As Houston Astros outfielder Michael Brantley made his way down the third-base line ahead of the All-Star Game on Tuesday, he saw a familiar smiling face.

He quickly ran over and gave 82-year-old Munroe Falls resident Virginia White a hug.

She’d been missing those hugs since Brantley, who played with the Indians from 2009 to 2018, left Cleveland at the end of last season.

Every Tribe game she attended — about 50 or 60 a year, she said — she got a hug from Brantley near the end of the home team's dugout.

"He’s just lovely," White said. "I admire him."

They’ve been friends for years, she said, a friendship born out of baseball. Now she's become somewhat of a team grandma, she said.

"I think that's how they think of me," she said.

White and her husband traveled to spring training when the team played in Winterhaven, Florida, where she first met Brantley and several of the other players.

Giving her a hug before the game became a habit — one Brantley was happy to continue Tuesday.

"Any time I see her, I just get a good-luck hug," Brantley said, calling her a "very supportive fan" he has kept in touch with over the years.

He said he didn't know she would be there, but it was just another bonus of being named to an All-Star team for a game played in the same city he spent most of the last decade.

"It’s a big perk, to come play in front of these fans that supported me for 10 seasons," Brantley said. "It means the world to me and my family and I’m really happy to be here."

 

Contact Jennifer Pignolet at jpignolet@thebeaconjournal.com, at 330-996-3216 or on Twitter @JenPignolet.