I may have mentioned this before but in case I didn’t, I have four children and the oldest two are boys ages 23 and 20. All four played Little League so when I go to South Bend Cubs games, in addition to enjoying the baseball, I’ve often wondered what it’s like for the parents of the players. Many of the players are in their early twenties so I can’t help but feel a bit of “kinship” with them. The most recent Cubs’ mom I interviewed was the mom of current South Bend Cub (and June cover boy) Donnie Dewees.
Donnie Dewees was born in Florida, played high school ball in Florida and then went to the University of North Florida. So of course I asked about snow.
It showed on Opening Day in South Bend this year. Was that a first for Donnie and your family?
Deborah Dewees: Yes, we have been in the snow but never for a game. I can remember having some very cold games down here (Florida)….but never any snow.
So not much of this, I guess.
— South Bend Cubs (@SBCubs) April 9, 2016
But Donnie played well in the snow so there’s that.
— UNF Baseball (@OspreyBSB) April 8, 2016
Donnie was picked in the 2nd round of last year’s draft. What was that experience like?
DD: It was, other than giving birth and having grandchildren, one of the best days of my life. It really was what he wanted his whole life, and being his mother is all I wanted for him as well. We had quite a few people sitting around the TV in his little apartment…His coach, his teammates and the local news people were all crammed into this tiny living room, waiting for hours. When his name was announced the room erupted! Can’t explain any better! Then the phones started.
Recognize that guy?
Did Donnie buy you anything cool with his signing bonus?
DD: We made a plan for his finances. I told him he deserved to get himself one thing nice with his money; the rest we’re going to invest. While he was in Eugene, he said he was going to get a car. He bought a red Mustang, loaded. He drove it to Arizona for training then had it shipped home to me. He wanted to surprise me. He bought himself a Jeep. Those are the only things he has purchased. The balance has gone to pay taxes and has been invested for retirement.
Between Eugene last year and South Bend this year, how many games have you been able to get to? Are you able to follow the games online when you can’t make it?
DD: Since going to all of his college games, I have not been to Eugene. One of my few fears is flying. I watched all games available online and talked with Donnie after every game. This year I found that a three hour flight is manageable. I have been to seven games in South Bend and three in Cleveland. I am hoping to go to the Dayton games in August and the playoff games at the end of the season. I don’t miss an online game for any reason! I work 12 hours and spend most nights watching his games.
I remember how busy summers were with Little League games. When you were driving him to games and practices, did you have any idea he might be a professional baseball player? Did he do any other sports as a kid or was it always baseball?
DD: Donnie was very active as a youngster. He was riding dirt bikes at 3 and a TTR 125 (note: full size dirt bike) at 8. He had to put it next to the picnic table just to get on and off because he could not reach the ground. Nothing scared him. He made people cringe when he was around because he never stopped moving. He started T-ball at 4 and soccer at 6. He was fast as a hornet! He had this personality – he was a great teammate but he would not let anyone out do him! He had to be faster, stronger, better than anyone on the team…and he was. If he did not get MVP, something was wrong. Coaches fought to get him on their teams. I would get phone calls for commitment way before seasons would start. So yes, I knew he would make it in sports. He had that concentration, drive, athleticism, commitment and personality that it takes. Baseball was always number one even though he did play football, soccer, and track in high school.
What team was Donnie a fan of growing up?
DD: Living in Florida, the Rays were my favorite team but Donnie like the Red Sox. He actually got to play at Fenway (Park) when he was in the Cape (Cod baseball league). If Donnie would have (dropped) to the third round the Red Sox were going to take him. They didn’t have a second round pick.
Have you been to Wrigley since Donnie was signed by the Cubs? Have you imagined him playing there?
DD: I have not been to Wrigley yet. My sister lives in Chicago and I have hopes to go soon. And YES, absolutely have dreamed of watching him play on the major league field. At that point, I AM going to retire and WILL be at every game! I will just have to get over this flying issue!
One last note from Deborah Dewees: The Cubs organization has been amazing at tending to Donnie’s needs. I am so grateful he is where he is – I could not be happier. Just a note of how grateful I am to them for all they have done – when Donnie was first drafted his childhood best friend was killed in a motorcycle accident and they (Cubs) sent him home for a week during training; they paid his flight as well. I don’t think either of us will ever forget that.
One last note from me. Unlike some of the other parents of players I’ve talked to, Deborah Dewees was a single parent for most of the time her kids were growing up. Having done that myself for a lil bit, I’m extra hopeful that Donnie makes it to MLB so Mama Dewees can retire, enjoy his baseball games and drive her red Mustang!