The beginning of Willson and William Contreras’ baseball journey included playing on their family’s patio together in Venezuela, with a plastic ball and a piece of a stick as their equipment.
“We used to do that every single day,” Willson, the Cubs catcher, said Tuesday. “We were just kids wanting to play baseball, dreaming of coming to the big leagues, making it into the big leagues and then making the All-Star Game.
“That was our dream.”
A dream that was realized Sunday. William earned his first career All-Star selection and was announced as the replacement DH in the National League starting lineup for the injured Bryce Harper.
The news came three days after Willson was voted in as the National League’s starting catcher.
The Contreras brothers have shared several special moments already this season. They took the same big-league field for the first time in April, exchanging lineup cards and a hug before a Cubs-Braves game.
Last month, they played one another for the first in the majors, when Atlanta visited Wrigley Field, and each delivered impressive performances at the plate.
“Now we’re the All-Star Game starters,” Willson said. “That feels good. I think we're blessed. We’re blessed as a family.”
The Contreras brothers will become only the fifth pair of brothers to start in the same All-Star Game lineup in the same year, and the first since 1992.
And with Braves manager Brian Snitker leading the NL squad, maybe they'll slot in back-to-back lineup spots.
"I would love to hit eight or nine," Willson said, smiling. "I don’t care. It will be amazing to spend the time with my brother on the same field."
Whether July 19 at Dodger Stadium takes the cake as the brothers’ top moment yet, it’s a significant occasion for the family. Willson said his parents are "proud" and have been posting about the All-Star selections and game on their social media accounts.
“Doing this for them, it’s priceless," Willson said.
This is the first season Willson has had his entire family with him in Chicago, making the timing of he and William’s shared achievement even better.
Willson said the entire family is going to the Midsummer Classic, too.
“They deserve it more than I do, especially my mom and dad,” Willson said. “They did everything they could to raise three kids in a poor neighborhood, and that's not an easy job.”
Willson said he hasn’t told William anything about what to expect with the All-Star Game experience. He wants him to experience it for himself without any preexisting notions, as he did.
Said Willson: "I’m just looking forward to enjoying it with him, enjoying as much as we can in the All-Star Game and hopefully many of those come around too."