Martinez revels in having mom in the stands
Florida native's biggest fan watched son make history in Miami
HOUSTON -- Mayra Martinez was thrilled at the chance to finally get to see her only son, Astros outfielder J.D. Martinez, play a professional game in his hometown of Miami, and she wasn't alone.
With mom leading the way, a cheering section of more than 150 friends and family members were waving signs while making their presence known at Marlins Park when the Astros visited South Florida in April. What she never could have imagined was she was going to witness her son make history.
Martinez, a Pembroke Pines, Fla., native in his first full season in the Major Leagues, clubbed the first home run in the history of Marlins Park with his April 13 homer against the Marlins. While Martinez rounded the bases, his family went wild in the third-base stands. And no one was cheering louder than his mother.
"We were all thrilled," she said. "This has been such an emotional experience. This is what he wanted, and he's worked so hard and we're very, very proud."
Martinez was understandably thrilled at the accomplishment, but more so for his family being able to be in the stands and see it in person.
"It was awesome," he said. "I know [my mom] went crazy. She was going nuts. I can only imagine. It's just cool to be able to do it in front of all of them. They don't get to see me play a lot in person. They have to follow through the internet and on TV and by what people are writing, and it meant a lot to her and a lot to her family."
Martinez, 24, is one of the Astros' rising young stars, having burst onto the scene last year. He was called up from Double-A Corpus Christi following the trade of Hunter Pence in late July, and set an Astros rookie record for RBIs in a month with 28 in August.
He entered this season firmly entrenched as the Astros' No. 3 hitter and got off to a quick start at the plate.
"I'm very, very proud," Mayra Martinez said. "I know he can do whatever he puts his mind to. He's really earned it. He's always played with a chip on his shoulder."
It was Julio Martinez, J.D.'s father, who made sure he got to his games and practices in South Florida as a kid, but mom was always behind him. He might have been a momma's boy, but there's nothing wrong with that.
"If I got home late, she made sure I had food to eat," Martinez said. "She'd always have good food for me and would make my room, do my laundry, make my bed and everything. I was her only boy, and she always just spoiled me. Whenever she wanted to watch a TV show, she'd call me in to watch it with her."
There were times, though, when Martinez's mother thought her son was perhaps putting a little too much energy and passion into the game he loved.
"She knows how much I gave to it, and she used to tell me when I was little, 'You don't have to go so hard all the time,'" Martinez said. "I said, 'No, I want to make it. This is my dream.' She always understood and said she believed in me."
When Martinez wasn't playing baseball on the field, he was playing baseball video games or watching baseball on TV. Mayra knew there was little she could do to quash his love of the game. All she could do was provide a mother's love.
"My mom would say, 'It's always baseball, baseball, baseball,'" he said. "She knew how much I worked and was always there to support me in everything I did. It definitely meant a lot to watch her reaction [to hitting the first homer at Marlins Park]. Watching them getting so happy meant more to me than hitting the home run."