Musgrove: 'So cool' to play near mom

No-hitter was special, but family values time together just as much

May 9th, 2021

SAN DIEGO -- Diane Musgrove spent the winter paying very close attention to any and all Hot Stove news -- perhaps even more so than her own son. She was locked in. She knew was one of the most prominent trade targets in baseball. She also knew that her hometown Padres needed starting pitching.

In late December, Diane’s hopes of seeing her son in Padres brown took a hit -- or so she thought. In one day, San Diego landed Yu Darvish and Blake Snell via trade.

"I just thought, getting Darvish and getting Snell, there wasn't a chance anymore," Diane recalled. "We knew Joe was going to get traded, we just didn't know where."

As she tells it, she was in for "a very happy surprise."

Three weeks later, Diane was recovering from COVID-19 and was quarantining in her family home in a nearby suburb of El Cajon, Calif. She opened her phone and checked Twitter and noticed that she'd been tagged in a post by an excited Padres fan.

"I'm thinking: 'What was that about?'" she recalled. "So I scroll down, and it said: ‘Joe Musgrove traded to the Padres.’ I screamed so loud."

The family reunion was on -- and thus far, it has been even more special than anyone in the Musgrove family would have imagined. It took Joe all of two starts to etch his name in Padres history, when he authored the franchise's first no-hitter. In the aftermath, Joe has become something of a local icon. Grossmont High School, his alma mater, commissioned a mural of Musgrove. He has been offered free beer for life by Ballast Point Brewing.

Nowhere is Musgrove's ascendancy more readily apparent than at humble Caffé Adesso, a coffee shop in nearby Alpine, Calif., owned and operated by Diane Musgrove.

If there was one downside to Joe's no-hitter, it's that -- after all those years -- it took place on the road in Texas. Padres fans, needing a place to collectively express their catharsis, flocked to Caffé Adesso the next day.

On a normal Saturday, Diane estimated the coffee shop would sell about 275 drinks. On Saturday, April 10, it sold 600 -- mostly to Padres fans who were happy to wait in long lines to express their gratitude for Joe's feat.

"It's incredible," Diane said. "It's still going on. It's daily now -- at least 10 people will stop in and say something. And over the weekends, it gets really busy. They come up in all their Padres clothes, they take pictures right outside the sign. ... It's been a big change up there. Everybody's just really excited about it."

Those Padres fans often come bearing gifts, too -- framed front pages from the San Diego Union-Tribune, baseballs signed with messages to Joe, no-hitter themed T-shirts and coffee mugs. Even a painting of Joe embracing Padres catcher Victor Caratini.

The no-hitter is clearly the highlight of Joe’s return to San Diego. The Musgrove family -- Joe's parents and two sisters -- watched together in their home, as always, and it was a profoundly special night.

But Joe's return home is much bigger than one on-field performance. Joe will be in San Francisco for Mother’s Day on Sunday, but the Musgroves have spent more time together this season than any since he reached the Majors. Diane remarked that last month marked the first time in a decade that Joe had Easter dinner with the family -- a traditional ham, but also lasagna and other fixings from Diane's Italian roots.

“The first time in 10 years we had him home for the holiday,” Diane said. “It's just the fact that after the game, it's a 20-minute drive to the house, and he's here. We're so used to him being gone or taking him to the airport and then only seeing him on the road or when he comes to San Diego. It's been absolutely fabulous.”

Diane's home-cooked meals are already fairly legendary among those who scouted Musgrove. Now, Joe gets to eat them regularly again. He stops by for breakfast before certain night games or dinner after day games. Lasagna remains Joe’s favorite, but the chicken cavatappi and the carnitas aren’t too far behind.

"Getting to play baseball in the big leagues is already one of the coolest things ever," Joe said. "But getting to do it in your hometown, when you're playing for the team you've always loved and being around your family -- just the closeness we're able to share throughout the season, it's just been so cool for me."

Diane, of course, played no small part in Joe's ascent to the Majors. As a kid, when Joe had a game or a practice, Diane was always the first one awake in the Musgrove household -- making three large airpots of coffee, 20-30 breakfast sandwiches, packing a cooler full of snacks and drinks, and preparing sausages and hot dogs for the grill. She loaded everything into the family car, along with two large banquet tables.

That’s because Diane Musgrove ran a makeshift snack bar at Joe’s games and practices -- and a fairly lucrative one at that. The money she brought in paid for Joe's travel teams and trips, including three separate family visits to Cooperstown, where Joe played in tournaments. The family holds those trips in particularly special regard. While Joe stayed in the local dorms with his teammates, the Musgroves rented a house on the lake.

"She's been my biggest support since I was a little kid,” Joe said. "There's not many moms like her that'll dive that deep into what their son's into. ... She was a constant support with the normal motherly love. But she also always made an effort to educate herself in the game so that she could relate to me a little better."

As such, Diane has always immersed herself deeply in the latest baseball news. But she paid particularly close attention this winter, keeping close tabs on Joe's potential landing spot. She still can't believe quite how well it all turned out.

"You still pinch yourself," she said. "You can't believe he's home, and he's pitching in our stadium for our hometown team."