MILWAUKEE Milwaukee Brewers reliever Kameron Loe knew he could always count on hearing his grandfather's voice at his baseball games. From little league through his college days as a pitcher at Cal State-Northridge, Loe's grandfather Howard Pound would always be there, always delivering his typical cheer from within the crowd.
"Hubba, hubba!" Pound would yell from the stands. Loe still isn't exactly sure why he said that particular phrase Pound had explained to him that he learned it in the military as a sort of rallying cry but no matter what, Loe could count on hearing his grandfather's voice yelling from the stands, game in and game out.
And even as Pound grew older and Loe's baseball career took him from Texas to Japan and finally to Milwaukee each destination thousands of miles away from Pound, who lived in California his grandfather would still yell that same phrase at the television, doing his best to will Loe to a successful outing.
As Loe took the mound on Saturday against the Dodgers, though, he knew for the first time in his life that his grandfather wouldn't be in the stands or at home in front of the television to deliver that rallying cheer. At the age of 92, Pound had passed away in his bed the night before.
So Loe came out of the bullpen in the top of the 10th inning, with his grandfather in his heart and the game on the line. This one, he had decided, would be for Howard Pound.
His grandfather had given Loe so many things over the course of his life winning this game in his honor was the least he could do, he reasoned. After all, without the presence of Pound in his life, there's no telling whether Loe would've ever even made it to the mound.
For a boy who had spent much of his childhood without the influence of his father, Pound had been as much of a father as Loe had ever known. He had bought him every piece of sporting equipment he had ever owned, taken him camping and hiking and even enrolled Loe in his first baseball league at just 4 years old.
But for Loe, he was even more than that.
"He's the guy who taught me how to be a man," Loe said.
Baseball had not been Pound's first, or even second, sport. Those spots were reserved for football and basketball, both of which he became an All-American playing at Michigan State. He had even spent a season with the Detroit Lions before enlisting in World War II. But when his grandson was born and showed a love for baseball at a young age, dragging his mother to the yard in the early hours of the morning to throw a ball to him, Pound had found a new sport.
"He didn't really know a lot about baseball," Loe said. "He just loved watching me play."
And as Loe grew up, Pound never pushed him to try anything. He knew Loe had found his love in the game of baseball. He just had one requirement for his grandson: to always push himself to be the best.
"He was a perfectionist and he instilled that in me," Loe said. "He didn't care what I did, as long as I did it to the best of my ability."
So as the 10th inning began Thursday, Loe forced Dodgers infielder Adam Kennedy to ground out to second. And after allowing catcher A.J. Ellis to single to the outfield, he induced outfielder Juan Rivera into a double play, ending the inning and giving the Milwaukee offense a chance to win a chance it took advantage of with a Ryan Braun sac fly in the bottom of the inning. The win ensured the Brewers a series victory over the hottest team in baseball.
"That one was for my grandpa!" Loe tweeted after the game. "Howard E Pound. A real American hero! I know he was watching."
A week later, with the injury to pitcher Chris Narveson forcing fellow long relief pitcher Marco Estrada into the rotation, Loe will play an increasingly important role in the Brewers' bullpen from here on out.
And along with him on that journey will always be Pound, the grandfather who made him the man he is today. So at his funeral this weekend in California, Loe and a few others who had remembered Pound from the countless days he spent in the stands watching Loe play, decided to honor him in a way he, unlike any other, would have appreciated.
They gave him one last, "Hubba, hubba."
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