Jacob Faria and I have more than baseball in common. We both recently lost our grandfathers and hold them in high esteem. Our commonality allowed me to fully comprehend the aim of his guest post. Because, as human beings, our personal lives are so intertwined with our professional ones, it’s impossible to completely compartmentalize. Faria illuminates this blend of family and baseball below.
My grandfather, Joe Elias Faria, always told me that his dream was to see the name “Faria” on the back of an MLB jersey.
He had big dreams for me and supported me unconditionally. I promised him I would always try my best to fulfill that dream. On June 7th, 2011, I remember sitting in my living room, my parents next to me. I sat with two computers side by side, anxiously refreshing nonstop as the draft took place. In the 10th round of the 2011 MLB draft, the Tampa Bay Rays made my dream of becoming a professional baseball player a reality and put me one step closer to fulfilling that promise to my grandfather.
That moment was one of the happiest times in my life. However, I can’t help but compare where I was to the position of another 17 year old. 56 years ago, in 1959, my grandfather immigrated to America from Portugal. He looked to not only give himself an opportunity to live the American dream, but he wanted his future family to have the same opportunities.
My grandfather was a hardworking, humble man. He is absolutely my hero. He came to the US and found a job as a janitor in auto body shop in Artesia, California. He worked his way up from those humble origins to run the shop himself for more than 40 years. Eventually, he turned it into a shopping center.
He was always vocal about supporting me, but the important lessons he taught me had nothing to do with baseball, and they were the ones he didn’t need to say verbally. He came to this country with nothing and became a successful business man through hard work and treating people with respect. I learned, by watching him, the importance of those two simple principles. It has helped me tremendously in my career and my life.
One of the lessons my grandfather imparted was that people will forget what you do, but they’ll never forget how you made them feel. Every day I put on the uniform, I strive to be the absolute best I can be, taking those steps towards seeing the name on the back of an MLB jersey. But when I hang up the cleats, I know that people will remember what I did off the field and who I am as a person. It’s nice to have the success on the field, but I’m blessed enough to have been given a platform where I can do more than just play baseball. I want to be able to have as much as an impact off the field as I do on the field.
It is easy to get caught up in the baseball world. It takes effort to remember where you come from. My grandfather never forgot where he started, and he’s passed that along to me. Whether it’s taking time out to sign autographs, to say thank you to a fan, or to spend some time with people in a different place in their lives, I try to have the same attitude that he did.
I am incredibly thankful to have had a great man in my life who taught me all these things, and who put me in the position I am in today. My grandfather unfortunately passed away in February of 2014. Though he isn’t here to see me physically, I know that he always has the best seat in the house for every one of my games. I hope to make him proud of everything I do, whether it’s on the field or off of it.