BROCKTON, Mass. — While outfielder Pedro Martinez Jr., first baseman Manny Ramirez Jr., third baseman D’Angelo Ortiz, outfielder Jaden Sheffield and pitcher Kade Foulke chat in the batting cages, general manager Tom Tracey scares away fans loitering outside Campanelli Stadium, in the Hoping to catch a glimpse of the players collectively known as “The Sons”.
“Brockton High School is right next door,” says Tracey. “There are always people hanging around trying to see what’s happening here.”
In fact, word got around in New England. About an hour’s drive from Fenway Park, baseball fans can watch the sons of MLB kings play at the Futures Collegiate Baseball League’s Brockton Rox. Once there, they might see Hall of Famer David Ortiz helping players fine-tune their swings, Manny Ramirez demonstrating how to lay down the curveball, Keith Foulke – the former Red Sox closer who shot the last throw in the world Series 2004 threw – raking the dirt in infield, or Pedro Martinez and Gary Sheffield watching from one of the suite boxes.
The sons recognize the novelty of the situation. Martinez Jr., Ortiz, Ramirez Jr. and Foulke try to follow in the footsteps of four members of a legendary 2004 Boston Red Sox team – the one that broke the curse of the Bambino. Sheffield’s father was on the other side of the rivalry as a member of the New York Yankees.
“Our dads are inseparable in baseball history,” says Martinez Jr. “For so many people, it’s nostalgic. We used to all see each other at reunions in Fenway. To be able to play together and not watch our dads play, we try to make a name for ourselves.”
All five sons joined the Rox this summer to improve their games. The Futures Collegiate Baseball League, which ranks a few notches below the prestigious Cape Cod League, offers college-entering players and Division I, II, or III players the opportunity to receive consistent playing time from late May through week two August in an eight-team league.
Martinez played the Rox last summer and is the oldest at 21, a prospective senior at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida. Sheffield, 19, is an incoming sophomore in Georgetown. Ortiz, 17, Ramirez, 19, and Foulke, 18, are all freshmen — they’ll play at Miami Dade College, Tallahassee Community College, and Galveston College, respectively.
These names on the list make Rox games a hot ticket this summer. The team say attendance at a 4,750-seat stadium averages about 1,500 on an average weekend – compared to an average of less than half before this season.
“It definitely generated a lot of hype,” says Tracey, who says he didn’t plan on getting the sons together. “Fans hear the names and they say they want to see these kids if they’re like their dads and everything. Fans are there before the games, after the games, and the kids are sending letters to the stadium asking for autographs. “
But the sons shrug their shoulders at this attention. They’re used to it – they’ve been the target of opposing teams and fans since childhood. The younger Martinez recalls hearing taunts from “Who’s Your Daddy” as long as he was on a baseball field.
“Everyone has been told that you will never be your father or this and that,” says Ortiz. “We’re not trying to be our fathers. When people put you on a pedestal, they look up to you and try to see what they can take from you. We’re all so proud of coming from where we come from and we’re just trying to keep that going.”
And far more than the pressure of the inquisitive public, the Sons say their harshest critics reside within them.
“You just want to carry the surname well,” says Sheffield. “It’s really what I want to do. It’s a proud thing. I’m not trying to be my father. You can not. My dad did great things in baseball and if I can just carry that last name well, keep the legacy going, it’s a proud thing.”
“I really didn’t understand how big [my father] was until he was inducted into the Hall of Fame. … This is Mookie Betts, talking to him like he’s someone cool and treating him like he’s royalty. Why is this guy talking to my weird, idiot dad? He spends his time at home tending to his flowers.”
Pedro Martinez Jr.
Their fathers also expect a lot from their sons and hold them to high standards – and under strict scrutiny.
“What I don’t like is when you hit a home run and look at it, [our parents] get mad,” says Ramirez. “If one of us hits a home run and looks at it, they’re like, ‘Hey, what are you doing? Run the bases.’ I’m just saying, ‘I’m trying to do what you guys used to do with the jugs. I learned that from you. You used to pimp home runs.'”
Jokes Martinez: “My dad would just hit you.”
“I think his dad hit my dad at some point,” Sheffield replies, laughing and pointing at Martinez Jr.
But at the same time, they all know that there are perks to having famous dads.
“Every problem I have in baseball, my father experienced it,” says Foulke. “If I tell him my problem, he tells me… how to fix it.”
Rox’s coaching staff say Summer Ball is an opportunity to grow rather than focus on numbers, but the stats show there is room for improvement. It’s too early to tell if any of “The Sons” will make it to the majors. Ortiz is the best performer so far this summer, averaging .271s with 14 RBIs and 19 walks in his first 22 games. Martinez hits .250/.372/.278, Ramirez hits .145/.213/.275 and Sheffield hits .159/.268/.232. Foulke has allowed six runs in 6⅔ innings with 13 strikeouts and five walks.
But their time together was also a learning experience off the field. Ramirez says he didn’t know as a kid that his father was a baseball star and not just a celebrity you know on the street. Raised in Texas and Florida, Foulke had no idea his father was a Boston legend until he arrived in Brockton. Martinez used to be confused as to why so many people worshiped his father.
“I really didn’t understand how great he was until he was inducted into the Hall of Fame,” says Martinez. “I remember strength training with him and I see my favorite players and they treat him like royalty. This is Mookie Betts talking to him like he’s someone cool, treating him like he’s royalty. Why is this guy talking to my madman? , idiot dad? He spends his time at home tending to his flowers.”
Being teammates on the Rox has made the sons feel less lonely. They all say they have never been with so many people with similar life experiences.
“The respect I have for his father, for his father, for his father, for his father,” Martinez says, pointing to his teammates. “We all just like to know, you don’t have to say it. I know he knows. We are all related to each other in some way. We are all connected. There is an automatic connection because we are all connected in history. You can’t break that.”
https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/34142595/manny-pedro-papi-kids-same-team-meet-sons-brockton-rox Manny, Pedro and Papi’s kids are on the same team?! Meet ‘The Sons’ of the Brockton Rox