Rocco Baldelli has accumulated a multitude of game balls throughout his MLB career, but the one he received Sept. 11 for achieving his 200th win as a manager might be his most cherished yet.
"That one, I can take home and maybe even put in the baby's room," Baldelli said. "That would be a good place for it. Not every one gets a little display, or you don't do some fancy for all of them. But that one I will, for sure."
Except he might relabel it "first win as a dad."
Baldelli and his wife, Allie, welcomed daughter Louisa Sunny on Sept. 6. And while this is the couple's first child, the Twins have surrounded them with a wealth of parenting resources. Baldelli said he chatted with players like Mitch Garver, whose son Gamble Lynn is about 7 weeks old, and Josh Donaldson, who has 10-month-old daughter Aubrey Neil.
"We have a lot of parents here. We've got some guys that are young guys that have a few kids and are good parents from everything that I've ever seen," Baldelli said. "I can learn something from our players in this instance. That's on top of all of our staff members that have families and kids and stuff like that. I'm coming into a spot where it's not short on insight and help."
Garver, though, told Baldelli the dirty little secret all parents keep: They're all just kind of winging it.
"They had like three or four weeks left, [Baldelli] would come ask me a bunch of questions like, 'Hey, what about this? Or what about this?' Like I know what I'm doing?" Garver joked. "I don't have the answers to all this stuff."
Garver did say the joys of parenting really are just that — even every diaper change and spit-up situation and bath time — because it's his kid. And having one of his own really did alter his perspective on life.
Miguel Sano knows that feeling well, as he became a father for the fourth time in August when his wife gave birth to daughter Danea.
"When you have a family, a lot changes," Sano said. "We try to compete more and try to do more for our family. When you have a baby, that's something amazing."
Tyler Duffey, whose son Teddy is about 1 ½ years old, said balancing baseball and home life can have its challenges. Like when facing a 10-day road trip and realizing he'd rather stay home to spend time with his family and help his wife with their son. But the job also provides some really cool moments; his wife points Duffey out during a game, and Teddy claps and smiles.
"I'm excited for the day when kids can come back inside and be here, and I can take him on the field and stuff," Duffey said in May. "That's what I'm looking forward to."
Garver said it didn't really hit him how much he'd changed until he came back to the team after becoming a dad.
"I used to be a baseball player, like, that's my life, that's what I do," Garver said. "Now it's like, I just play baseball, but my life is at home."
No matter how the game ends, even if it's a bad loss, Garver just finds himself excited to go home. It also has him looking forward to the offseason, when the family can finally move together into the new home they bought in Colorado and start their life there.
Baldelli's priorities have changed a bit, too. Now it's not just baseball questions that occupy his mind. He also analyzes the pros and cons of a smart, self-rocking bassinet.
"The real topic is now do you get the Snoo or do you not get the Snoo?" Baldelli said. "That's really what we're talking about at the moment."