In honor of Father’s Day, we take a look at a very special relationship between Cardinal outfielder Jose Martinez, and his dad, Carlos.

Jose Martinez’s father, and former Major League infielder, Carlos Martinez, passed away in 2006, when Jose was just 18 years old. Here’s how his father’s death has propelled Jose to become the player, and man, he is today.

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Father, Carlos Martinez

Carlos Martinez, father of Jose, was a born in La Guaira in 1965. In 1988, at the age of 22, Martinez broke into the Majors as a corner infielder with the White Sox. In his first full season with Chicago in ’89, the man they called “Cafe,” or Coffee, hit .300 in 350 at bats with 32 RBI and 22 doubles. Moving through Cleveland and Anaheim in a career that spanned parts of seven seasons, Carlos posted a career .258 average in 465 career games.

On January 24th, 2006, Carlos passed away of a long standing illness. His death left his wife, Evelyn de Martinez, as the single Venezuelan mother of the then 18 year old Jose Martinez.

Jose Martinez

Jose Martinez was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in 2006, just months after his father’s passing. That same year, he was dealt to the Chicago White Sox, Carlos’s old organization. However, he would never play for his father’s old club. Instead, he would spend the next eight years in the farm systems of Chicago and Atlanta, even spending some time in the Frontier League in 2014.

It had always been a dream of Jose’s to follow in his father’s footsteps to the Major Leagues, and one that took on special meaning after Carlos’s death. However, after signing with the Royals prior to the 2015 season, Martinez, then 27, made it a specific goal of his to reach the bigs for his father that year.

That season, with Triple-A Omaha, Martinez won the Pacific Coast League batting title, hitting .384. Martinez claimed that he took off just one week the entire year in pursuit of a call up. However, none came in the 2015 season, and instead Martinez was dealt to St. Louis in May of the following year.

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Martinez spent most of the 2016 season in Triple-A Memphis. He was accustomed to this, being a player on the cusp of the bigs, but not quite there. Finally, however, as the rosters expanded in September, Martinez got the call. After 887 games with 11 different minor league teams, “Cafecito,” or “Little Cup of Coffee,” had finally caught up to his father. Martinez made his debut on September 6th against Pittsburgh, and recorded his first Major League hit and Run Batted In just two days later against Milwaukee.

Jose made the Cardinals’ Opening Day roster in 2017 for the first time in his career. In 33 games this season in a backup outfielder’s role, Martinez is batting .267 with 3 home runs in 86 at bats. At the age of 28, and his Major League career just beginning, Jose Martinez may be a tad behind the eight ball in today’s game. However, for him, it’s not about the stats he may put up, or becoming a star in this league. Rather, for Martinez, it is about the journey that connected him with his father as a fellow Big Leaguer.