ARLINGTON -- The ceremonial part of the Texas Rangers' opening day and home opener against the Angels was emotional as the family of a child slain in the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut took the mound.
As the Rangers introduced the team, a family stood to the side with a lineup that can never be complete again. Robbie and Alissa Parker waited with daughters Madeline and Samantha, ready to remember daughter Emilie.
"[W]hat she was able to do in my life, and change the way that I look at the world, and the way that my wife and I behave with each other and towards other people -- I want to make sure that she continues to inspire other people to do that," Robbie Parker said, describing how his oldest daughter changed his life.
Emilie, 6, died in the Newtown, Connecticut shootings. But in her brief life, she followed her father's love for the Rangers, which he learned as a young boy living in Arlington.
She even got a David Murphy home run ball during warm ups before a Rangers game in Boston last year. And Murphy was with the family as they took the field.
Parker threw a strong one to former all star catcher Pudge Rodriguez. And then, there was emotion on the mound rarely seen, as Parker and Rodriguez hugged and tears flowed.
"He just said that your daughter is being a great example to so many people, and he just pointed to the crowd and said all these people are here for you and they're here because of her," Parker later told reporters.
For a family that bears the weight of tragedy, Parker said this was their way to say thanks for the support.
"To go from the darkest moment that you ever imagine yourself being in, and being overwhelmed with love and support, really does help you get out of that hole," he said.
There on the field, there was no darkness. There was only light, forever remembering a child's bright smile.