By Tommy Birch
July 7, 2014
(Photo: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport)
Wherever Tony Watson goes, the left-handed pitcher carries with him the advice of his mother and a piece of her legacy.
The former Dallas Center-Grimes star will travel to Minneapolis next week as a National League All-Star. He'll be representing the Pittsburgh Pirates and honoring his late mother, Angie.
"She'd just be ecstatic right now and on cloud nine and be so excited to be going up to Minneapolis to see it," Watson said Monday.
Watson, a reliever, was born in Sioux City and lived in Dallas Center and Grimes.
Watson was close to his mom, before and after his parents separated. She lugged him around for tournaments, packed lunches for games and cleaned his uniform after the event.
Tragedy struck the family when Angie was diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer. Despite her sickness, Angie was still a fixture at Tony's different sporting events in high school.
Watson, who went on to play at Nebraska, would venture back to visit his mom while she was ill. He was with her when she passed away in 2005.
"It's been a few years but (she's) still near and dear to my heart," Watson said.
She's gone but certainly not forgotten for Watson, who has enjoyed a fantastic season with the Pirates, compiling a 5-0 record with a 0.86 ERA in 42 appearances.
Watson and his sister, Ashley Nelson, wear necklaces with a thumbprint of their mother. He wears it constantly, even when he's pitching.
"It is pretty special to me," Watson said.
Watson learned Sunday that he was named to the NL All-Star team. Shortly after, he contacted some family members to break the news. Watson wishes he could have called his mom.
"It would have been pretty awesome to see how she reacted," Watson said.
When Watson arrives at Target Field for perhaps the biggest moment of his career, his mom won't be far from his mind.
"I think she's the best mom you could ask for," he said.