BRONX, NY The teenager thought he could get away with it. Maybe, just maybe, he could pull one over on his father.
That plan didnt go so well. At all.
Cecilio Gomez was strict. As a military official in the Dominican Republic for over 20 years, he taught his children discipline and the value of education. Mauro, the oldest of three siblings, understood his fathers rules. There were times, though, when he wanted to be like the rest of his 13-year-old friends and miss a few days of school to play baseball.
Not in the Gomez household.
I remember one time he woke me up to go to school, Gomez told CSNNE.com. He went to work so I kept sleeping. When he came back, my mother told him I didnt go to school. He yelled at me, and it never happened again.
The discipline enforced by his father is one of the reasons why Gomez recounted the story from his locker in the Boston Red Sox visiting clubhouse in Yankee Stadium on Saturday, shortly after being called up from Triple-A Pawtucket.
The infielder knew early on that he wanted to pursue a career in baseball. At age 13, he started preparing for tryouts three years down the road. At 16, scouts began to take notice. By the time he was 18, the Texas Rangers signed him as an amateur free agent.
Growing up in the city of Bani, where baseball is a focal point of the community, Gomez found it difficult at times to split his attention between school and baseball when all he wanted to do was play the sport he loved.
It was a little bit hard, he said. I hated going to school, I just wanted to play baseball. When I was 15, I said, Hey dad, no more school. I just want to play baseball. He said, no. Youve got to finish. So I kept trying and kept trying.
Gomez continued his education until he signed. Looking back now at 27 years old, he believes staying in school has given him an advantage in his baseball career.
He played six years in the Rangers minor league system before signing with the Atlanta Braves in 2009. After two seasons in the Double-A and Triple-A levels, Gomez joined the Boston Red Sox in February. He made his Major League debut on May 13.
It makes you a better person, Gomez said of staying in school. I have good discipline. ... I understand the culture here. I just do what I have to do. I listen to the coach and veterans like Big Papi (David Ortiz), Adrian (Gonzalez), Pedey (Dustin Pedroia). I think thats going to help me.
Gomez was called up from the Pawtucket Red Sox on Saturday after pitcher Felix Doubront was placed on the 15-day disabled list. He immediately began mingling with his teammates, from fellow rookies to veteran players, when he arrived at Yankee Stadium.
Ortiz grinned as he talked about Gomez, praising his willingness to listen and eagerness to seek out advice. Gomez often asks him for tips on offense.
Thats my boy, said Ortiz. We try to teach him how to do the right thing, and this a game where consistency is the number one key for you to succeed here. At the stage where he is, its something where its still a learning process. He wants to make sure that hes at the right place at the right time doing the right thing so he can continue his career at this level.
He continued, Everybody that comes to this level tries to learn the best thing to do so you can stay here longer. The military, its something thats a process and hes trying to figure out things, which is a great thing now. Its something thats going to keep him around longer and give him the opportunity to have a wonderful career.
As a teenager, Gomez wanted to do one thing and one thing only. Taking the field as a member of the Red Sox 14 years later, he appreciates his fathers discipline and enforcement of education. And because he listened, now he gets to play ball every day.