As the truncated 60-game MLB season gets underway, we're keeping our eye on the athletes' personal lives. Check out these super cute romances that are truly in a league of their own.
"Take me out to the balllllllll game…"
Okay, fine, it's on the couch. We'll bring our own peanuts and Cracker Jacks. We don't care because, as every new beer, snack food and sneaker commercial is giddily proclaiming, sports are finally back, baby! The NBA tipped off their restart from the Orlando bubble on Thursday and Major League Baseball is already a week-and-a-half deep into the truncated 60-game regular season.
Of course, the 2020 version of baseball is a whole new ball game, not quite the sun-drenched, beer-soaked stadium outings of yore. The piped-in generic cheering is admittedly a bit odd, pitchers have to be reminded not to lick their fingers between throws, and there's the worry that they're just one more COVID-19 diagnosis from full collapse.
But, for now, things are off and running, with athletes masking up and adhering to the new batch of rules outlined in a 101-page guide. The Miami Marlins are hopeful they've reeled in their current outbreak, postponing games and quarantining in place for the time being. And we're all adjusting to the 2020 way of playing ball.
Because the cardboard cutout fans are kinda entertaining as is seeing managers angrily hash it out with umpires while maintaining proper social distance. And who wasn't amused watching Cubs' first baseman Anthony Rizzo dutifully pass out hand sanitizer to his opponents?
Plus, there's plenty to root, root, root for off the field—with some of baseball's biggest players moonlighting as dedicated family men with their at-home squads. With romances that are truly in a league of their own, you could say these lucky athletes hit it out of the park.
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By the time the Florida native met the Virginia-bred athlete in 2012, they already had the makings of a power couple. Named the Rookie of the Year in the 2011 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, Upton had long shed her catalog model roots while the baseball pro had won the Pitching Triple Crown, the AL Cy Young Award, the AL Most Valuable Player Award and the Sporting News Player of the Year Award. So he was awash with confidence when he decided to shoot his shot on the set of the MLB 2K12 commercial they were filming, telling his friends he was going to get her number. Only snag, "I had my microphone on and didn't realize," he shared with Us Weekly. He was slightly mortified that she heard, but as he told the mag, "It worked." Five years later, the couple, now parents to 20-month-old Genevieve, wed in Italy mere days after he won the World Series with the Astros. As he put it to People, "It's such a crazy dream-come-true moment and two of those happened within a span of a couple days."
Hailed as the most exciting sports prodigy since LeBron James before he was drafted no. 1 in 2010, the Phillies' $330 million man is busy building a team of his own. Ten months after they welcomed son Krew in August, he and wife of three years, Kayla, announced she is due to give birth to a daughter this December. To hear 2012's NL Rookie of the Year tell it, his high school sweetheart, a former soccer player at Ohio State University, is already an all-star mom. "He's so lucky to have you as his mother and I'm so lucky to be your husband," the right fielder wrote in a November tribute. "Thank you for always being there for me and no matter what always having my back. I love you for the eternities!"
The Yankees newest pitcher had to do quite a bit of heavy lifting to score a date with his future bride. Twelve full months after he met softball player Amy in the UCLA weight room, she finallllly decided to accept his offer. It only required him driving 90 minutes to help her move and arriving with a bouquet of birthday flowers for her mom. Thoughtful through and through, he proposed days after playing in the 2015 All-Star game (alongside her brother, Brandon Crawford), making the most of the break by booking a night away. "It was our week to celebrate his huge accomplishment, yet he still managed to make it about me," she shared with Inside Weddings after their November 2016 Santa Barbara vows. "That pretty much sums up Gerrit." Now he has another someone to dote on, the two welcoming son Caden Gerrit Cole in June, mere days before Cole was to report to Yankee Stadium. "He's a little towhead," he told the New York Post. "He's absolutely adorable. He's got big blue eyes and gosh I just can't stop staring at him."
Cleveland's Silver Slugger recipient—the appropriately nicknamed "Slamtana"—has built up a tribe of his own. "For me family is a blessing," the first baseman told MLB.com of life with bride Brittany, son David, 9, and daughters Savian, 4, and Luna, 2. "Life has its highs and lows, but your family is always there." His brood was on hand to watch the native of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic be sworn in as a U.S. citizen last year and is always ready with hugs no matter if he homers or strikes out. As he put it to La Vida Baseball last summer, "It's a blessing just to have my children. I don't have words to explain why I really enjoy them."
A mere two days after welcoming second daughter Kacey on July 4 last year, the three-time CY Young Award winner got the signal from his wife. "She wants me pitching," Washington's hurler told The Washington Post of the former University of Missouri softball player urging him to get back on the mound for his scheduled start. "We got the in-laws in. We got help. She's a baseball wife. She's a pitcher. She wants me out there competing." She was also the one encouraging him to push past an excruciating trapezius injury ahead of the Nats' World Series-winning game 7 last season. "I have to give my wife a ton of credit for believing in me," the athlete, also dad to Brooklyn, 2, told USA Today Sports. "Even when I was at my worst moment, she had the belief in it. She had this dream as much as anybody."
A year before Verlander made the whole World Series win-wedding double-header trend a thing, Chicago's blue-eyed 2015 Rookie of the Year was marrying high school sweetheart Jessica in their hometown of Las Vegas roughly two months after the Cubs made history. And while their nuptials, complete with endless florals, sparklers and doughnut escort cards, was the stuff of fantasies, the couple's origin story is every bit as dreamy. Now parents to nearly 4-month-old son Kyler, the two were high school athletes back in 2006 when Jessica's mom mentioned the cute boy that was playing on her brother's baseball team. "I told her to stop," she recalled to Martha Stewart Weddings. "But then I met him and thought, Mom was right."
