When Rodie and Page Thompson got tickets to a playoff game between the Cleveland Indians and the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium last year, they were beyond excited. Not because they’re Yankees fans, but because it was a chance to see Indians’ outfielder and former Cape League player Greg Allen, who they hosted in 2015, play in the Major League.
“It’s like having your own son play in the majors,” says Page. “We were the only Yankee fans cheering when they announced him,” he recalls, laughing. “G! Go G!” Rodie reenacts.
In talking to Rodie and Page—or, as their Orleans Firebirds players call them, “Mama T” and “Pager”—about their experience as a Cape League host family over the last seven years, their joy is palpable. There’s a twinkle, sometimes tears, in their eyes as they recall some of the memories: When Cesar Salazar brought a date over to the house; when they set the record for the most onion rings ever purchased (nine jumbo packs) from Liam’s Clam Shack; when Page and Chandler Day—who was grieving the death of his close friend and Vanderbilt teammate Donny Everett—went out fishing; when Ethan Paul said goodbye to the Thompsons’ dog Mickey, who had to be put down; when Riley Adams hit a foul ball that just so happened to break through the windshield of Rodie’s car.
“Everything is about a memory,” Page says. One of their favorite memories is from last summer—and it revolves around an epic game of Uno. “We had one game that was a marathon game,” Page says. “Oh, it was crazy,” adds Rodie. “Three and a half hours—until two in the morning,” Page explains, “and we kept saying, ‘We’re going to set the record—the Guinness Book of Records.’” They laugh as they remember how their daughter ultimately ended the game, letting Ethan Paul win. “Ethan goes up to his room,” Page recalls, “and he comes down and brings a boom box playing Queen’s ‘We Are the Champions.’”
Speaking of “Ethan’s room,” it’s the upstairs loft Rodie has dubbed “boyland,” and it’s where she keeps one of her most prized possessions: Bobby Dalbec’s 2015 MVP Award. Dalbec, who currently plays third base for the Red Sox’s farm team, also played for the Cape League in 2014, and he says that first year he struggled on the field. “They were always positive, and they were there for every game,” he says of the Thompsons. “Every player leaves something back at that house, and I wanted to leave that.”
The Thompsons, Dalbec says, became like parents to him, and he treasures the time they spent together. “It’s a relationship that will never be lost.”
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