Miguel Cabrera was in a prickly mood, sitting in the corner of the Detroit Tigers‘ clubhouse.
He made it clear that he didn’t want to talk — he doesn’t grant interviews very often.
“I’m writing about Mother’s Day,” I said. “What does your mom mean to you?”
“Everything,” he said.
“What did you learn from her?” I asked.
“Everything,” he said, starting to soften.
As I started to walk away, he added one last thing: “Thank you for asking about my mother.”
His expression had changed.
I went around the Tigers clubhouse in Comerica Park, asking the players about their mothers; and they all got that same look. A faraway gaze. Like little kids. Filled with unmistakable love and appreciation.
Lost in the most amazing memories.
And as they told stories about their mothers, they started to reveal something deep about themselves.
“My relationship with my mom definitely changed in my freshman year of college when my dad passed away (from a heart attack), and my mom became a single parent,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “She uprooted and came out to Stanford and lived there to be near me. The one thing about baseball moms, the thing that is universal, is how much they give up for the sake of us in this sport.
“Moms are incredible, especially in baseball, because in reality, we throw our dirty uniforms at them, and we ask them to shuttle us everywhere. They’re the loudest fans in the stands, and they’re the ones that are there for the hug after oh-for-4. So their consistency matters.”
Never too high, never too low. Hmm. Sounds like he was describing himself. Guess we know where he got some of his traits.
Kerry Carpenter has a similar story.
His father died of liver cancer three years ago.
“Three years ago yesterday,” he said on Friday, standing in front of his locker. “It was an interesting day. My sister and mom were emotional and we talked. My mom is amazing. We got really close through that. She’s so strong. I just appreciate her love and support for me is unconditional. I love her so much. She means the world to me. She’s amazing.”
So many players said similar things about their moms.
They started gushing, describing everything their mothers had done, all the sacrifices they had made; and it was pretty dang cool.
Jake Rogers: “I just talked to her on the way here. She’s the most supportive mom ever. My dad was always hard on me, how to be a man, but my mom was always there supporting me and helping me through life. She was the one taking me to all this stuff, so I owe the world to her. She means a lot to me, and I hope she knows it. The phone calls are always the same. She vents to me about everything that’s going on and I vent to her. We’ve always had a great relationship.”
Spencer Torkelson: “She instilled in me the work ethic that you’re gonna have to work for everything you get. She’s probably the hardest working person I know. She’s an accountant along with my dad. Just to see her enjoy what she does and work as hard as she does, it kind of showed me from a really young age, if I put the extra work, I can do whatever I want to be, or be whatever I want to be.”
Jonathan Schoop: “She’s the one that brought me to this world, and I wouldn’t be here without her. I cannot pay her back for everything she’s done for me.”
Riley Greene: “Lisa Greene — she’s the Puerto Rican side of my family. She’s the best. Growing up, she was the school person and my dad was like the sports person. If I wasn’t doing good in school, she’d be like, ‘if I have to tell dad, he’s gonna kick your butt.’ I said, ‘OK, don’t tell dad, I’m gonna get on top of it.’ Yeah, she’s the best. I could say so much about her. Once I started getting older, once I got a girlfriend, she told me, ‘make sure you are a gentleman, hold the door open, bring flowers.’ She’s the best. She’s here (in Detroit right now). They come in and want to clean. I’m like, guys, I’m fine. Don’t clean my apartment. It’s not even dirty. They are like, no, we are gonna clean it. She’ll find a speck of dust on the ground, ‘oh, your apartment was so dirty.’ No it wasn’t. But she’s the best. Always there. No matter what.”
Mason Englert: “She was the first to sign me up for baseball, showed up for every game growing up. She’s one of the few voices I can hear in a game, if it’s quiet enough in the ballpark. In my first Double-A start, I could hear her and my sister screaming. She’s always been there for me.”
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Tyler Holton: “She would be at every game. She would take me to every practice, helped me even in the backyard, if I needed to play catch, or even do flips or soft toss. We had a cage at the house. My dad built the cage but she did everything that she could. I’m who I am today because of everything that both of my parents did. She’s always my first fan. She’s definitely the reason why I’m here.”
Tyler Alexander: “She raised three boys, and all three of us played three or four different sports at a time. So she managed to figure out a way to get us to every single sporting event, and I always viewed her as kind of Super Woman. I never understood how she did it. I spent a lot of time with her a lot of traveling around the country and I give her all the credit for the man I am today.”
Andy Ibáñez: “I’m blessed to have her with me. She lives with me in Miami. And I talk to her on the phone or FaceTime almost on a daily basis. I’m blessed to have her.”
Tarik Skubal: “She was willing to make any sacrifice for me and my brothers and our family growing up. So that’s the one thing that kind of sticks out. All the support. No matter how I did or what was going on, she’s always been there for me.”
Love her to death
Joey Wentz: “There’s probably no better person to thank for getting to the big leagues than her. She was loving but she was stern, too. You always knew where she stood with her. I love her to death.”
Alex Lange: “The work ethic she instilled in me, just giving me every opportunity in this game was pretty cool and just the love and support that’s constant no matter what, is awesome.”
Michael Lorenzen: “Now that I have a daughter of my own, just seeing how much sacrifice it takes to be a parent, being grateful for that part of the sacrifice of just raising me when I don’t remember anything about it, that part of it is eye opening. My mom has always been an extremely hard worker. She had four boys under her roof by herself trying to raise us, so I definitely got my work ethic from her. I would attribute my work ethic to her and grateful to have her as an example. She was a manager at a restaurant. Started out as a server or waitress, and then working your way up to then be becoming a manager. So it’s pretty cool. My daughter is six months old. Her name is June Elizabeth, and her middle name is named after my mom.”