As Tampa Bay hosts Texas in the American League Wild Card Series beginning Tuesday, this reunion between the Lowe brothers will take on a different tone. Their mother, Wendy, won’t be in the stands cheering on her boys, as Josh revealed Monday that she is battling brain cancer.
Wendy is three weeks into a six-week chemotherapy schedule, Josh said. He called his mom early Monday and asked if he could share the news, which he did while standing in front of his locker before the Rays’ afternoon workout.
“She’s good,” Josh said. “She's gonna get through it. … I asked her if it's OK if I said something, and she said yes, because the more people that know, the more prayers that can be had for her.”
Wendy was practically the star of the show when the Lowe brothers faced off for the first time in the Majors in June. While her husband, David, wore a polo shirt featuring both Rays and Rangers logos, Wendy sported a split “LOWE” jersey, half Rays and half Rangers, with “Joshua” (and his No. 15) written above the Rays logo and “Nathaniel” (and his No. 30) over the Rangers logo.
Nearly a month after their meeting, Josh was placed on the family medical emergency list to be with his mother. Nathaniel, 28, joined his younger brother a few days later to be with their family during the All-Star break. Wendy had suffered a seizure, and that scare sparked a search for answers that ultimately led to the devastating diagnosis of brain cancer.
“These guys are people before they're players, and they are going through a lot of things that people aren't aware of,” Rays general manager Peter Bendix said Monday. “To have any kind of family issue, your heart goes out to them, and you understand that ultimately, at the end of the day, this is a job. And Josh is a son and he's a brother first. You just pray for the family.”
Josh, 25, has played remarkably well under such trying circumstances, bouncing back from a subpar rookie season to slash .292/.335/.500 with 20 home runs, 33 doubles and 32 stolen bases to go along with 83 RBIs in 135 games. He’s a big reason why the Rays are here -- the AL’s top Wild Card club -- and he credited the team for its support in every way.
“This team has been everything for me,” Josh said. “Front office, [manager Kevin Cash], coaches, staff -- I obviously haven't shared it, but they've been here for me for every single minute that I need. Can't say enough good things about them.”
Representing the Rangers at Tropicana Field on Monday afternoon, general manager Chris Young offered his sympathy and unfortunately personal understanding for what the Lowes are going through.
“I lost my dad around this time here eight years ago, and I know how hard it is to play a game and constantly be thinking about a sick family member,” Young said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the Lowe family. For Josh and Nate, all I can say is that I sympathize and empathize with how hard this is for them. It's really hard.
“These are human beings, and to compartmentalize and go out and play a game -- we've worked your whole life to be on this stage, and meanwhile, you're suffering at home. It's really, really challenging, and so we’re completely empathetic to them. We’re offering all of our support to Nate and giving his family our best wishes.”
Josh said the Lowes could have some extended family members in attendance this week, but he obviously expected their dad to stay by Wendy’s side at home as she undergoes treatment. He also believes it won’t be the last time his parents get a chance to see their boys play postseason baseball on the same field.
“How often do you get a chance to see your two sons play in a Major League playoff game?” Josh said. “But this is a situation that I could see happening for many years to come. So I told him, ‘You know, if you guys don't come this time, I’m sure there's going to be plenty of years ahead where we can have this happen.’”