'It inspires me': For Espada, family comes first

November 15th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Brian McTaggart’s Astros Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

HOUSTON -- The most emotional Joe Espada got during his introductory press conference as the Astros’ new manager on Monday was while talking about his family, which he did quite often. Joe’s wife, Pamela, and their daughters, 12-year-old Eliana and 8-year-old Viviana, sat in the front row and beamed with pride when Joe was officially named the 20th manager in club history.

At 48 years old, Joe has fulfilled his dream of becoming a Major League manager, taking over for the retired Dusty Baker. Filling the shoes of a legendary manager comes with enormous expectations, but nothing can match the responsibility Joe carries to make his family proud. He’s a family man first and serves as an inspiration to his daughters.

“I’m really happy for my dad because I always knew that he could be the manager, because he’s always doing his best and praying for me at nighttime that I’m awesome and I can do anything,” Viviana said Monday, clinging to the arm of her mother. “I feel like if he can do anything, I can do anything.”

Joe told his daughters just that while addressing the media during Monday’s press conference. It was a reminder of the grind of baseball life -- countless hours spent away from the family, moving from town to town. Joe, as the Astros' bench coach, won a World Series in 2022, but missed chances to become a manager through the years led to disappointment. His family’s belief in him remained strong.

“I have missed a lot -- a lot of gymnastics and dance recitals -- and it's tough,” Joe said. “When you try to win games, and you try to be a dad and a husband, it's really tough. But it’s worked.”

Pamela, who married Joe in 2009 when he was the infield coordinator for the Marlins, gave up her job as a pharmacist to be a stay-at-home mom while Joe grinded through his career. It was Pamela who took the girls to and from school on many days while he was on the road.

“We just kind of had to believe that we were going to be put in the right situation and that everything happened for a reason, because multiple times it was him and someone else [and he didn’t get the job],” she said. “Obviously, it was disappointing, but we just kind of went [through] it. … It was going to happen for a reason, and here we are.”

Pamela is the sister of Lisa Hyde, the wife of Orioles manager Brandon Hyde. Brandon and Lisa married in 2006, and Joe would often stay at Hyde’s house in Florida while he worked with the Marlins, which is how he ended up meeting Pamela. Now, the Espadas have two daughters and are grateful to be able to put down some roots in Houston.

“Being a girl dad is the best responsibility that a man can ask for, at least in my opinion,” Joe said. “My girls are special. … My wife gave up her career to stay home with my girls. I value that. We have a bunch of guys in that clubhouse that are the same way, and that’s what makes the team so special, is their heart, their commitment to one another, how much they care for the city. It’s the little things that make it worth waiting [for], and getting this job in Houston.”

Viviana said her dad is an inspiration with how far he’s come in his life.

“It inspires me to achieve my dream, and you can do anything you put your mind to,” she said. “I’m really happy for him.”

Joe frequently checks in via FaceTime with his daughters before games, allowing him to connect with home even though he’s hundreds of miles away. Joe’s heart remains at home, and that home will be in Houston for the foreseeable future.

“Girls, I know how much this means to you,” he told his daughters on Monday. “And I want to share something with you. You remember when we always go to school, and Daddy tells you guys about doing your best, working hard and follow your dreams? Well, Daddy is living his dream.”