In honor of all the moms who grace the Philadelphia Phillie minor league landscape, this one's for you!
Trust me, there is no baseball fan that loves a player more than his mother. Through thick or thin, boom or bust, slug or slump, dear old mom is there every step of the way. Convinced that her son is merely one hit, or one victory away from the big leagues, a mother of a minor league athlete plays a more than inconsequential role in the success of her son. I know, as mom was the first person I phoned whenever I had played a particularly memorable… or forgettable, game.
To honor all the moms on this most special day, Mother's Day, I will endeavor to acknowledge as many Phillie farmhands as can be accommodated on the page of a PhillyBaseballNews article. I also apologize for missing out on many, it is not because you are not appreciated or loved by your son on this day, but merely because time and space commands that I be succinct… and somewhat brief. Yet, please know that this article speaks to, and of you, regardless of whether or not your son is mentioned by name.
With an overall organization
record of 45-67, many baseball experts would propose that the Phillie minor
league system is in some need of repair.
Whether or not this is the case will be left for another day. What I know
is that many mothers were thrilled this week at the mere mention of their son,
and the performances they gave. Let
us endeavor to mention a few of the more popular ones.
Of course, the ultimate reward
for a mother is to see her son reach the pinnacle of success, the major
leagues. Two mothers must be
beaming with pride as both the young and the old were rewarded in the past few
days with the promotions of second baseman Chase Utley and lefty reliever, Jim Crowell to Philadelphia.
For the youngish Utley, this
return engagement offers an opportunity to stop the roller coaster ride that has
seemingly made his life a Scranton to Philadelphia and back endeavor for the
past few years. Chances are that
the sweet swinging Utley is in Philly to stay, and good for him… and his
mother. And speaking of proud moms,
none could have shed more tears than Jim Crowell's mother, as none could have
possibly understood more the pitfalls this man has been through to get back to
the big leagues.
From Cincinnati to the Independent Leagues, and all points in between, Crowell is a living testament to the spirit of the minor league player, and the mother who supports his every move. Congratulations to both Chase and Jim… not to mention the proud moms who remember every hit, miss, strike out and walk.
Both players were brought up from SWB and some of the players they leave behind had solid weeks also. Players like Mark Budzinski, Lou Collier, Michel Hernandez, Clay Condrey, Greg Kubes, Josh Hancock, Brian Powell and Geoff Geary all should see their names in lights for at least one day… compliments of the mother's who know what each player is feeling, be he grizzled veteran or raw rookie.
Reading had a tough week victory-wise, but the mothers of players like Jim Deschaine, Ryan Howard, Kurt Keene, Scott Youngbauer, Gavin Floyd, Eude Brito, Keith Bucktrot, Yoel Hernandez, Spike Lundberg, Frankie Perez and Brian Sanches remember little about the team's scores. Yet they could recite by memory the two strike pitch that Howard hit for a home run, or the beautiful curveball thrown by Floyd or Bucktrot to end an inning.
Yes, moms, these are the things you remember, the thrill of watching your son live a dream, and share the dream with you. For this feeling, this Mother's Day is for you!
The mention of the Phillie
affiliate in Clearwater generally evokes the memory of only one person, Manager
Mike Schmidt, he of the status as greatest third baseman of all time. Yet talk to a mother about Clearwater,
and she will talk only of her son, be he Ryan Barthelemy, Kevin Burford or Trent
Begin a conversation with a Clearwater mom, and she only has eyes for her #1, be it Nick Tempesta, Francisco Butto, Layne Dawson or Elizardo Ramirez. Although Tulane has a solid and rich collegiate baseball tradition, two moms find this irrelevant. Yet talk of two alumni currently at Clearwater, either Nick Bourgeois or Beau Richardson, and they radiate with maternal pride. In their eyes, the only Tulane player that matters is their own.
Finally, let's venture down to Lakewood, the scene of the Phils lowest full season A league team. Although blessed with solid young talent, this club continues to struggle in the won-lost column. Yet don't talk failure to the mothers of Jake Blalock, Bryan Hansen or Marc Tugwell. They may remember little of the team's latest failings, but will remember well the two home runs Jake hit, or the solid beginning for Bryan, or the organization best .322 average for Marc.
Yes, my friends, these are the
names that matter most to mom, the names of the sons they drove to Little League
games. The boys who cried after
striking out, and anguished after being drafted too low… or not at all. Names like Michael Bourn, Chico Cortez,
Javon Moran, Nate Cabrera, Kyle Kendrick, Scott Mathieson, Paco Reyes, Cory
Schultz, Joe Wilson, Kyle Parcus and CJ Woodrow.
These names have meaning,
especially to the mothers who helped raise them. And every name mentioned will honor
their mom on this special day just by doing what they do best, competing in the
world of professional baseball.
Let us not forget the mothers of the injured. Perhaps they suffer more than most because of the uncertainly an injury carries to the future career of a player, their son. Names like Kiel Fisher, Darren Naatjes, Juan Richardson, Terry Jones, Zack Segovia and Lee Gwaltney are too vast, yet too important to ever forget. Mom won't forget them…and we won't forget their moms.
Perhaps even more poignant is
the mom who well may be spending a bittersweet Mother's Day. These are the moms who possibly have an
unexpected guest, their own sons visiting on this day. Yes, these are the mothers of players
recently released, athletes generally gone from April to September. Yet, because of the very cruelty of a
game meant to cause failure, they well may be home for the first time, on
Mother's Day, since high school.
Names like Alex Borgo, Jack Headley, Taft Cable and Andy Jarvis. These players had dreams, known well by mom. And though their baseball dreams may be at an end, perhaps a new dream is arising this very day. Be they visions of grandeur, or just grand visions, one thing is almost certain to happen.
Moms everywhere will live that dream along with their sons, no matter how large, or how small. That's just what moms do. And that's why we love and honor them so.
Speaking on behalf of Philadelphia Phillie minor leaguers everywhere, here is wishing you, dear Moms, a very Healthy and Happy Mothers Day!
Columnist's Note: Please feel free to offer any comments or suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks! Allen Ariza aka CD from the Left Coast