This was one of the best home stands I can remember – and only in part because we went 5-1.
We were coming off a terrible road trip to San Diego and Seattle. We couldn’t score any runs for our pitchers. Then we came home and swept Atlanta and took two of three from St. Louis – and as a bonus we had a rare day off at home on Thursday.
And as an added added bonus for me, it so happened that St. Louis was flying in on our off day. Not only was I going to get to see my little brother Yadier, who is the starting catcher for the Cardinals, but he was bringing his wife, Wanda, and their 8-month old son, Yanuel, with him.
Jamie and I drove into the city around midday on Thursday to pick them up at the Ritz Carlton, the Cardinals’ hotel, to take them around the city and then back to our house in Lafayette for the night. We pulled up to the front of the building, where Yadier, Wanda and Yanuel were waiting. Then who should emerge from the door but my mother! I couldn’t believe it. I just hugged and hugged her. Yadier had flown her in from Puerto Rico to surprise me. He knew I was going through a down time with my hitting – and with the disappointment of hearing boos for the first time from our home fans — and wanted to cheer me up. It worked. I couldn’t have asked for a better gift.
From the hotel, we piled in the car and went for lunch at Fruitlandia, the Puerto Rican restaurant I love so much. Afterward, Jamie and I took the crew to Fisherman’s Wharf to see the seals and we drove down the crooked part of Lombard Street. That night, we just chilled at our house. Yadier and I love music so we spent some time sharing songs on our laptops and Ipods.
We had lunch Friday at McCovey’s restaurant in Walnut Creek, another favorite of mine, then Yadier and I drove to the ballpark together.
When I got hit by a pitch in Friday’s game, and ended up face down on the ground, my family was just arriving at the park. Jamie told me later that my mother looked at me on the ground and Yadier bent over me and said, “He better help him up!” Yadier kept asking if I was OK.
“I’m fine, but it might slow me down on the bases,” I said, cracking Yadier up.
Jamie told me she had never seen my mother as happy or enthusiastic as she was watching Yadier and me play on the same field. She was just screaming and cheering both of us. My daughters were also there Friday night. Jamie picked them up at the airport in the late afternoon, and they were so happy to see their grandmother. After the game, all of us went to Mel’s Drive-In on Lombard because it’s open late. Then Jamie and I dropped Yadier and his family and my mother and daughters at the hotel. My mother was staying in the hotel that night, and my daughters always sleep with her whenever they’re together. They adore her and, because they don’t see her as often as they would like, they spend every minute with her that they can.
It was tough to say goodbye to my mother and brother on Sunday. I miss them so much. And I’m so proud of how Yadier has matured into such a wonderful man. He’s a great dad and a great son to our mother.
On another note, I realized recently that there was one big thing I forgot to tell you.
In February, during spring training, Jamie and I got married in Scottsdale. It was a small, beautiful ceremony at sunset in a little park. We’ve been together so long – we’ve known each other 10 years – that I already thought of Jamie as my wife. I can’t imagine my life without her. Maybe that’s why I didn’t think to write about the wedding. We had been married in my mind for a long time already.