Palacios brothers fulfill lifelong dream to team up for the Netherlands

February 16th, 2023

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- There was no way Richard and Lianne Palacios were going to miss this.

For the first time since their sons, Richie and Josh, played youth baseball, the two were finally going to be on the same roster. Josh is two years older than Richie, which meant he was always a level ahead of his younger brother when it came to team age groups as children. Sometimes, Richie would play up with the older kids to get some more experience, but they never were truly on the same roster.

That changed this December, and it is about to happen again in the World Baseball Classic.  

Both Richie (outfielder in the Guardians organization) and Josh (outfielder in the Pirates organization) were planning to play winter ball this offseason, so they headed to the Puerto Rican league, joining Indios de Mayagüez -- the team that went on to win the championship at the end of January.

They were there to continue to hone their skills and make themselves better options for their respective clubs, but what they got in return was a championship celebration and a special family memory, as their parents watched them compete side by side for the first time.

“They didn’t want to miss that at all,” Richie said, with a grin. “My dad was just so happy that he was able to watch us do it after they sacrificed so much for us to get there. So, he was so happy, smiling ear to ear, and so were we.”

That smile didn’t have time to go away before another special announcement was made. And this time, it’s their mom who’s beaming even more.

Josh and Richie will head to Taiwan in a few weeks to team up for the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic. The two grew up in New York, but their mother was born in Curaçao and has a Dutch passport, making them eligible to compete for her home country.

“My mom was extremely excited,” Richie said. “She was screaming and stuff when she found out that we got selected for it.”

The Palacios family still has plenty of roots in Lianne’s native country. There are aunts, uncles and cousins still residing in Curaçao, and Richie said he’s visited the area seven or eight times already at just 25 years of age. Richie couldn’t help but boast of the pride he has to represent his mother and there’s no doubt in his mind that she’ll feel the same when the tournament gets underway on March 8.

“It’s honestly amazing, because growing up and when we made it to the Major Leagues, a lot of the publicity went to my dad, because he was always a baseball guy, he was always teaching us, even though my mom sacrificed so much,” Richie said. “So now it’s really cool to play for her country, because she’s getting some notoriety and it’s just fun to be able to pull for her, because she sacrificed so much for us.”

For the second time in a matter of months, the Palacios family can bond over baseball -- something that they’ve done since Josh and Richie were born. Their father, Richard, who reached Triple-A in the Tigers’ organization, took time to serve as a coach to both of them at times growing up. Richie leaned on his older brother to help him with learning all the skills that made the older kids successful -- something he described as a cheat code. Now, the two lean on each other through their professional careers by talking every day.

“I always go to him for advice about things,” Richie said, “and he’s always following me even though he’s still playing and I follow him even though I’m still playing.”

One thing the brothers always envisioned was playing in the World Baseball Classic together one day. Now, they’ll be able to do so.

“This was a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” Richie said. “And I didn’t want to miss it, because I grew up dreaming to play in this and watching Puerto Rico and Netherlands and Dominican and all these Classics, it’s always been my dream.”

Just as quickly as Richard and Lianne took off for Puerto Rico this winter to watch their sons play together, the two punched their tickets to Taiwan after the WBC rosters were released.

There was no way they were going to miss it.

“We’ve been dreaming about playing together since we were little kids,” Richie said. “Now [we're] going to be able to do that on a bigger stage.”