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Travis, mother share life, love of baseball

National pastime deeply rooted among family of Blue Jays rookie second baseman
MLB.com

TORONTO -- When Devon Travis was a toddler, he'd walk around his house with his older stepbrother's baseball jersey -- about 10 times too big for him -- hanging off his body.

At 4 years old, Travis was so eager to play ball, his parents had to canvass local leagues in order to find one that would take a kid that young. Rarely seen without a ball and glove somewhere nearby, it was clear to Devon's mother, Tammy, that, despite her son's tender age, she had a baseball player on her hands.

TORONTO -- When Devon Travis was a toddler, he'd walk around his house with his older stepbrother's baseball jersey -- about 10 times too big for him -- hanging off his body.

At 4 years old, Travis was so eager to play ball, his parents had to canvass local leagues in order to find one that would take a kid that young. Rarely seen without a ball and glove somewhere nearby, it was clear to Devon's mother, Tammy, that, despite her son's tender age, she had a baseball player on her hands.

From then on, the family's life was consumed by baseball. Tammy would carry on her nursing studies at the ballfield while Devon practiced or played, and she'd even shag fly balls while husband Tony pitched to Devon during batting practice.

:: Mother's Day 2015 ::

"My entire life with Devon, from that first time he started playing, has been around baseball," the mother of the Blue Jays' rookie second baseman said. "Every vacation we've ever taken has been a baseball vacation. From California to Pennsylvania, on the road with a travel team, with other families and good friends that Devon grew up playing with."

The travelling included trips to tournaments across the country, to camps and tryouts, and even a stop at the Little League World Series.

It didn't stop when he went away to play college baseball in Tallahassee at Florida State University, about a six-hour drive from the Travis home in West Palm Beach.

Without fail, every weekend, the Travis family would pack up the car and make the 400-mile trek to catch Devon's games with the Seminoles.

He left FSU following his junior season to chase his Major League dreams after being drafted by the Tigers in 2012 before going on to suit up for four teams in the Minor Leagues.

The decision to leave college without a degree was not one Devon made lightly. Growing up, academic success was of paramount importance in the Travis household.

He likes to tell the story of his grade-nine report card, which featured five A-grades and a single B.

Most parents would rejoice at such a result, but not Tammy or Tony. Instead, that one B landed Devon a week's grounding.

"He jokes with people that he was punished for a B, but it's true, because I knew he was capable of getting an A if he applied himself to the fullest," Tammy says. "He likes to bring that story up a lot."

As tough a pill as it might've been to swallow at the time, Devon looks back with an appreciation for those teachable moments. He says that the sometimes-tough love from his mom, dad and aunt Shari translated into self-discipline and motivation, which he ultimately applied to baseball.

Now only a little more than one month into his big league career, that dedication appears to be paying off, as evident by his recent distinction as the American League's Rookie of the Month.

"I can't think of a bigger word than 'proud,'" Tammy says of the accomplishment. "I'm just so happy for him. He's worked for it. He's earned it, and you always want the best for your children."

Luckily for the mother-son duo, they'll be able to celebrate together. Tammy travelled to Toronto for the first time this weekend to spend Mother's Day with her son as he and his Blue Jays teammates face the Red Sox.

Although the self-proclaimed "mama's boy" is geographically as far away from his mom as he's ever been, he never hesitates to remind her how thankful he is for her impact on his success.

"She's No. 1,  and I let her know all the time how thankful I am for what she's done for me," Devon says.

Jamie Ross is an associate reporter for MLB.com.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Toronto Blue Jays, Devon Travis