10/13/08 11:01 PM ET
Baldelli's family on hand for Game 3
Outfielder's brother among those to witness special home run
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
"It's nice to have [Dante] here," Baldelli said.
And what a game family and friends saw Monday night as Baldelli came through with a three-run homer in the eighth inning that put the Rays up 8-1 and ended any thoughts of a Red Sox comeback in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series.
The boys first joined Baldelli in the dugout, and they remained in the dugout while Baldelli loosened up prior to the game. During that time, both boys experienced some good-natured ribbing from Rays coaches George Hendrick and Steve Henderson.
Baldelli started in right field and hit eighth in the order.
"I just hope he can get some hits today," Dante said. "And that he doesn't have to run too much."
Dante understands that his brother is dealing with the effects of having a mitochondrial disorder, which could possibly sideline Baldelli if he reaches a point of exhaustion.
After Baldelli loosened up, he took the boys out to right field with him during batting practice.
"This is a big thrill for Dante," said Michelle Baldelli, their mother. "And Rocco, too. He loves his brother."
Dante is highly allergic to peanuts, so going to the ballpark can sometimes be a risky venture as even the smell of peanuts can set of an allergic reaction.
Baldelli grew up a Red Sox fan in nearby Woonsocket, R.I., which made Monday night a standout moment.
"To be able to [hit the home run] in front of all my friends and family was very special for me," Baldelli said. "I would check out postseason games every year in the offseason and the postseason when we weren't playing and it was a situation where I was sitting there and saying to myself I want to play in those games. I think that's what every player is waiting for, to play in October when everybody is watching. It makes it all that more special. ... It all came together very nicely tonight."
Count Rays manager Joe Maddon among those who enjoyed the special moment for Baldelli in Game 3.
"I know there's a certain amount of extra emphasis placed on what he does based on coming from Providence area," Maddon said. "I was very happy for him. This young man has really battled to get back to this particular point, along with our trainers and our doctors.
"Ron Porterfield has spearheaded this entire event. He's our head trainer, as well as our doctors, of course. But it always comes down to the athlete to get things done. But to have him do it here in this venue is very special for him and for us."
Also among the Baldelli party were father, Dan, and 24-year-old brother, Nick.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.