"It's a good tradition:" In town to take on the Brewers, Pirates have very special spectators in the stands
MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- For more than a hundred years, the love of baseball has been passed down from generation to generation. It is no different for many players in the big leagues, but sometimes, they have the opportunity to give it back.
"Everything they do is major league. Everything is big league. Everything is beautiful," Remberto Sanchez said.
On a Sunday afternoon at Miller Park, Sanchez was doing what he's done for nearly 30 years -- watching his son Gaby hit baseball after baseball.
"There's nothing to critique. I just feel everything looks great," Sanchez said.
Gaby is a first baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates -- in Milwaukee this weekend facing the Brewers. Typically, a road trip involves just the team and its staff. But this particular trip had a few more people along for the ride.
"It's great for your dads to be able to experience what we go through," Gaby Sanchez said.
The fathers of the players joined their sons for the entire weekend -- something Gaby Sanchez credits to manager Clint Hurdle.
"I think it's a good tradition to start because I know that they enjoy it, and it's nice to have them around as well -- just being able to come in and hang out in the clubhouse and just be with their sons," Gaby Sanchez said.
"It's a trip to be with your son and knowing what he does during the day and the whole aspect of being in the locker room. But it's unbelievable," Remberto Sanchez said.
When they weren't in the clubhouse, these dads were on the field -- watching their sons take batting practice or shag fly balls. It's something Remberto Sanchez did at Miami-Dade College.
"I was drafted by the Expos. They gave me a bus ticket that said 'come over to Spring Training.' And I said 'okay.' Then things changed around and 'hey, you're getting married.' Forget about baseball. And that was it," Remberto Sanchez said.
Or so he thought.
After getting married, Remberto Sanchez went on to own sporting goods stores around the Miami area. His business included batting cages -- giving his son, Gaby an opportunity.
"Many times after many games, high school games or college games, he would say 'Dad, I got to work on something. Let's go open up Sluggers.' And we would be there until 1 or 2 o'clock in the morning with the lights on," Remberto Sanchez said.
"I was there countless hours every single night just working and honing my swing, working on hitting continually to try and perfect something that can never be perfected," Gaby Sanchez said.
Gaby Sanchez worked his way to the University of Miami, playing baseball in his hometown. It was there that he met one of his closest friends.
"We lived together with my brother our junior year," Gaby Sanchez says of Brewers slugger Ryan Braun.
"His family was like a second family for me when I was out there. I grew up in Los Angeles, so being at school all the way on the East Coast, it was great to have people who were there that would support me and cook for me and help me with everything that went into the transition from high school to college," Braun said.
All through college and since, Braun and Sanchez have been close, which is why this weekend in Milwaukee was even more special.
"It's always nice of course to be able to come over here because of course, go over there and hang out at his house, see his wife. She's about to give birth here any minute now. So, it's exciting for him to be in that position. But it's just nice to always catch up," Gaby Sanchez said.
"You know when they both came up, I think there was a game, my son was with the Marlins, and both families were together. We looked at each other and said 'who would expect that both of them would make it to the Major League's coming out of the University of Miami?'" Remberto Sanchez said.
"Any time he's in town I always love the opportunity to catch up with Rem. He still tells Gaby and I that he's the best player out of the three of us. So I don't know, we'll see. Hopefully one day we'll get the chance to see some old footage of him back in his prime," Braun said.
During the Saturday night game, Gaby Sanchez came in as a defensive replacement and then came to the plate in the ninth inning.
Remberto Sanchez sat in his seat behind home plate, watching intently.
Gaby Sanchez would pop up, but the Pirates would win the game. Usually, Remberto would be on the phone with Gaby shortly after the game, but this time, the two had the opportunity to talk over a late dinner.
"After the game always call him, see how everything was going. He'll tell me how everything is. And then we go from there," Gaby Sanchez said.
While he wouldn't trade this weekend for anything, Remberto Sanchez prefers another place to watch the game: His own home.
"It stinks because he watches the games on TV. He's not going to be there every single game. I know he would definitely want to be there every single game. But it's just one of those things where it happens," Gaby Sanchez said.
"For all of us as players, we appreciate the support of our family, our friends. And Rem's about as into it as anybody could possibly be and as supportive a father as anyone could ever hope for," Braun said.
"Hopefully next year, we'll do it again," Remberto Sanchez said.
The Pirates believe they are the only team in the big leagues to have an annual Father's Weekend on the road.