Rhys Hoskins receives hero's welcome from Phillies fans in emotional return

It was an emotional night at Citizens Bank Park with the beloved former Phillie back at The Bank.
Former Philadelphia Phillie Rhys Hoskins visits Citizens Bank Park for the first time with the Milwaukee Brewers
Former Philadelphia Phillie Rhys Hoskins visits Citizens Bank Park for the first time with the Milwaukee Brewers / Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Before Monday, it had been a long time since we'd seen Rhys Hoskins playing in a baseball game at Citizens Bank Park. Not since November 3, 2022, Game 5 of the World Series, to be exact. The former Philadelphia Phillies slugger made his triumphant return to the place he called home for seven years on Monday night and was a thing to behold.

The Phillies fans in attendance for the series opener against Hoskins' new team, the Milwaukee Brewers, made sure the 31-year-old got the hero's welcome he deserved. There wasn't a dry eye in the place.

Rhys Hoskins receives hero's welcome from Phillies fans in emotional return

It began with fans applauding when his name was announced during the in-stadium lineup announcements. It continued with a glorious video tribute before the start of the second inning.

It culminated when Hoskins came to bat for the first time in the top of the second. He received the ovation you'd expect for a player who embodied the Phillies franchise and helped bring the team out from a dark period, turning them into a genuine playoff contender.

Hoskins took a moment to acknowledge the crowd, helmet raised high in the air as fans showered him with love and adoration. Hoskins then got to work against his former teammate Zack Wheeler, who won the first battle The Phillies starter induced Hoskins to pop out to shortstop Edmundo Sosa to end the inning.

When Hoskins was asked before the game what he expected his emotions to be, he told the throng of gathered media that he's a cryer. He had tears in his eyes.

Hoskins was last seen on the field on Oct. 3 last fall. Still a member of the Phillies at the time and trying desperately to return from a torn ACL in his knee, he threw out the first pitch before Game 1 of the NL Wild Card Series. Fans got to show their appreciation and love for him then, but it was different.

At the time, there was still a sliver of hope that the soon-to-be free agent would re-sign with the team that drafted him and helped him become the player and the man who stood before us all. But with superstar Bryce Harper taking over at first base, Hoskins' position, the writing was on the wall. He was expendable and found a new home in Milwaukee.

From 2017 through 2022, Hoskins hit .242 with an .846 OPS for the Phillies. He hit 148 home runs and drove in 405 runs in 667 games. He was always a positive WAR player because of his offense, posting an 11.2 fWAR over his six seasons on the field.

The moment he'll most likely be remembered for? His his famous bat spike during Game 3 of the 2022 NLDS against Spencer Strider and the Atlanta Braves.

Rob Thomson had no doubts about Hoskins' reception

Phillies manager Rob Thomson had no doubts about the reception Hoskins would receive on Monday.

"I think he's gonna get a tremendous reception even though he said that he's gonna get booed," Thomson said after Sunday's game. "I mean, he's a member of this community and everybody here knows how important he is and all the things he's done for the community and all the things he's done for this ball club ... He's a great teammate, a great guy. Um, he's a competitor. I just can't say enough good things about him."

Turning the page on his career as a Phillie, Hoskins was hoping that he'd get some closure from his return to Philadelphia as a member of the opposing team, as he told The Philadelphia Inquirer's David Murphy on Sunday.

“Yeah, it was tough to swallow,” Hoskins said before returning to Philly, per Murphy. “It still is tough to swallow. But hopefully I’ll get some closure from that perspective when I go back. I’ve seen the way those people and the fans of Philly react to people coming back who made an impact there. It’s special.”

The Phillies fans certainly made it special for Hoskins on Monday.