It’s a common tale: Father introduces son to baseball, giving them a shared bond that grows as they get older and their love for the game gets stronger.
However, it’s not so common when the son goes on to star in a World Series run at 21 years old.
That’s exactly what happened when Nationals outfielder Juan Soto helped lead Washington to the franchise’s first championship in team history and D.C.’s first since 1924. In attendance for many of his big moments were his dad, Juan José Soto, and his mom, Belkis Pacheco, cheering him on like any other parent attending their kid’s baseball games.
Father’s Day is coming up and while the Soto family won’t be able to watch their young phenom play in any baseball games, they have a playoff run full of memories to look back on.
It all started at the Wild Card Game, when Juan hit a go-ahead single in the bottom of the eighth against the Milwaukee Brewers to give Washington a sudden 4-3 lead after trailing for the entire game. The Nationals’ bullpen held on and punched the team’s ticket to the NLDS in exciting fashion.
As the team celebrated on the field, Juan José ran to his son at home plate and tackled him to the ground.
Juan Soto getting celebratory tackled by his dad is so amazing. pic.twitter.com/8atUzu4Ck2— Cut4 (@Cut4) October 2, 2019
The hit might have been one of Juan’s favorite moments from the postseason, but it’s easy to see why that tackle would be right up there as well.
Juan José and Belkis had to return home to the Dominican Republic after the win over Milwaukee, but they watched both the NLDS and NLCS on TV and sent messages encouraging their son. Luckily for them, the Soto family would have another chance to watch their son in person as the Nationals made it into the World Series.
Ahead of Game 1, Juan Jose was full of emotion as he prepared to watch his son play in the most important game of his life.
“This means so much, it’s an honor that you don’t get every day, and we wanted to make sure to be here as a family to support him, and this is all a blessing from God, he has worked so hard and has earned it,” Juan José said to ABC7 in Houston.
A few days later, the Nationals returned home to D.C. with a 2-0 series lead. Juan was preparing for the game like any other player on the team, but this game was special: it was his 21st birthday.
“My dad told me when I was 10 years old that one day I’d be playing in the World Series on my birthday,” Juan said, as quoted by Sports Illustrated. “And now here it is happening.”
However, the Nationals lost Game 3 as Soto went 0-4 with a walk and three strikeouts. Washington then dropped each of the next two games, sending the series back to Texas with the Nationals on the brink of losing everything.
They staved off elimination in Game 6, setting the stage for a Game 7—one of the most pivotal situations in all of sports, where winning means championship glory and losing means an offseason of “so close.” Juan José knew his son needed all the help he could get, so he made a few signs reminiscent of those brought to Little League games for his family to hold up throughout the contest.
And then it happened. The Nationals managed to make one more comeback, finishing off an improbable run keyed by a young star who still lived with his parents. Of course, Juan had to share a moment with them after the game.
Juan Soto with his family is everything. pic.twitter.com/67UgpNK6Uf— MLB (@MLB) October 31, 2019
What started as a game of catch with dad resulted in World Series glory. If you ask Juan how he made it to that moment, he’ll tell you it’s all owed to his family.
“They give me the love I need,” Juan said after the Wild Card Game. “If I’m good, if I'm bad, they always been right there for me. They are everything.”
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