PHOENIX -- Four years ago, Rod Barajas and his wife Stacie moved from the Phoenix area to San Diego. It was during the heat of the summer and Rod was off playing baseball, so Stacie had the movers do the packing and handle the move.
That offseason, Barajas wanted to wear his World Series ring from 2001 when he helped the D-backs defeat the Yankees in a thrilling seven games.
"We couldn't find it," Barajas said.
That was the only World Series Barajas had played in, and the ring -- which was in a little red jewelry bag along with a World Series pendant he had made for Stacie -- meant a great deal to him.
"That's one of those items that you collect in your life that has a lot of meaning and a lot of special memories with it," said Barajas, who homered and hit .400 in five at-bats against the Yankees. "To not be able to find it was definitely nerve-wracking."
Barajas felt hopeful when the couple moved from their rented house into a home they bought in San Diego. They took all the boxes that had been in storage and began to sort through them all on a mission to find the jewelry.
No ring. No pendant.
"We talked about buying a new one and talked to the jeweler who made them," Barajas said. "We honestly thought we had lost it, that it was gone."
Last week Stacie's grandmother, Frances Higashi, passed away at the age of 93. It was a difficult loss for both Rod and Stacie.
"She was extremely special to my wife," Barajas said. "My wife lived with her for a little bit of her life. She meant a lot to her, she helped raise her, learned a lot from her grandmother.
"When I came around, she welcomed me immediately. When I came into the picture it was like I had grown up with her too, like I had known her since I was a little one. Just an unbelievably caring woman, always smiling, always happy. She was a huge baseball fan."
Higashi meant so much to Barajas that he took a day away from his battle to win the backup catching spot with the D-backs to fly to Northern California for the funeral.
Before leaving the couple's home in San Diego, Stacie tried on a pair of shoes she had not worn in years. She tried one foot on, determined it matched her outfit and packed both shoes for the trip.
While getting ready at the hotel just before the funeral, Stacie put on both shoes for the first time. Only there was a problem with the one she hadn't tried on before she left. There was something in the toe blocking her foot.
"I was getting ready and my wife yelled out, 'Guess what I just found?'" Barajas said. "We're in a hotel room and I'm like, what could you find in a hotel room?"
As it turns out, you can find a 2001 World Series ring and pendant.
"She walked out with the ring and pendant and we both looked at each other and I said, 'That was your grandmother. Your grandmother grabbed that and put it there for us. One last gift that she gave us before she left,'" Barajas said.
Sure, Barajas knows that it sounds a little far-fetched and that some will chalk it up to a coincidence and nothing else.
To Rod and Stacie, though, it meant so much more, and not because they recovered two valuable pieces of jewelry.
"It was just one of those moments where you felt like anything is possible," Barajas said. "You're just amazed because we both honestly feel like her grandmother played a part in that. She knew doing that would have an impact on us. Not just because we found the ring, but because it showed us she's still around. I don't want to get too deep into it, but people watch over you and take care of you. That's just kind of how we felt."