Some six years after they met as middleschoolers in Bayamón, Puerto Rico, Irmarie was thrown a curveball when the future Cubs shortstop returned to the island from his family's new Florida home and asked her out. A year after that 2013 date, she was packing up for Chicago to join him as he made his MLB debut. Her new life forcing her to take on the roles of cheerleader, assistant, cook (she whips up his favorite dish of rice, beans and carne asada after games) and mom to 2-year-old son Adrian, "People don't understand how hard it is," she told Chicago site Splash. "Our lives are always up in the air." Yet she wouldn't have it any other way. As she wrote on Instagram after the two-time All-Star's April 2018 proposal, "Can't Wait To Spend The Rest Of My Life With You."
Meet Major League Baseball's answer to Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively. Wed for nearly four years—and the parents to Xavier, 3, and Zoe, 12 months—the couple have reached the publicly dragging each other on Twitter stage of their relationship, a sure sign they're confident in their bond. En route to Boston's 2018 World Series win, she trolled him hard when cameras caught the Cy Young award-winning pitcher raking the bull pen, writing, "Funny…I've NEVER seen you do this at home." She has, however, seen the man she met working as a hostess at Miami's Fontainebleau in 2012, tackle another type of clean-up duty. Joked the philanthropist, who led the Red Sox wives' Habitat for Humanity work, "Ever watch your husband go to kill a spider and his approach alone tells you this isn't going to go as planned?"
Well before he signed his $430 million, 12-year contract, the eight-time All-Star, three-time MVP had a tendency to go big. There was the way the Anaheim Angels outfielder first attracted his now-wife, acting up in Spanish class at their New Jersey high school so the teacher would move him to the seat behind her. And the way he proposed, years later, through skywriting. Their December 2017 vows featured some 750 candles and a stack of Christmas gifts the couple donated to hospitals. "It was the biggest, craziest, most awesome and loving day of my life," he said. And their grandest adventure still awaits with Jessica due to give birth to their son any day now. "Little man, you have the best mommy already," he wrote in a March tweet, "and I can't wait to be your dad!
Everyone could use a teammate like law student Arlia. One part stylist (she helped select Bell's much-discussed 'fit for the All-Star festivities last year) and one part gut check, she was the Pirates' first baseman's sounding board when he was contemplating attending a Pittsburgh protest that had devolved into a riot. "My girlfriend said to me, like, 'You're going to make a lot more of an impact with your platform than going to this riot right now. That's how people get hurt. That's where the whole conversation turns bad. If Josh Bell's at a protest, it's a good thing. If Josh Bell's at a riot, that's a terrible thing. That's something that could change your career in a heartbeat,'" the Texas native told reporters. "So, we had that conversation and, from that point on, I reached out to a few guys in the league to start the Social Reform Sunday." More than anything, though, she's his most dedicated fan. As she wrote on Instagram last June, "Watching this guy live out his dreams is up there with my favorite things."
A quick scroll through the PhD student's Insta tells you all you need to know about how thrilled she is to be the White Sox shortstop's bride. When she's not wishing her "fine ass husband" a happy birthday, she's gushing that "Parenthood with you is dope af." (The couple, who met at a University of Alabama tailgate, share daughters Peyton, 4, and Paxton, 16 months.) Perhaps it's that embarrassment of riches that inspires the athlete and the Millennial Mom blogger to help kids in both Chicago and their native Alabama through their charity, Anderson's League of Leaders. Organizing back-to-school haircuts, holiday dinners, baseball camps and mentorship programs, "We're swerving in a lot of lanes," Tim told Sports Illustrated, "but it's a lot of good stuff."
You could say the Dodger's star outfielder found The One right off the bat—dating Brianna since they were 12-year-old middle schoolers in Nashville. Four years after marking their engagement, the Middle Tennessee State University grad gave birth to their daughter Kynlee in November 2018. It came on the heels of the four-time All-Star winning a championship with the Red Sox, collecting American League MVP, Gold Glove and Silver Slugger honors along the way. And if he were asked to compare the two experiences, it wouldn't even be close. Calling Kynlee's arrival a day "forever engraved in my heart," he wrote in an Instagram tribute, "You've come into this world and have shown me what the meaning of 'love' is."
Now with the Atlanta Braves, the leftie was a pitcher on the Clearwater Threshers, the Phillies farm team, when he crossed paths with Survivor's fifth-pace finisher, Heidi Strobel in 2004. After the Drury University grad, who famously stripped down mid-challenge to score some chocolate and peanut butter (which, #relatable), threw out the first pitch, he approached to ask for her autograph and a date. Two years later, they wed on New Year's Eve and by 2008 she was by his side as he collected World Series MVP honors.
For the Kershaws, home isn't in California or even their native Texas, where they met as high schoolers, it's wherever Dad is. Each year the brood of five (married a decade, the duo are parents to daughter Cali, 5, and sons Charley, 3, and Cooper, 6 months) travels between Dallas (their off-season spot), Phoenix (for spring training) and Los Angeles, where the three-time Cy Young award winner has pitched for the Dodgers since 2008. "That's something I really want to instill in our kids, is family comes first," Ellen told the Los Angeles Times in 2017. "So while they're not in school we are going to travel with Dad, and you are all going to learn how to be on plane flights and in different stadiums and in different time zones." The eight-time All-Star has had to be flexible as well. Gone are the days of spending the hours leading up to his start at the mound in quiet contemplation. "He has to wake up and be Dad," noted Ellen, cofounder of their charity Kershaw's Challenge. "The kids don't care if it's game day or not, so they expect him to be all there and he's really been great."
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