Boys to Men
My 21-year-old brother Gregsman is flying in from Venezuela and will be here for the next home stand. He’s never been to San Francisco. Somebody asked me what is the one thing I want to make sure he sees in San Francisco, and I said, “The ballpark!’’
He is not going to believe this park. How beautiful it is, yes, but mostly he’s not going to believe the crowd. He’s seen me play in Atlanta and Kansas City, but I told him, “Those aren’t the same as here.’’ He’s going to feel he’s back in Venezuela. The fans here get excited like the crowds at home. So I know he’s going to love it. I’ll take him to eat at Benihana in Japantown and the Spanish restaurant Zarzuela on Hyde Street. I’ll make sure he sees the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Bridge. Everything. There’s so much to see, and he has 12 days, so he’ll get a good look around.
It will mean a lot to me to have him here. Every time I get a hit or make a play, he’s going to feel proud. And that makes me feel proud. But he better not show up without Cocosette and Torontos. They are the best candies in the world. Cocosette is a wafer with coconut cream and Torontos are small balls of chocolate with hazelnut. I’ve never seen them anywhere but Venezuela. So I’m counting on him to come through.
My two-year-old son, also named Gregor, has been coming to the park most days recently. His babysitter brings him as early as 4 in the afternoon, and Gregor will sit with her in the stands by the dugout and watch batting practice. (My wife is busy at home and arrives closer to game time.) He’s really calm and comfortable at the park. He never cries and hardly ever gets cranky. There’s a canvas tarp – maybe six or seven feet long — stretched from the railing on the field to the railing by the first row of seats. During BP the other day, Pablo and I were rolling a ball to Gregor and he was rolling it back, just having the greatest time. At home, he always has a ball and bat and wants me to play with him. I love teaching him and watching him have so much fun.
Every now and then, I’ll bring Gregor into the clubhouse. He’ll just jump on the guys. They play around with him, and he loves it. His favorite player is probably Pablo because he’s so much like a kid himself.
It’s been interesting watching Gregor learn to talk. He doesn’t talk a lot yet, and I think it’s because he’s a little confused about the languages. He listens to us in Spanish and to the TV in English. So he mixes up all the words. He sings Happy Birthday in English but not in Spanish. When he counts, he starts in Spanish and finishes in English. He’ll go, “One, two, three, quatro, five, seis.’’ I’m sure he’ll work it all out and become really comfortable in both languages. I wish I had learned English when I was young. It’s so much easier than trying to pick it up as an adult.
Yesterday against the Braves, we weren’t able to rally back like we often do. I don’t know why we have so many one-run games, and why we seem to win so many of them. I think it’s because we’re pretty much like little kids. You know how when little kids start playing baseball and cry when they lose? That’s us. We don’t like to lose. Sometimes it seems like we wait until the last moment, until our backs are against the wall, and we say, “We’re about to lose this game and then we’re going to cry.’’ Then we say, “OK, come on, we have to win so everybody will be happy in the clubhouse and listening to music and dancing.’’
See? You think we’re grown up. But no matter how old you are or how long you’ve been in the big leagues, when you play a boy’s game for a living, some of that boy stays with you forever.