Mom Terrific: MLB Mothers truly amaze

May 5th, 2016

Yasmany Tomas' mom sounds like most moms. She beams with pride at her son's accomplishments. She worries about him when things aren't going so well.

And she wonders why he isn't calling home enough.

"Yasme," the voice on the other end of the line often says, "I'm glad you called. Today will be better than yesterday. Tomorrow will be better than today. Don't worry, Yasmito, everything is going to be OK. You just need to be more patient at the plate. And why haven't you called me in two days?"

Shop for Mother's Day gear

Aren't moms just the best?

The answer to that question, of course, is a resounding yes. We'd like to think that every day is Mother's Day, but that shouldn't prevent us from blowing out the one official, designated day that we can salute the very people without whom, literally, we would not be here: mom.

Today, with ballparks and players alike draped in pink, all Major League Baseball games will be dedicated to moms, while raising awareness and funds to fight breast cancer. To supplement the celebration, our beat reporters asked players for their insights about what makes their moms, simply, the best moms.

:: Mother's Day 2016 ::

For Tomas, his relationship with his mother is -- and will remain, for the foreseeable future -- a long-distance one. He defected from Cuba to play Major League Baseball, and with that comes sacrifice -- not being able to see family.

"One of the hardest things about leaving my country behind is not being to see my family and hug my mother," Tomas said. "Imagine somebody that raised you since you were a baby, watched all of your baseball games since you were five years old and loved you unconditionally. Then not seeing that person anymore or having that person at your games. It's very hard, but that's part of life and the path I chose to be here."

Major League Baseball's ongoing partnership with organizations that fight cancer and raise awareness hits close to home for several players. Royals star outfielder Alex Gordon, for example, is grateful for every day he has with his mom, Leslie, who has survived two bouts of cancer, both of which are in remission.

"I feel very blessed," Leslie said. "I'm grateful it was me and not one of my kids. God has me on this journey. He needs me on Earth and not in Heaven. I have a very peaceful existence."

If possible, Alex has developed even more admiration for his mother through the cancer fight.

"Of course, it is scary," he said. "Any time someone close to you has cancer, it's very scary. But my mom has tremendous determination and courage, and she is a fighter."

Giants outfielder Gregor Blanco lost his mom, Rosa, to brain cancer in 2005. She also had to deal with bouts of breast, ovarian and lung cancer.

She passed away three years before Gregor reached the big leagues. One of the first things he did when the Braves told him he made the Opening Day roster in 2008 was run to center field, look up to the sky and say, "Well, mom, we did it."

"Every day I come here, I always bless her and thank her for the opportunity," Blanco said recently.

For Angels catcher Geovany Soto, his mother, Norma, represents the ultimate in strength, perseverance and dedication to family. When Soto was eight, his dad, Antonio, contracted the Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a rare disorder in which the body's immune system attacks the nerves, causing paralysis. He watched his mother care for her husband, work full time and provide for two kids.

"She was dealing with the whole household, dealing with a husband who couldn't even move his neck, dealing with me and my sister and paying all these bills, and trying to get us through," Soto said. "That's what I remember about my mom. She's always a fighter, always going through odds, and always preaching that. Always preaching, 'Go forward, never surrender upon bad times, always hit your problems head-on and fight for what you believe in.'"

Marlins second baseman Derek Dietrich's first Major League double came on Mother's Day, three years ago. His mother, Cathi, was in the stands to witness the moment, and after, Derek presented his mom with the pink and white cleats and wristbands he wore. On his shoes, he wrote: "Happy Mother's Day, 2013. I love you, Derek."

"The memory of the day, those spikes, it's just priceless," Cathi said. "The look on his face was even more precious than the gift of the spikes. I think he was just so happy -- the hard work and sacrifice that we shared -- just to get to that point. To be able to give those to me was like a symbol, like, 'Here we are, we made it.'"

Pirates pitcher Jeff Locke calls home twice a day before every game to talk to his mom, Pam -- just to make sure everything is OK.

Pam Locke was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2014, news Jeff found out just before he was to start against the Cubs at PNC Park. Pam continues her battle, one that has prevented her from seeing her son pitch in person in more than two years.

They hope to change that soon.

"Hopefully this summer we'll be able to make a trip out to Pittsburgh for a couple days to see him pitch," Pam said.

Until then, she'll get two phone calls before every game. She'll end each one with the same words she wanted to say here.

"I love you, Jeff."

What has Rangers outfielder Nomar Mazara learned from his mother, Yanira? Mostly that education comes first -- even before baseball.

"She wanted me to play baseball, but she wanted me to go to school more," he said. "So every day she would say, 'You want to play baseball? I said, 'Yeah.' She said, 'Well you better go to school too. You decide -- if you want to play baseball, then you better go to school too.'

"I was a good student. I didn't like to do it, but I had to do it."

Yanira believed in her son's athletic abilities, but knew he'd be fine if baseball didn't work out.

"If you don't make it to pro ball, you are going to be somebody," she told her son.

"She didn't care what I wanted to be," Mazara said. "'Whatever you want to be, you can do it. Just go to school.'"

There's never a shortage of life lessons our moms have taught us -- work hard, treat people with respect, don't take anything for granted. Get an education, make a difference in the world.

And one more thing -- call home every once in a while, would you?