September 27, 2022

It’s game night at Campanelli Stadium in Brockton, Massachusetts, home of the Brockton Rox.

Along with the typical minor league antics, fans flock to the ballpark, about 25 miles south of Boston, for a chance to get an autograph from some legendary names.

“I got Manny’s, Pedro’s and D’Angelo’s,” 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 is talking about their sons.

Just 19 years old and on his way to college in Florida this fall, Manny Ramirez Jr. is treated like a celebrity in Brockton, despite an injury that will keep him out for the rest of the season.

“It’s the best thing coming here because you could go 0-3 with three hits and the fans still love you,” Ramirez Jr. said. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing. That’s how it is, it’s amazing to see.”

Manny Jr. playing alongside childhood friends D’Angelo Ortiz and Pedro Martinez Jr. In 2004, their legendary fathers, Manny Ramirez, David “Big Papi” Ortiz and Pedro Martinez helped bring Boston its first World Series title in 86 years.

“Honestly, it’s like a movie, I’m not even going to lie to you,” Martinez Jr. said. “So it’s so fake, like, did you expect this to happen?”

Martinez Jr. – who is 21 – was the first to join the Rox.

“It sounds planned, but it really wasn’t,” Martinez Jr. said. “I showed up here last year and I was the only one. I ended up coming back and boom, we got a whole new dance crew.”

Jose Martinez, Kade Foulke, Pedro Martinez Jr and Jaden Sheffield

That crew also includes his cousin Jose, nephew of Pedro Senior and son of former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Ramon Martinez. Jaden Sheffield, son of nine-time All Star Gary Sheffield. and Kade Foulke, whose father, Keith, closed out the Red Sox’s historic 2004 World Series victory.

“I’m thinking about your dad in the final,” Jacobson told Foulke. “Do you have a moment you remember seeing it for the first time?”

“I actually remember a picture of us together on the field and after the World Series and I was crying and I’m in his arms,” ​​Foulke said. “It’s something I’ve grown up with.”

“Jose, what’s the best thing about having a dad who was a big leaguer?” Jacobson asked.

“The knowledge that comes with it,” Jose Martinez said. “He just knows exactly the right steps to take, what to do. He’s just a great partner.”

And the hardest part?

“The expectations,” Martinez said. “The expectations are on a whole different level.”

The dads have all spent time at the club this season, offering advice and sharing stories from decades at the top of the sport.

When we visited, Keith Foulke was lending a hand to the ground crew.

“How was it for you to help groom not only your son, but some of your former teammates’ sons as well?” Jacobson asked him.

“It was incredible,” Foulke said. “Being a big leaguer is great, but there are a lot of struggles. we are that mentor and we’re proud of it.”

The kids say there are also ups and downs to having their dads around so much.

“It’s really fun, but it’s also really crappy,” Kade Foulke said. “It really helps me, you know, in every aspect of the game, but at the same time, it’s almost always on me, you know.”

“The other day, I had Kade’s dad try to help me work on some, like, throwing moves and I had Manny’s dad come over and help me in a cage and he saw some things that my dad was trying to explain me and I wasn’t writing in a way that I understood,” said Jaden Sheffield.

“Sometimes you don’t like listening to your dad,” Martinez Jr. said.

These potential next-generation baseball stars don’t expect special treatment, but have found comfort in teammates who know exactly what they’re going through.

“What keeps it really human is the fact that we can make jokes about it,” Martinez Jr. said. “Just keep it very normal because we’re human.”

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