ARLINGTON, Texas — Anthony Santander is a good son, but even good sons forget to call home every so often. In the midst of a 162-game grind of a baseball season, the travel days can turn into blurs, and with it, the long-distance video calls become less frequent.
At points this season, when the Orioles outfielder’s parents were in Venezuela waiting for a visa approval that would allow them to return to the United States, two or three days would pass. Then he’d ring, somewhat sheepishly, knowing what was awaiting him.
“Oh, who are you?” Santander’s mother, Yoleida, would joke. “I don’t remember having a son.”
But then Roger, Santander’s father, and Yoleida would want to know every detail of what they missed since the last call.
Much of this season was unusual for Santander. Since breaking into the major leagues for Baltimore in 2017, he’s never had a stretch as long as this year without his parents living alongside him in America. He values their presence; they adore watching him live out a dream.
They returned to Baltimore midway through September, however, bringing Santander a sense of contentment — and the joy of eating his mother’s cooking — that has carried him through the final month of the campaign and into Tuesday’s Game 3 of the American League Division Series. Finally, all feels normal again.
“I missed them, of course,” Santander said. “To have your parents is something special. Unfortunately, it was out of our hands, and I tried to not put that in my mind, to not be sad or mad, because I didn’t have them. I don’t want that personal stuff getting into my professional. I accept that. But thank God, right now they’re with me.”
Santander’s parents hardly miss a game at Camden Yards. They watched their son all through the rebuild as he became a centerpiece of a 100-loss team. And now, finally, they get to see their son as a key member of a 101-win club that reached the playoffs for the first time since 2016.
Roger and Yoleida were at the first two games of the ALDS at Camden Yards, and they flew to Arlington, Texas, hoping the season doesn’t end here. They missed plenty of it already while in Venezuela.
While they still watched each game, it was harder to be there for their son. So when the parents received their visas, Yoleida urged Santander to move up the timing of their flights. They were originally set to return for the final homestand. Instead, Yoleida made herself clear: She wanted to arrive in time for a critical series against the Tampa Bay Rays.
“OK, you’re the boss,” Santander said. “Let me figure out the tickets.”
He booked last-minute flights, set to depart in two days.
“They were ready,” Santander said, and his parents returned in Baltimore on Sept. 13. They arrived at Santander’s apartment before he had left the ballpark, and when Santander arrived at the base of the building and asked his girlfriend to come down to let him in, his mother joined.
She couldn’t wait another moment to see her son again.
“My mom, of course, she had to be down,” Santander said. “She can’t wait for me in the apartment. She took the elevator, wait for me, give me a surprise. And she hugged me all the way to the apartment.”
They’re back together. Santander won’t forget to video call them; he sees his parents each day instead. And when they’re by his side, all seems well.