A family photo reminds El Profe of the promise of spring

Each Saturday, El Profe digs into moments in baseball history captured by a camera lens. These Iconic Images stir the soul, capturing more than a moment in a game.Today, El Profe looks ahead to the promise of a new season with family in mind.

For baseball fans, February is redeemed by the fact that it is when Major League Baseball begins its return. Pitchers and catchers report to Arizona and Florida. Training camps are the setting for baseball’s own version of family reunions. Retired players and Hall of Famers visit. Some return as coaches. Others make brief visits.

Those in camp enjoy revisiting the bonds forged over the years that made them members of the same baseball family.

When Puerto Rican fans hear “baseball family,” the Alomars quickly come up. This photo of the Alomars in particular brings this to mind. It’s of father Sandy between sons Roberto (left) and Sandy, Jr., (right) at the 1990 All-Star Game.

The 1990 contest at Wrigley Field was a family reunion for the Alomars. The Midsummer Classic was the first All-Star appearance for the Alomar brothers. That their father could join them in Chicago made the festivities all the more special.

All three had been together in the San Diego Padres organization from 1985 through 1989. But the reality of the baseball business meant that their baseball journey would take them on distinct paths. This is part of what made the photo of them together at the All-Star Game so special.

Sandy, Jr., had joined the Padres organization first, signing as an amateur free agent in October 1983. Younger brother Roberto signed in February 1985. Their father was hired by the Padres as a coach for the Class A Charleston team in the South Atlantic League, where the three spent the 1985 season.

Roberto quickly rose through the Padres system, making his major league debut on April 22, 1988. His older brother joined him later that season, debuting on Sept. 30.

A Baseball Family Snapshot

Most baseball fans know the Alomars had multiple generations play in the big leagues. The family’s baseball roots go even deeper.

Both side of the elder Alomar’s family – the Alomar and Conde families – played professional baseball. His older brothers Rafael and Antonio played in the minor leagues in the mid-1950s. On his maternal Conde side, Ceferino “Cefo” Conde was an ace pitcher in the Puerto Rican Winter League from its inaugural 1938 campaign through 1953.

I love that the photo of them feels like a candid. Indeed, photographers have to be extra vigilant during All-Star Game festivities to capture such a moment.

All three are not directly gazing into the camera. Rather, it seems they were quickly brought together as the two brothers, on opposing sides in the game, partake in pregame drills.

Sandy, Jr., has a batting helmet under his left arm, perhaps on his way to take his cuts in the batting cage. He was making his All-Star Game debut. An off-season trade to Cleveland meant he was no longer blocked by fellow Puerto Rican catcher Benito Santiago in the Padres’ organization.

Wearing a Padres mesh uniform top, Roberto’s focus is elsewhere. His smile shows that he is happy to share this family moment together with his father and his big brother. After all, this was a historical moment, the first time two Puerto Rican brothers were named All-Stars.

Then there is the proud father flanked by his two sons. He clearly understood the significance of the moment. He had made only one All-Star team during his 15-year career. Now he was on the field at Wrigley with his two sons as they prepared to face off as representatives of the American and National League squads.

This is a family album moment, one worthy of preserving. It is a photo that makes me look forward to spring training and more baseball family reunions.

Featured Image: Bettman