PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Baseball from February to October leaves little time for family, so the off-season is filled with making up for lost time for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
“I went to Mexico and brought my mom,” said Pirates’ catcher Russell Martin.
That’s right, tough guy Russell Martin took his mom, along with his girlfriend, and another couple and their baby. To Mexico, not too many guys would invite mom along.
“To get her to go, I had to tell her we needed her to come to babysit the baby; otherwise, she wouldn’t want to come because she would feel like she was intruding,” said Martin.
Travis Snider was also in Mexico.
“My annual vacation to Cabo,” he said. “My wife is from there and we were recently married.”
They were married on Jan. 30 to be exact.
“Her family has a restaurant next to my family’s timeshare and we’ve been going there since we were kids,” he said. “So, it’s kind of cool knowing her family as long as I have.”
Born last May, Charlie Morton didn’t get to see a lot of his son, Charles Alfred Morton V, during the baseball season. So, he spent the off-season immersed.
Morton: “He’s taught me a lot in 10 months there’s nothing like it.”
KDKA’s John Shuwmay: “Do you do the diapers?”
Morton: “I do some.”
Jason Grilli took the family and sought the peaceful seclusion of Costa Rica for a vacation.
However, he says he quickly learned that “Pittsburgh fans are everywhere.”
Which he doesn’t mind, but what he spent most of his off-season doing was intensely being a dad to his two boys.
“We get down and dirty,” said Grilli. “We’re in the pool diving, wrestling, throwing balls; whatever we can get into trouble. It kind of brings out the little kid in me, makes me want to be that crazy, wild dad, and my wife has to tone it back and say, ‘Hey, you know you’re the father, remember.’”
Finally, throwing fire, never knowing when one might come back at your head, would be enough of a thrill in life for most men, but not Pirates pitcher Mark Melancon.
His off-season swimming with the sharks in New Zealand prompted the shark tank designation for the Pirates bullpen.
Well, this off-season, it was off to Africa; first, to work with kids as an MLB ambassador.
“Whole different perspective for me seeing these kids come from the middle of nowhere, and probably never seen a baseball field, but had been practicing on dirt and trying to better their game,” said Melancon. “It just uplifted me and showed me that we don’t need this perfectly green grass, we don’t need the mounds to be exactly the right shape and size. Kids were so happy and excited to be there.”
And since the Melancons were in Africa, they decided to go on a safari.
They did it up right. One photo shows a black rhino sizing up the Pirates’ shutdown specialist.
He also says elephants came within 20 feet.
“They said if you stand up in the jeep, the elephant would charge, and we saw at one point an elephant’s ears get big and that’s the first sign of you better be careful,” said Melancon.
There was close contact with some tiger cubs.
Melancon said he had a really great time.
“I think any kid, every kid wants to go on a safari at some point, and I was just a big kid out there, really enjoying myself,” he added.