened yet. Just got to process it a little bit. But pretty cool.”

Braden is five years older than Hunter, meaning the Bay Area natives always missed each other by a year in high school and college. They relished their long-awaited matchup on the diamond on Thursday, meeting on the field before the game and posing for pictures. There was a bit of trash talking, too.

“I told him I’m getting a hit and he ain’t,” Hunter said. “Look what happened.”

Sure enough, Braden went 0-for-2 with a walk, while Hunter finished 1-for-2 after entering the game to replace Mike Yastrzemski in center field in the fifth inning.

They shared a memorable moment in the seventh after Hunter recorded a one-out single and then stole second. When he saw the catcher’s throw sail into center field, Hunter immediately took off for third. Braden fielded the ball and prepared to throw to third, but he held off after realizing he had no shot at nabbing his speedy little brother.

“He got to that point where it was a little too far to make the throw,” Braden said. “I should have just thrown it anyway to see what happened. Once I saw him go I was thinking, ‘Dang, I have to make a perfect throw to get him.' I let him have that one.”

Added Hunter: “I was shaking the finger at him, no. He couldn’t get me. It was just all fun and games. Even if he was going to throw me out, I was going to test him.”

A third-round pick by the Mariners out of the University of Washington in 2015, Braden reached the Majors last season, going 6-for-56 (.107) over 27 games. It shouldn’t be too long before he’s joined in the big leagues by Hunter, a former Arizona State standout who was selected by the Giants with the 10th overall pick in last year’s MLB Draft. Hunter finished last season at Class A Salem-Keizer and currently has an ETA of 2022, but the Giants haven’t been afraid to aggressively promote their top prospects, so he could always accelerate that timeline.

“He’s got a super bright future, probably brighter than mine was coming up, just in the situation he’s in and the kind of player he is,” Braden said. “I think he’s going to be really special. He’s so new to the game of baseball and doesn’t have any bad habits, which is good. I think it’ll play for him as he gets older.”

The brothers are trying to make their impact felt off the field, too. When their mom, Suzy, was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s six years ago, Braden started a charity called 4MOM. Since then, he has raised a considerable amount of money for Alzheimer’s research.

Suzy lost her battle with Alzheimer’s in October, but the brothers remain committed to honoring her memory by staying active in their charitable efforts. Braden announced that he would be starting the Suzy Bishop Memorial Grant, to be awarded annually to a family affected by Alzheimer’s. The brothers are also teaming up to host their second annual TopGolf4MOM event in Scottsdale on March 8, with all proceeds going toward their foundation.

“Honestly, it’s special at this point, just with our mom passing away and us getting to be on a Major League Spring Training field together,” Braden said. “It’s special. Our story, the last six months, has been extreme highs and extreme lows. Then to have it culminate here today, I could feel her. When he was hitting, I could feel her. It’s special. It’s special.”

“He’s my idol,” Hunter said. “Everything he does, he’s a special person. Even off the field, it’s a lot bigger than baseball. He’s a special person. I look up to him in every part of life.”