It was game night at Campanelli Stadium in Brockton, Massachusetts, home of the Brockton Rocks.
In addition to the typical minor league antics, fans flocked to the park about 25 miles south of Boston for a chance to get an autograph from some legend.
“I have Manny, Pedro and D’Angelo,” said one young fan.
He’s not talking about retired Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez or former ace and Hall of Fame pitcher Pedro Martinez. He was talking about their son.
This fall, 19-year-old Manny Ramirez Jr. is seen as a celebrity in Brockton on his way to college in Florida, even though injuries will keep him here. Missed for the remainder of the season.
“Coming here is the best thing because you can go 0-3 with strikeouts and the fans still love you,” Ramirez Jr. told the “CBS Saturday Morning” co-host People Dana Jacobson. “It’s like, something that happens once in a lifetime. So, it’s amazing to see it.”
Manny Jr. fights alongside childhood friends D’Angelo Ortiz and Pedro Martinez Jr. Back in 2004, their legendary fathers Manny Ramirez, David “Big Papi” Ortiz and Pedro Martinez helped Boston win its first World Series title in 86 years.
“Honestly, it feels like a movie, and I’m not even going to lie to you,” Martinez Jr. said. “Like, it feels fake, like, wait what’s going on?”
Martinez Jr., 21, was the first to join Rox.
“It sounds like it was planned, but it wasn’t,” said Martinez Jr. “I was here last year and I was the only one. I ended up coming back and prospering and we had a whole new dance team.”
The team also includes his cousin Jose, senior Pedro’s nephew and son of former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Ramon Martinez. Jaden Sheffield, son of nine-time All-Star Gary Sheffield; Kade Foulke’s father, Keith, capped the Red Sox’s historic 2004 World Series win.
“I thought of your father in the final,” Jacobson told Falk. “Do you remember the moment you first saw it?”
“I really remember a picture of us on the court and after the World Series and I was crying and I was in his arms,” Falk said. “It’s just something I grew up with.”
“Jose, what’s the best thing about having a dad who was a major league player?” Jacobson asked.
“It brings knowledge,” said Jose Martinez. “He just knew the right steps to take and what I had to do. He was just a good partner.”
What is the hardest thing?
“Expect,” Martinez said. “Expectations are on a completely different level.”
The fathers have all spent time at the club this season, offering tips and sharing stories from decades at the height of the sport.
Keith Foulke was helping the ground crew when we visited.
“What do you think about not only your son, but some of your former teammates’ sons you helped raise?” Jacobson asked him.
“It’s incredible,” Falk said. “It’s great to be a major league player, but there’s a lot of difficulty. If we can make the path a little bit easier for the young athlete and make him a little bit smarter on and off the court, you know that’s a bit of a mentor and we’re proud of that. .”
There were also ups and downs in letting their dad hang out a lot, the kids said.
“It was really fun, but it was also bad,” Kade Foulke said. “He really helped me, you know, in every aspect of the game, but at the same time, he was almost always on my case, you know.”
“The other day I asked Cade’s dad to help me with some moves like throwing and I asked Manny’s dad to help me in the cage and he saw something my dad was trying to explain I didn’t take my Expressed in a way that understands,” Jaden Sheffield said.
“Sometimes you don’t like listening to your dad,” said Martinez Jr.
These would-be next-generation baseball stars aren’t expecting special treatment, but they find solace in teammates who know what they’re going through.
“The thing that really makes it human is that we can joke about it,” Martinez Jr. said. “Stay normal because we’re human.”