5/10/2013 10:00 A.M. ET
Jerry Jr. calls mom the 'anchor' of Hairston family
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
LOS ANGELES -- As a third-generation Major Leaguer, DNA tests are not necessary to determine where Jerry Hairston Jr. gets his baseball ability.
But Hairston will tell you that's only half of his bloodlines.
"My mother is the anchor of our family," said Hairston Jr.
Jerry Hairston Sr. played more than a decade in the Major Leagues, plus nearly as many years in the summer and winter leagues of Mexico. His father, Sam Hairston, was part of the group of pioneers that followed Jackie Robinson from the Negro Leagues to the Major Leagues. Sam's brother, Johnny, also reached the Major Leagues briefly.
Jerry Jr. and brother Scott, now with the Cubs, made the Hairstons baseball's third three-generation family, joining the Boones (Ray, Bob, Bret and Aaron) and Bells (Gus, Buddy, David and Mike).
But Jerry Jr. is quick to point out, especially on this Mother's Day, don't forget Esperanza. Dad met Mom when he was playing in Hermosillo. The couple married at Hector Espino Stadium, where the Naranjeros played. They had five Mexican-American children, including Jerry and Scott.
And as Dad lived the nomadic life of a utility man, bouncing around the United States in the summer and supplementing his income on the dusty Mexican fields in the winter, Mom was "the glue," as Jerry Jr. puts it.
"The wife of a Major League player, you have the role of mother and father," said the Dodgers' utility man. "Dad traveled, Mom raised five children. Mom had all the roles, and to this day, I value what I saw her do. The more I read the scripture and the more I read about God, the more I realize that being a mother is the greatest honor on earth. She did an unbelievable job keeping the family together in a loving way."
When his parents met, Mom was a teacher, but once the children arrived, she set aside that career for something even more noble.
"Her family was the No. 1 priority," he said. "That's why we are as close a family as we are. Every one of us is successful in the paths we've taken."
For Jerry Jr. and Scott, that was baseball.
"Mom took us to Little League practice," Jerry Jr. recalled. "She was always there. As a child remembering, and now as a parent myself, that's the biggest thing a parent can do. Be there. We never had to wonder where our mother was. Father's role was to be the provider. She was always there, and as a child you can't ask for anything more."
The Hairstons eventually settled in Chicago, where Jerry Sr. played for the White Sox and still works for owner Jerry Reinsdorf. But from 1978-81, while Dad played exclusively in Mexico, the family lived in Hermosillo before moving to Texas.
With Mom being a former teacher, it only figured that Jerry Jr. would go on to college, and he played two years at Southern Illinois University before being drafted in the 11th round and signed with the Orioles in 1997. He said Mom supported his decision to sign instead of completing his degree.
"I can always go back to school," said Jerry Jr. "She knows the game of baseball. She knows you've got to be young to start out in this game. But she's also encouraged me to think about my future. So you see me on the MLB [Network] and ESPN, developing my broadcasting skills. With her encouragement, that's part of my education too.
"She's always made sure I'm bettering myself. She's always been the backbone of the family, and that's the best compliment a mother can get."
Jerry Jr. is known as one of the most personable, articulate players in the game, hence the aspirations of broadcasting. Earlier this year, however, he showed another side, earning an ejection and one-game suspension for his role defending teammate Zack Greinke in the brawl in San Diego.
"I get my feistiness and sense of humor from Mom," he said. "Dad is more serious, more like Scott. I'm more gregarious, Mom's the same way."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.