Must-read: Lorenzen’s first career home run was a tribute to his late father

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Reds’ reliever Michael Lorenzen hit his first career home run two days after his father died. An extraordinary feat for most pitchers was made even more poignant under unusual and heartbreaking circumstances; as Lorenzen told MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon, he had difficulty taking his place at the plate during the seventh inning of the Reds’ 9-2 finish. “Even after the third out of my first inning I threw, I had to go back into the bathroom because I broke down,” Lorenzen said. “There were some teammates back there that were able to help me out. I was able to go out and hit.”

It was a healing moment for Lorenzen and a touching one for those in attendance at Great American Ball Park, who later asked for a curtain call from the right-hander as he exited the game in the eighth. But the home run tribute also recalled Lorenzen’s complicated relationship with his father, one that the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Zach Buchanan explored in depth this weekend.

Buchanan describes the tumultuous childhood that Lorezen and his older brother, Jonathan, experienced in the mid-1990s. There were car rides to youth baseball games, during which their father, Clif, would drink and drive. There were domestic disputes between their parents and, later, charges of grand theft and forgery that convinced Clif to abandon his family in 2004. Both Michael and Jonathan struggled to find some equilibrium after the departure of their father, struggles that culminated for Jonathan when he was charged with “lewd and lascivious battery of a minor” after allegedly having sexual intercourse with a 15-year-old girl at the Dodgers’ spring training dorms.

The turnaround, Buchanan notes, arrived with Lorenzen’s newfound faith in God. Faith was the catalyst that spurred Lorenzen to reconcile with his father in the years before Clif’s death. Now, he believes that his home run gave some purpose to his father’s passing and inspiration to thousands who found themselves in similar situations.

You can read Buchanan’s piece, “In the Name of the Father,” in full here. It’s a heart-wrenching, beautifully-told story that captures the breadth and importance of forgiveness under the most difficult of circumstances.