Shortly before Sunday’s game in Los Angeles, a text message popped up on Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras’ phone.
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, not only will join Willson on the National League team 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 voted in by fans as the starting catcher, while William is replacing the injured Bryce Harper as the NL designated hitter.
Knowing what awaits them next week, Willson thought back to when he was a kid playing baseball on the patio with William at their home in Venezuela using a stick and plastic ball.
“It will be amazing to spend the time 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.”
William, 24, is a first-time All-Star, but Willson, 30 — who earned his third All-Star start — doesn’t plan to advise him on what to expect. He prefers to let his brother soak in the environment.
“I want him to get that figured out all by himself,” Willson said. “I know how I felt the first time that I went to the All-Star Game, and it was a great experience. I know that he will me ask whatever questions he needs to ask over there, but I want him to find out himself.”
The All-Star Game adds another chapter to a memorable season for the brothers. In late April, they shared a big-league field together for the first time during the Cubs’ three-game series in Atlanta. Before one game, Willson and William memorably exchanged lineup cards, prompting Willson to become emotional talking about the moment after the game.
Then on June 18, the Contrerases played against each other at Wrigley Field, both getting the start behind the plate.
“We’re blessed,” Willson said. “Those are blessed moments. … There’s no specific word to describe how I feel and how my family feels. This is the first time that I’ve got my whole family in the USA and everything happened, like, back-to-back. Hopefully it keeps coming.”
Their parents, Wuiliam and Olga, and other 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 that they could do to raise three kids in a poor neighborhood, and that’s not an easy job. They deserve it more than I do to go there.”