By Toni-Marie Olivas
Wife to Carlos Olivas

It’s been a long day. In my attempt to save money, I had at least 2 layovers, maybe 3. Flying into small towns is expensive and we had to save money. I’m anxious to get to my destination… Great Falls, Montana.

All I want is to see my boyfriend waiting for me at the terminal. We had been apart for at least 6 weeks and this was our first year in baseball. Remember, this is baseball, and things don’t always work out as we’d like.

Who’s waiting to pick me up??? I’m not even sure? You see, Carlos was living with a host family this year and his team was on their way back from a road trip. His host family was going to pick me up. But I had no idea who this person was or what they looked like. I guess I stuck out like a fish out of water because Terry, his host “father”, found me right away. This airport had only 2 gates so it wasn’t hard.

I say “father” because Carlos wasn’t a player. He’s the Athletic Trainer. So his host family wasn’t a typical host family. He was older, had a vehicle, and didn’t really need anyone to look after him. He just needed a place to sleep.

The ride from the airport to the house wasn’t long but it was very awkward. I arrived at the house and he showed me to our apartment. Carlos was living in their basement apartment. This was nice because we had our own space. There was even a little kitchen so I could cook a little bit. Carlos got in late that night or early that morning. It was so nice to see him and hold each other again.

Host families are so wonderful and necessary at those beginning levels. Many times these guys are fresh out of high school living away from home with no idea how to be a responsible person. They pick these guys up from the airport, take them to appointments, feed them, and if the guys are lucky, their host mom will do their laundry. They pack lunches for them to take to the ballpark, send them with snacks and pillows on the bus for long road trips, and cheer them on at almost every game. They bid on their jersey’s when auctioned off for fund raisers and wear them proudly to the next games.

I spend at least an hour after the game waiting for Carlos. He’s usually one of the last people to leave. It’s so interesting to sit back and watch the guys interact with their host families. They even try and speak their language to communicate with them. (Many times the players don’t know much, if any English and take a class at the stadium during the home stands). They become part of these families. And year after year these families open up their homes and their hearts to the boys of baseball.

But I’ve also seen these players support their host family. Last season Carlos was running an 8K in Spokane. It was sponsored by the Spokane Indians and many of the ballpark staff was there. As the runners lined up we noticed about 5 players. These races start early (7am) so at first I thought the team asked them to make an appearance. I soon realized that they were there with their host mom. They came to cheer her on. They cheered her on as she started the race and were right there at the finish line with cheers and hugs. It was so great to see them reciprocate the support.

It’s been 11 years since my first experience with a host family. And now that we’re back up in Double-A they don’t use/need them anymore. But I know if my son was leaving to pursue his dream at 18 years old I would want him to have some “family” to look after him.


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2 Comments

  1. Thanks for the memories of your story!! It doesn't seem at all possible that it could be 11 years since you & Carlos were with us here in Great Falls! This is our 28th year of being Host Parents and we are so glad that the two of you could be a part of that legacy.... "Fred" :):)

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  2. I love our host families here in WV! They are such a great group of people, and do so much for the players.

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