Mark Budzinski remembers his daughter, Julia

Toronto Blue Jays first baseman coach Mark Budzinski shared a touching memory of his late daughter, Julia, before her first game with the team, reflecting on her competitive spirit and sarcastic wit.

“Fierce competitor, social butterfly, very strong faith. I loved being around people. And a sarcastic wit. She’s very sarcastic, which she got from me.” said Budzinskiwho was holding back tears ahead of Friday’s game against the Boston Red Sox.

Budzinski hadn’t been with the team since the July 2 boating accident that claimed his daughter’s life.

Julia was one of two girls who fell from a tube pulled behind a boat on the James River in Richmond, Va., that day, said Paige Pearson, spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources.

As the boat operator returned to pull the girls out of the water, the boat hit a wave, which pushed it over Budzinski and hit her with the propeller, Pearson said. The driver of the boat and the operator of another passing boat jumped into the water to try to save Budzinski, who was pronounced dead in a hospital.

Pearson said foul play was not suspected and alcohol was not a factor. “It was a terrible accident,” she said.

On July 3, the Blue Jays held a moment of silence in Julia’s honor, as did the Oakland Athletics as hosts of the July 4 visit to Toronto, and MLB teams and fans from baseball across Canada have shown an outpouring of support for the Budzinski family – something Mark Budzinski says “meant the world” to them.

“It’s just an amazing gift when you go through something like that,” he said. “It’s hard. But when so many people surround you with love, care and support, it means the world to us.”

With files from The Associated Press

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