Ryan Liu/Getty Alex Rodriguez
Alex Rodriguez is recounting his "first and only" reunion with his estranged father.
Speaking to The Athletic about his journey to becoming co-owner of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx, Rodriguez shared how the encounter in 2000 inspired him to purchase the NBA and WNBA teams 21 years later.
Rodriguez reflected on the moment and tweeted Wednesday, "Two decades before I became an owner of the @Timberwolves and @minnesotalynx, I reconnected with my father in the Twin Cities for the first & only time."
The significant visit, which landed on Father's Day that year, marked the first time Rodriguez's father, Victor Rodriguez, had ever seen him play professional baseball. Sixteen years before, Victor abandoned his wife Lourdes, a then 9-year-old Alex, and Alex's two siblings.
Cynthia Scurtis, who was married to the retired MLB star from 2002-2008, coordinated the meeting, which took place at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. At the time, Alex played for the Seattle Mariners.
"You could see people's faces pretty good," Alex recalled. "I certainly saw him. I was very, very nervous and I didn't want to look up."
While purchasing the Timberwolves served as a potentially smart business move, Alex's reunion with Victor (who has since passed away) also seemingly played a factor.
"Every time I think of Minnesota, I think of that moment," said Alex. "It was maybe the most important four days of my life from an emotional point of view to close a loop that had been open and had been a big wound on me that I worked through a lot in therapy over the years."
Scurtis added: "He wanted his dad to be proud of him. I think he wanted to give it the best he had to offer. He wanted to really show him what he could do on the field. I think that it was like coming full circle, the same thing you would do in a Little League game when your dad's in the stands."
Victor shared a similar sentiment in 2004 when he told The New York Post, "I can't describe how honored I was to be there."
The world of baseball was nothing new to the Rodriguez family as Victor previously played in the Dominican professional league. The sport ultimately helped Alex cope with his father abruptly moving to New York while Alex and his family stayed in Miami.
"I always thought that he would go and come back," Alex said. "I was wrong. You learn to survive. Thankfully for me I had a strong mother and two siblings, my brother and sister both older, that played assistant parents."
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Scurtis explained why she encouraged Alex to reconnect with his father and said, "I felt there was an emotional need for him to just see who his father was, good or bad. To at least have that opportunity to make a connection with him again."
"I also knew it was important, but I didn't have the courage to take that on in my early days of my career because I thought it may be disruptive to what I was trying to accomplish," Alex explained.
He and Scurtis, with whom he shares two daughters — 13-year-old Ella and 17-year-old Natasha — determined the Minnesota location was best, but still put boundaries in place in case things "didn't go well." They stayed in a separate hotel from the team to maintain privacy, and Victor's room was on the opposite side of a suite.
"I could still focus on my game and the series," Alex said. "That year we went to the postseason, so every game was very important." He added of seeing his father in the stands, "I was feeling excited, sad and a little angry. I wanted to play really, really well because I wanted to show off and tell him this is what you missed out on for all these years, from 10 to 24. His presence was so overwhelming. For 24 years he hasn't been to four games and now he's at four games in four days. It was a lot mentally and emotionally."
That weekend, the Mariners won three of four games, and Alex scored 8 for 17 (.529) with two home runs, a double, and six RBIs.
Scurtis recalled, "It was the first time that I had seen a man in Alex's presence that, to me, it was very clear what the pecking order was. His father was the dominant male at the table. Alex took a second seat to him. I had never really seen that before and I just thought, Wow, what a different story this could've been if they had met sooner."
While Scurtis kept in touch with Victor afterward, Alex made it clear he couldn't handle further contact and their future interactions never went beyond random encounters.
"I remember when the series was over and he went home and I moved on to the next city that I had found closure in my heart," Alex said. "That was an important milestone for me to get over."
"I felt that they both had missed out on a great opportunity," said Scurtis. "Alex missed out on having a father and his father missed out on having a son. I was just like, Wow, what a shame."