Cubs catcher Willson Contreras wiped away tears after hugging his younger brother William at home plate before first pitch Thursday. And his eyes filled with tears again after the game when he recounted that moment.
“It was the moment of my life, believe me,” Willson said. “… I always recall those moments when we were growing up together back home, just dreaming to get signed by somebody. And I’m crying because of the job that we put together to get to where we are.”
The Contreras brothers shared a special moment Thursday as they exchanged their respective teams’ lineup cards before the Cubs’ 5-1 loss to the Braves. It was the brothers’ first time in opposing dugouts in their professional careers.
“I remember watching him play Little league,” Willson said. “And we were always close. We were always good brothers. We never fought, and we support each other. And those are memories that I will never forget.”
For Willson, the emotions started flowing hours before the game, when William called him Thursday afternoon.
“I thought he was bothering me a little bit, he was bored,” Willson joked.
Instead, William was calling to break the news that the Braves were recalling him from Triple-A before the series finale with the Cubs. William, who at 24 is five years younger than Willson, made his major-league debut in 2020.
“I thought that the best way to make my parents proud was taking the [lineup] cards out together,” Willson said.
So, he broached the subject with Cubs senior media relations specialist and interpreter Will Nadal, who passed on the message to Cubs manager David Ross.
Said Ross, when asked about curating special moments for his players: “It’s nice calling the other managers as well and putting it on their radar and saying, ‘Hey, this is something that I’d like to do for this guy or that guy, are you on board?’ And they’re all for it.
“As much as we compete against each other and want to win every second, the moments that you get to enjoy family dynamics and appreciate what a special place it is to be in the major leagues, I think that’s awesome.”
So, with Ross and Braves manager Brian Snitker on board, the Contreras brothers carried the lineup cards out to home plate Thursday evening, their last name stretching across the backs of their opposite-colored jerseys as they held their embrace.
“It is really special for me because of everything we went through to get to where we are right now as a family,” Willson said. “No one knows how hard the road is to get to the big leagues. And having my brother play against me, it’s just special. I’m trying to set an example for him to follow. And that’s what made me proud the most.”