Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correctly attribute the name of Amanda Garcia.
CHULA VISTA, Calif. – Some fans sitting in the Park View Little League bleachers Tuesday may have been hoping to see a home run. What they ultimately got was a heartfelt homecoming.
For 10-year-old Adonis Garcia, the game started like any other with the playing of the national anthem. But then, the team’s coaches asked players to turn toward their parents, at which point Garcia was greeted by his father, Navy corpsman Juan Garcia, who’d been away six months.
Garcia said standing behind his son was nerve-racking.
“Standing behind him and wanting to grab him, that’s kind of a hard feeling to hold back,” he said, smiling.
Adonis Garcia explained what was going through his mind before he realized his dad was home.
“I saw him, but I thought it was the other kid’s dad so I was like, ‘Oh, it’s his dad,'” Adonis said. “When my coach said we had a special guest, I was like, ‘Oh, yay.'”
His 11-year-old sister was just as surprised. She couldn’t believe her eyes and ran to her dad.
Garcia hadn’t seen his family since November because he had to quarantine ahead of a December deployment with the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group.
“We spent time preparing to be able to carry out the defense of our nation and not being able to hold them, to tell them goodbye,” he said. “That was hard.”
While his wife Amanda tackled parenting alone amid a pandemic, she also was trying to keep this special secret.
“It’s been stressful,” she said, laughing, “just having anxiety trying to keep it from them, but wanting to tell them at the same time.”
Even more surprising than the reunion with his father: Adonis couldn’t believe his mom kept it all quiet.
“I didn’t even know she could keep secrets,” he said. “I never knew she could keep secrets until now.”