Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal
DENVER – Alex Bregman’s meteoric rise to Major League Baseball stardom has come with some unexpected price tags.
Consider his parents’ travel budget.
Sam and Jackie Bregman have been jet-setting around the country over the past two years to take in as much as possible of Alex’s climb from unproven rookie to household name.
For Jackie, that included this week’s two-game series between Bregman’s Houston Astros and the Colorado Rockies at Denver’s Coors Field. Jackie was in the stands with her sister, Janine Valdez, and several other friends and family members.
“I don’t know how many games I’ve been to now,” Jackie said, “but I try to make as many as I can. My son likes to hit home runs when my sister and I are in the stadium, so maybe it’s time to quit working and become professional fans.”
Alex Bregman, 24, kept some impressive streaks intact in the Astros’ 8-2 win over the Rockies in Tuesday’s series opener. With mom looking on, he launched his 21st home run of the season and extended a major league-leading 26-game on-base streak. Bregman also doubled and walked in the contest, drawing cheers from a remarkably large contingent of Astros fans.
“We thought all that orange was just Broncos fans,” Bregman said. “Then they started cheering for us. That was awesome.”
Tuesday was Bregman’s first game at Coors Field, one of MLB’s closest to his hometown of Albuquerque. Friends and family didn’t miss the chance to cheer him on.
“I’ve heard from a lot of Albuquerque people this week, telling me they were coming,” Bregman said. “I’m definitely feeling the love and support and I love this park. It’s an unbelievable place to hit.”
The visit to Denver was just the latest stop in a wild month for Bregman, who was named MVP of last week’s Major League All-Star Game. He competed in the event’s Home Run Derby and spent a night with his teammates at the ESPY Awards in Los Angeles. The Astros, 2017 World Series Champions, were honored as Professional Team of the Year.
“It’s all been a great experience,” Bregman said. “I think just being at the All-Star Game, talking baseball with so many great players, was the best part.”
Jackie Bregman might beg to differ.
After all, her son’s go-ahead home run in the All-Star Game propelled the American League to an extra-inning win and earned Bregman MVP honors. That brought about a tough decision – whether to accept a new Chevrolet truck or a new Camaro as his MVP award.
“We’d actually joked about it,” Jackie said, “even though we never expected him to win. Alex said, ‘Mom, I struggled with this but if I somehow win I’m giving the truck to Dad.’
“I said, ‘Alex, you know how much I love sports cars. You’re dead to me.’ ”
Alex didn’t stay deceased for long.
On national TV he opted for the sports car and Jackie, who currently drives an “Astros orange” Ford Mustang, is now awaiting delivery of a custom Camaro.
“I had fun messing with my mom,” Bregman said, “but when I actually had to make the call I had to be the good son.”
Sam and Jackie joined Alex on the field at Washington’s Nationals Park for the MVP presentation, allowing Sam to play the wounded father.
“I thought I was getting a truck,” he said. “Alex hung me out to dry.”
Vehicle envy aside, Sam says the past two years of literally following Alex’s career have been surreal.
“I never dreamed he would accomplish so much so soon,” Sam said.
Bregman is making $599,000 this season. He signed a $5.9 million signing bonus in 2015, when he was the No. 2 overall pick in the draft.
In addition to his All-Star heroics, Bregman leads the Major Leagues in walk-off hits this season with five. He also delivered a walk-off hit against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 5 of the World Series last season.
Bregman’s teammates have come to expect the most of their young third baseman in pivotal moments.
“Watching him this season has been amazing,” said Jose Altuve, last season’s American League Most Valuable Player. “He brings a little of everything to the game. He’s an MVP-type of player. But the thing I like most about Alex is he comes in every day with the same attitude and works hard. We don’t have to keep him humble.”
Despite having such overwhelming success so early in his career, Bregman is determined not to become complacent.
“I can get better,” he said, “a lot better. The biggest goal for me is to win the World Series again – and again and again and again. Winning the World Series is what we all play for. I need to keep getting better to help my team accomplish that again.”
If Bregman and the Astros do return to the World Series, Sam and Jackie Bregman don’t plan to miss it. They attended last season’s seven-game classic and haven’t slowed down since.
Sam, however, was forced to miss this week’s series in Denver.
“I went to the All-Star Game,” he said, “and the ESPYs and (the Astros’ recent) series in Anaheim. At some point I had to come back to Albuquerque while I still had a job.”