'This is the best': Amaya makes dreams come true

Dad, brother in attendance for impressive MLB debut on special Father's Day

June 18th, 2023

WASHINGTON -- credits his dad, Robert, for molding him into the baseball player he became. As early as age 6, Jacob can remember Robert hitting him ground balls he’d field without a glove at his dad’s direction, to sharpen his skills, instincts and toughness. Jacob would take balls off the chest and he split nails plucking others off the California dirt. The workouts were family affairs, involving not just father and son, but Jacob’s grandfather and brother as well, baseball the bedrock of their connection.

Those formative memories came rushing back to Amaya on Sunday afternoon in the nation’s capital, while he spent his MLB debut doing a little bit of everything in the Marlins’ 4-2 win over the Nationals. With his dad and brother in the stands, Amaya collected his first MLB hit, run, RBI and stolen base as Jesús Luzardo fired six innings of two-run ball to help Miami secure a tidy three-game sweep. With their 16th victory in 21 games, the surging Marlins moved 10 games over .500 (41-31) for the first time since May 29, 2011.

“That's the culture we're trying to set: coming in expecting to win, and hopefully have [those] expectations every day,” manager Skip Schumaker said. “It's not just [about being] happy to be in the big leagues. We're trying to win every day.”

Sunday’s victory continued the Marlins’ second-best 72-game start in franchise history, behind only the 1997 World Series champion club. They have the third-best record in the National League with three weeks left until the All-Star break, behind only Atlanta and Arizona.

And their latest win also doubled as a Father’s Day present for the ages for Robert Amaya, who flew from Southern California to witness his son’s MLB debut.

“That meant the world,” Robert Amaya said on the BallySports Marlins broadcast, shedding tears as Jacob lined a fourth-inning single into left field for his first MLB hit. “This is a huge dream. This is Jacob’s dream, my dad’s dream, our dream. This is the best weekend.”

When Jacob, whom the Marlins acquired from the Dodgers on Jan. 11 in the Miguel Rojas trade, first learned of his promotion around 11:30 p.m. ET on Friday, his first call was to Robert. He described their conversation as "a lot of tears, joy and excitement." For the Amayas, it was the culmination of a lifelong family dream.

“I was in shock,” Robert said. “I felt like it was a long time coming, and it happened and it was a shock … I’m crying. I’m happy. To see my boy do this, I don’t have words for that.”

Jacob joined the Marlins on Saturday, replacing injured shortstop Jean Segura on the active roster. Meanwhile, Robert, Jacob’s older brother Anthony and a cousin boarded a cross-country flight, hoping they wouldn’t arrive in D.C. too late. They didn’t. Jacob didn’t play Saturday, instead making his debut at shortstop in Sunday’s series finale with his family in attendance. He drove home a run with a fielder’s choice in his first at-bat, stole second, singled and scored in his second at-bat, finishing 1-for-3 with a run, a RBI and a stolen base, before being replaced by Joey Wendle on defense for the bottom of the seventh.

“I’m with my boys,” Robert said from the stands. “I’m with them, it’s Father’s Day and this is the best.”

Amaya pointed at his dad and brother in the stands after his first hit, acknowledging the moment from first base while the Marlins retrieved the baseball. Father and son reunited on the field shortly after the final out, embracing amid “a lot of tears, man,” Amaya said. “A lot of tears of enjoyment.”

Then Jacob gave his father the ball.

“That’s the one guy that’s always been by my side,” Amaya said. “I was just happy to have my family here.”