Dobnak repays parents for support, sacrifice

November 15th, 2021

Behind a Major League player, there's the dedicated support group that's always been there for him, from the childhood games of catch, the long years of Minor League ball, to that dreamlike moment of first watching him take the field in a big league uniform under the bright lights of a three-tiered ballpark.

That long journey involved a good deal of uncertainty for and his family, spanning a stint in a little-known independent league in Michigan after he was undrafted out of a Division II college, getting scouted via YouTube and driving Uber on the side before his meteoric rise to the Majors with the Twins in 2019.

And now that Dobnak has secured his future with a five-year extension signed before the 2021 season, he made sure to show his parents, Rick and Jodi, his gratitude for their support over the years by paying off the remainder of their mortgage, as revealed in a video he shared to his Twitter feed on Monday.

"I remember seeing guys doing that when they were first-rounders and always wished I would be able to," Dobnak said to in a text message.

Dobnak was far from a first-rounder with a big signing bonus as he emerged from Alderson Broaddus University in rural West Virginia, and he's never treated this career or any stability therein as a given, even after he pitched himself all the way from A-ball to a playoff start in the Majors at Yankee Stadium in 2019.

Rick Dobnak has followed his son's journey through amateur and pro ball with his trusty camera and truck, taking time away from his job as a union electrician when he could, while Jodi would chant for her son and scream his name from the stands. Randy always had a knack for spotting his father's camera in the stands as Rick took photos of his son and teammates to share with those families.

"From Prospect Park to Target Field, the both of you have always been in my corner," Dobnak wrote in a letter to his parents, read by his mother on video. "Without you, none of this would be possible. I was and will always be grateful for all of the sacrifices you made during [brother] R.J.'s and my childhood."

All those sacrifices led to a guaranteed $9.25 million payday when the Twins bought out the remainder of Dobnak's pre-arbitration and arbitration years last offseason, allowing Randy and wife Aerial Dobnak greater means to support the charitable causes that they've always hoped to emphasize as a big league family -- St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in particular -- and now, those close to them.

And through all that, Randy Dobnak never forgot those two-plus-hour drives his parents would make and all the financial support they gave for years of travel ball to let him live out his baseball dream.

"They definitely worked their asses off to provide for my brother and I, and it’s the least I could do," he said to "Just want them to have the life they'd always imagined."

As for what that looks like? Not thinking about that mortgage might well have added years to Rick's life, he said to his son, and maybe they'll start flying to the Twin Cities for Randy's starts instead of driving the 14 hours and begin to enjoy more travel away from home in the Pittsburgh area.

"There isn't anything I could possibly do to thank both of you for everything you've done, but there is one thing I've always wished I would do to show how appreciative I am for everything you've done," Dobnak wrote to his parents.

"How'd you get ahold of my mortgage?" Rick simply asked with a grin.