Ex-teammate Tellez helps Jansen tie the knot

March 25th, 2022

It’s been a couple of years since Danny Jansen popped the question, and Rowdy Tellez still wonders whether his friend was joking.

It was before Tellez was traded from the Blue Jays to the Brewers in 2021, and prior to the pandemic in 2020, when his best friend in baseball -- “My brother,” Tellez says -- told Tellez he’d gotten engaged to his girlfriend, Alexis Vrabel. While they all talked, Jansen asked the question so flippantly that Tellez thinks it might have been in jest.

“Do you want to be the officiant?” Jansen said.

Without a moment’s hesitation, Tellez said yes.

“They were like, ‘Really?’ Tellez said. “I said, ‘Yeah, let’s do it. I would love to.’”

That’s how Tellez came to be standing before Danny and Alexis and their families in Florida this past offseason, marrying two of his dearest friends.

It was the least Tellez could do. The Jansen family of Appleton, Wis., came into Tellez’s life when he needed them most, sometime after Danny and Rowdy were both drafted by the Blue Jays in 2013. Jansen was a 16th-round pick out of Appleton West High School, and Tellez was an above-slot sign in the 30th round out of Elk Grove (Calif.) High School. They rose together through the Minor Leagues with stops from Dunedin, Fla., to Lansing, Mich., to Buffalo, N.Y.

The Jansen family became even more important to Tellez after his mother, Lori, was diagnosed with melanoma in 2016, and later with terminal brain cancer. She passed away on Aug. 19, 2018 -- two weeks before Tellez made his Major League debut -- batting just after Jansen -- and knocked a pinch-hit double in his first career plate appearance. Tellez hit three doubles the next night, and two more the night after that.

Flash forward to July 2021. When Toronto traded Tellez to Milwaukee, the Jansens made the 90-minute drive to Milwaukee to see Tellez’s first game at American Family Field with the Brewers.

“My family couldn’t make it out very often while my mom was sick, so [Jansen’s] family became my family,” Tellez said. “His family kind of adopted me. They are absolutely the best. They are great people. We became really close really quick.

“It was really special to have another player and his family in my corner when I needed it.”

Tellez remembers a time when he and Danny played in A-ball, and Danny’s family was in Danville, Va., to see them play. Tellez, who’d received a big signing bonus in the Draft and could afford it, tried to pay for dinner at a wing joint. Steve Jansen, Danny’s father, grabbed his credit card and flung it clear across the restaurant. Tellez, 6-foot-4 and 255 pounds, had to go crawl on the floor to find it.

Tellez let Steve Jansen pay, but made him promise that when Tellez made it to the Majors, he’d get to pick up the tab. That eventually came to pass, and the group dined at a restaurant better than a wing joint.

“I’ve never had a brother. Danny, he is my brother,” Tellez said. “Watching him smile, watching the way he went about his wedding day, I cried as much as he did. He’s such a good dude, just a genuine person.

“So, when he asked me [to officiate], whether they were joking or not, I was like, ‘Yeah, this is going to be fun.”

Tellez wrote a speech with humor, but not too much, and sentimentality, but not too much -- mostly because he knew he would be sobbing. He wrote 16 pages, then transferred it all to his iPad because he worried his tears might fall onto the paper and smudge his speech.

“His dad cheated and put sunglasses on right at the start of the wedding,” Tellez said. “I was really hoping to see Steve-O cry. But I had everybody going. I got some laughs in. I bawled my eyes out. I had the time of my life.”

“Rowdy Tellez did an unbelievable job,” Jansen said. “I’ll tell you, that is not an easy task. When I asked him, he was like, ‘Yeah, of course I’ll do it.’ We eloped in 2020 and then we had the ceremony last year. It was a cool thing. That guy put in the preparation and he did an awesome job.”

Jansen requested some dad jokes and Tellez came through, closing with, “By the power vested in me by ‘I’m a minister dot com’ and the $49 I paid...”

With that, he pronounced Danny and Alexis husband and wife.

“Rowdy had me in tears, and he was in tears,” Danny Jansen said. “He absolutely crushed it.”

Tellez looked good, too. He was decked out in a black suit and matching hat.

“I knew he was going to come in looking dapper,” Jansen said.

They hope to see each other during the season. The Blue Jays travel to Milwaukee for a weekend in late June, and Tellez’s father plans to fly in from California to stay with the Jansens and celebrate Danny’s homecoming.

“His happiness is my happiness,” Tellez said.