On Mother’s Day, a warm story about Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts learning to play the game from his mother.
Mookie Betts is one of the best players in all of baseball. The Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder–doesn’t that still sound good–is a four-time All Star and Gold Glove Award Winner, batting title champion, and 2018 American League MVP.
But before all of the shiny trophies and accolades, he was a kid learning to play the game in Nashville, Tennessee, his first organized baseball team coached by his mother.
Diana Benedict was a three-sport athlete, herself, who sharpened her baseball skills on her family farm. She was a sports fanatic, even naming her son Markus Lynn Betts because she wanted the initials to spell out “MLB.”
While Mookie’s father was a track and basketball player, it was his mother who taught him how to play America’s favorite past time.
"“She was my first coach,” Betts told MLB.com. “She would go out and throw. Whatever sport it was, she would go out and play with me and I remember sometimes we used to race almost every day. She said I got to the point where I would start to beat her consistently, so she quit then. We were always doing something. I thank her for everything she’s done.”"
It all makes sense why Betts recently said that he had to gain approval from his mom before he felt comfortable wearing a Dodgers uniform after growing up in the Boston Red Sox system.
Betts picked up the sport at an early age, playing for his mother. Wearing an oversized uniform, he remembers catching his first fly ball.
"“I remember catching my first fly ball,” Betts recently told ESPN. “After I caught it, I looked to my mom, raised the ball up and said, ‘Mommy! Mommy! I caught it!'”"
For so long, baseball has been romanticized as a sport shared between fathers and sons. And there are plenty of paternal relationships fostered by the love of the game played on a diamond decorated with bases. But there are also stories about mothers who have connected to their sons and daughters through the game, and Mookie Betts’ story is a great reminder of that.
Happy Mother’s Day, Dodgers fans! Hopefully we will be seeing the skills Benedict taught her son at Dodger Stadium, or on a random field somewhere soon.