Cubs fans who have seen the fiery side of Willson Contreras for the past several seasons got to see a softer version Thursday evening as he presented lineup card to his opponents. That’s because his younger brother, William Contreras, was doing the same thing for the Braves. What made it all the more special was that William had just called his big brother that afternoon to break the news that he’d been called back up.
After getting 185 plate appearances and racking up eight homers last season as an injury replacement for Travis d’Arnaud, the younger Contreras made Atlanta’s Opening Day roster. That was really only a cookie, as he played in one game before heading back to Triple-A to further hone his catching skills. But Manny Piña hitting the IL meant a family reunion was possible.
“He told me that he was called up again, and ever since then I got very emotional,” Willson told reporters after the game. “I told him the best way to make my parents proud was taking the cards out together.”
This is the first time the two brothers have played against each at this level, hence the emotion. With that out of the way, however, it sounds like the competitive aspect of their relationship is going to take over in the future.
“A special moment in my life,” William said. “Truly kind of a dream come true for us to be able to share the field together in just a very unique moment for us and my family.
“It’s been something that I’ve longed for and wanted for years. The next thing we’re looking forward to is when we play at the same time against each other.”
That embrace at home plate was about more than just brothers playing against one another, it was about two professional athletes who beat extraordinary odds to reach the highest level of their sport. Coming from Venezuela and just making it to the point where you can be signed by an MLB club, let alone get promoted to the majors, is a huge deal.
So for Willson, who paved the way for William and showed his little brother what it took, that moment Thursday night was all the more fulfilling.
“I tried to share all my experiences with my brother, so he knows what road to take,” added Willson. “I taught him to learn the culture, learn the language, because that’s the fundamental for [us to adapt] to a different country. And now that we got to play together, against each other…that’s something that we will never forget.”
These two will no doubt face each other many more times before their careers are over, each time with a little less fanfare than the last. My only hope is that I get to write about some of those matchups as a result of the elder Contreras still being in a Cubs uniform for them.