The last time Raul Mondesi, Sr., was in Montana, it was 1990, when he was a base-stealing phenom for the Pioneer League’s Great Falls Dodgers.
Twenty-two years— 13 of which was spent in the major leagues — and about 40 pounds heavier, Mondesi was back in Big Sky Country on Monday, watching his son, Raul, Jr., play for the Helena Brewers.
And although the game with the Missoula Osprey at Kindrick Legion Field didn’t turn out in favor of the home team, as the hosts took a 12-2 drubbing, the elder Mondesi was still smiling afterwards.
“I’m just very happy that my son is starting out in the same place I did, Montana, although for a different team,” said the elder Mondesi, with a strong Spanish accent. “And he’s the same age I was, 19, and playing the same position I did back then, right field.”
Mondesi played in the big leagues from 1993-2005, for seven different teams, starting with the Los Angeles Dodgers and ending with the Atlanta Braves. He was the 1994 NL Rookie of the Year, garnered two Gold Gloves, and finished with a career batting average of .273.
Mondesi currently serves as the mayor of San Cristobol Province, Dominican Republican, where he flew in from on Monday.
But back to the ball game.
Helena took an early 2-0 lead after two innings, provided by doubles from Tyrone Taylor and Alfredo Rodriguez, Michael Reed reaching on an error, and an RBI single by Ruben Ozuna.
A solo home run by Missoula’s Justin Bianco in the third stanza closed the gap to one, and then a three-run bomb in the fourth by Bianco put the visitors up 4-2.
The Osprey continued to rack up the score, plating two runs in each of the fifth, sixth, seventh and ninth frames.
The Brewers, who were shut out after the second, were also outhit 15-5, and were unable to record a base hit in the final seven innings of the game.
Bianco wound up with three hits and four RBIs, while teammate Pedro Ruiz was 4 for 5, just missing the cycle with two singles, a double and a triple.
Chris Pack collected the win on the mound, and Michael Schaub was hung with the defeat. Four Brewers pitchers gave up six walks on the night.
“Once we gave up that three-run homer, it was an uphill battle after that,” said Brewers coach Jeff Isom, whose team was denied its third straight win. “You can’t expect to walk guys and put zeroes up on the board, and by not hitting after the second, we didn’t give ourselves an opportunity offensively.”
Next the Brewers will travel to Idaho Falls, to take on the Chukars, where three Mondesis will be in the park on Wednesday.
“My other son, Raul Aldaberto, is only 16, and plays for Idaho Falls,” Raul, Sr. said. “He’s the youngest player in the (Pioneer) League.”
So who will dad be rooting for?
“Both…fifty-fifty,” he said with a proud grin.
Curt Synness: 594-2878 or email@example.com