Shortly before Sunday’s game in Los Angeles, a text message appeared on the phone of Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras.
His younger brother, William, sent him a photo of an envelope, the one players receive when they are invited to the All-Star Game.
William, who won a World Series ring last year with the Atlanta Braves, will not only join Willson on the National League squad for next week’s game at Dodger Stadium, but for the first time since 1992, a pair of brothers will start an All-Star Game together. Willson was chosen by the fans as the starting catcher, while William will replace the injured Bryce Harper as the National League designated hitter.
Knowing what awaits them next week, Willson recalled playing baseball in the yard with William at their home in Venezuela as a child using a stick and a plastic ball.
“It’s going to be amazing hanging out with my brother on the same field,” Willson said before Tuesday’s game against the Baltimore Orioles at Wrigley Field. “That’s something we haven’t done since we were kids.”
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William, 24, is a first-time All-Star, but Willson, 30… who earned his third All-Star start — does not plan to advise you on what to expect. She prefers to let her brother soak up the atmosphere.
“I want him to figure it out for himself,” Willson said. “I know how I felt the first time I went to the All-Star Game, and it was a great experience. I know he’ll ask me whatever questions he needs to ask there, but I want him to find out for himself.”
The All-Star Game adds another chapter to a memorable season for the brothers. In late April, they shared a major league field together for the first time during the Cubs’ three-game series in Atlanta. Before a game, Willson and William memorably swapped lineup cardscausing Willson to get emotional talking about the post-game moment.
Then on June 18, the Contreras played against each other at Wrigley Field, with both starting behind home plate.
“We are blessed,” Willson said. “These are blessed moments. … There is no specific word to describe how I feel and how my family feels. This is the first time I’ve had my whole family in the US and it all happened, like, back to back. I hope it keeps coming.”
His parents, Wuiliam and Olga, and another brother, Willmer, are expected to join them in Los Angeles for the All-Star festivities.
“They deserve it more than I do, especially my mom and dad,” Willson said. “They did everything they could to raise three children in a poor neighborhood, and that is not an easy job. They deserve it more than me to go there.”