When Willson Contreras walked toward the batter’s box in the first inning Saturday, he was greeted by a handshake, hug and a familiar face: his brother, William.
For the first time in the big leagues, the Contreras brothers were on the same field, playing in the same game. To say it was a special moment would be massively understating it.
“The best moment of our life, including my family, mom and dad,” Willson said. “Everything that we went through to get here, now we get to enjoy together.”
Their parents were among the 40,755 fans at Wrigley Field for Braves vs. Cubs, wearing special ‘Obvious Shirts’ that read “Contreras Mom,” and “Contreras Dad” — a theme that extended to other family members in attendance.
After greeting William at the plate, Willson was overcome with emotion as he stepped into the batter’s box to face Atlanta starter Kyle Wright. It was the first time he saw his brother play in person since William was in Little League.
“I was almost in tears in my first at-bat,” Willson said. “As the older brother, seeing your younger brother playing against you, it means a lot, especially knowing all the work that he has put in.
“I’m really proud of that.”
Willson quickly fell behind in the count 0-2 before locking it back in. He smashed a single to right field.
“I was like, ’F---.’ I had to refocus,” Willson said. “I was like, ‘Okay, this guy's good but I think I'm gonna beat you.’ And I'm glad that I was able to make contact.”
For as momentous as Saturday was, the brothers didn’t talk much on the field, Willson said.
“We went about our business,” Willson said. “We're brothers who love each other, but we’re still professionals. I still have to respect my team; he has to respect his team and respect baseball.”
That showed in both of their performances. Willson has played with energy and a high motor his entire career, and Saturday was no different.
He went 3-for-5, including a smash up the middle that he turned into a hustle double. He also took an extra base on a single earlier in the game.
Willson also added a stolen base off William on a designed Cubs play with runners on the corners. It still counts, though.
"That's one-nothing," Willson said, laughing.
William, who singled in his first at-bat, also had a good day at the plate, finishing 2-for-4 with a double, but Willson was not to be outdone.
“I didn't want to get beat by my younger brother,” said a smiling Willson, who improved his OPS to .934 Saturday. “I'm pretty sure that he was thinking the same thing.”
William is still in the early stage of his big-league career — Saturday was his 85th game — but demonstrated the eye of a veteran in his first at-bat. He laid off a pair of “nasty” Justin Steele sliders before singling to right field.
“That tells me a lot about him,” Willson said.
Speaking of Steele, Willson entrusted him a unique task: pitch-calling when William was at the plate.
“I was joking with him,” Willson said, “‘Call your game against my brother, because if he gets a base hit, it won’t be [on] me.”
Said Steele: “Before the game he was like, ‘Hey, it’s your pitch-calling against my brother. I'm not calling a pitch. It’s strictly what you want to throw.
“That was kind of funny when he told me that.”
A funny moment during a day years in the making. The Cubs signed Willson as an international free agent out of Venezuela in 2009, when he was 17 years old.
Atlanta signed William in 2015, when he too was 17.
Saturday is a day their family will remember and take pride in forever.
“I always think about my childhood experience, everything that we lived [through] in Venezuela, and how the world has changed, how our life has changed,” Willson said.
“But it's something that we work for, and now we're taking really good pride in it.”