PHILADELPHIA -- Domonic Brown's mother, Rosemary Woods, is a tremendous cook.
She once owned and operated a soul-food restaurant in Dade City, Fla., called Rosemary's, long before she became a pastor in Brunswick, Ga. Brown takes his mother out for soul food every once in a while in Philadelphia. He said while she has enjoyed her meals, she still reverts to those restaurant days and thinks about how she could have made things a little better.
"In the near future we're thinking about doing that up here," Brown said of the family running a soul-food restaurant. "Oh, yeah."
Sunday is Mother's Day, but with the Phillies on the road, they held their annual Mother's Day celebration last Sunday at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies invited Brown's mother on the field for a pregame ceremony.
Brown and his mother are close, but they smile as they acknowledge they share an unusual mother/son story. Brown's father, Robert Walker, moved from Florida to Georgia when Brown was 14, so Rosemary raised her son alone in Florida. But before Brown's senior year of high school, Brown decided to go live with his father. His mother contested the move and there was a rather public custody battle, during which the local football and baseball star found himself getting shredded in the newspaper in Pasco County, where he grew up.
"It was a mess," Brown said.
"You don't even know, man," he said.
Brown explained the decision.
"I'm a momma's boy for sure, so when I left, it hurt her bad," he said. "My dad is a real tough guy. I knew that, and that's why I wanted to go up there and get that father figure back in my life. She knew that as well. She always threatened me, 'OK, you don't want to put up with my mess, go with your dad.' It finally happened. But it worked out great. It helped me out today, the battles and struggles of going through this stuff [on the field]. It's peanuts compared to that. It definitely helped me out in this business."
Said Woods: "When you love your children, you understand they go through things, and they have to find out for themselves. You want to tell them, 'This is not going to work,' but they've got to go through it themselves."
Mother and son reconciled in time and share a strong relationship today.
"I see her as much as I can," Brown said. "Mom and Dad, most of the holidays we're all together."
Brown mentions his mother played a critical role in his development as a professional baseball player.
"She was there for everything," said Brown, who pitched in high school. "My mom played softball growing up. She caught me until I was about 12, every weekend, baseball season, AAU, all that stuff, Wiffle ball, everything in the backyard, flips, tee work, I mean she was there, every game. Really when I left it was tough for her because she was the one that really wanted me to play baseball."
Woods even had Brown playing in a league for kids supposed to be at least 5 years old when he was only 3.
"He was big and we were from the country, so they didn't ask [about his age]," Woods said. "They were like, 'He's big, he can hit, he can play first base. We're good.'"
Brown smiles as he recalls those days.
"She was telling me I would be a big leaguer since I was 4 or 5," he said. "Seriously. No matter what, ups and downs, 'I'm not worried about it. You're going to hit. You're going to be fine.'"
Mother and son speak probably five days per week, their bond stronger than ever.
"She's the reason I'm so positive now," he said. "She's the big reason why I'm so humble. She preached no excuses. If you're 30 minutes early, you're late. She doesn't play around with that kind of stuff. The only reason why I left is because I needed that father figure in my life. ... It's great. I love it. I wouldn't take anything back for the world. My dad always told me, 'Your mom is going to be there. She's just a little upset because you're leaving. But we're going to stay positive and work through it. We'll work through it.'"
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com.