Brantly family shares special moment with Sox

Father, son emotional after elder Brantly named Hero of the Game

Brantly family shares special moment with Sox

CHICAGO -- Master sergeant Robert Stuart Brantly will officially retire from the United States Air Force on Tuesday after 37 years of service.

He also celebrated his 56th birthday on Monday night, and thanks to the White Sox and his son, Rob, a catcher for the team, the elder Brantly will never forget either moment.

Brantly was honored as the "Hero of the Game" during the White Sox 4-2 victory over the Angels at Guaranteed Rate Field, rightfully receiving a standing ovation from those in attendance. That applause was memorable but not quite as meaningful as when his son walked on the field, presented him with a signed bat and hugged his dad for all he had done for this country as well as his family.

"To be able to do something like that for him and to finish off his career, his first day of retirement, tipping his cap to a Major League Baseball crowd giving him a standing ovation, it was a special moment for him and our family," said the younger Brantly. "I was glad I was able to be there to share that with him."

"It was a complete surprise to me," the elder Brantly said. "To be out there on that field with my son was everything to me after my career with the military and being away from him on a lot of occasions. Just thinking about it out there, it all came to a head right there, and to be on this field with this storied franchise, the White Sox, meant the world to me."

In his second big league stint with the White Sox, separated by the 2016 season, Brantly is hitting .238 in 21 at-bats. He's also an outgoing clubhouse presence, with much of what he knows in the baseball world beginning from his dad's tutelage.

His dad, in turn, praised his son for the hard work he puts in on a daily basis.

"When I saw my son come out of that dugout, and knowing how hard he works -- he works harder than anybody I know -- to see it culminate there on the field like that and be on the field with him and to hold him, it just brought out all my emotion at that moment," said the elder Brantly, fighting back tears as he spoke. "I can't say anything else but the gratitude I have for my son. I love him so much, he's a wonderful young man, and I'm glad he's with this organization because they treat him very good."

The Brantlys live just minutes from each other, which comes in handy since the younger Brantly and his wife have a 14-month old daughter, Layla. He's trying to give the same kind of great life to her his dad helped give to him.

"That moment hit, and it was emotional for both of us when I got to give him the hug on the field," the younger Brantly said. "He would tell me he puts on that uniform every day so I don't have to. It carries a lot of weight. If I can be half the man he was, then I feel like I would do a great job."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.