Jeffrey Crews of suburban Dayton was in the stands July 2, the day Bailey pitched a no-hitter against San Francisco. Two days later, Crews died at home of brain cancer at 62.
His wife, Colleen, said Tuesday her husband decided to spend his last weeks with family and friends rather than undergo treatment after getting a bleak prognosis last month. A family friend reached out to someone who knew Votto as Crews was making plans to go to the game with his wife, their three children and daughter-in-law.
The result was field-level seats and field passes for batting practice for the whole family. The Reds' star chatted, then suggested Crews pose for pictures with him. Votto gave him an autographed bat.
"We've always been a fan of his and he didn't have to do all that," Colleen Crews said. "He just couldn't have been more of a gentleman, very humble. Just so nice."
The family posted a photo of Crews and Votto on a blog they kept to chronicle his final days.
Votto, voted by fans to be the National League starting All-Star first baseman, was in Milwaukee for the Reds' Tuesday night game against the Brewers and wasn't available immediately for comment.
The family said in the blog that Reds manager Dusty Baker and infielder Todd Frazier had also come over for autographs and photos.
The Crews family then settled into their seats to watch Bailey throw his second no-hitter. Collen said they learned later that their friends could see them on TV cheering in the stands.
She said Crews, a lifelong fan who considered one of his personal sports highlights playing Dayton youth baseball against Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt, was delighted.
"It was such a blessing and unbelievable," she said.
A memorial service followed by a celebration of Crews' life is planned for Wednesday in Centerville.