Jorge Cantu's life literally is a tale of two cities, Reynosa in Mexico and McAllen in Texas, five miles apart on either side of the Rio Grande. The Rangers infielder belongs to both.
09/24/2010 4:01 PM ET
Jorge Cantu closer to home, title
Infielder back in Texas with AL West-leading Rangers
His parents, Jorge Sr. and Adriana, own an 8,600-acre ranch just outside Reynoso; their importing and exporting cattle business often takes them across the border.
They were staying in McAllen in January 1982 when Adriana suddenly went into labor. Their son was born there, making him a U.S. citizen, but he was raised in Reynosa and has dual citizenship.
Cantu, acquired by the Rangers in a June 29 trade that sent two Triple-A players to the Florida Marlins, has a home
in McAllen, 450 miles south of Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas. He'll occasionally take the one-hour flight from Dallas to McAllen and the short drive to visit his parents during and after the season.
Actually, Cantu's story also is a tale of two families.
Robert and Ellen Delson have been following his professional career since Day One as though he was their own son. They have no children of their own.
Cantu adopted them in 1999 shortly after reporting to the Hudson Valley Renegades, the short-season New York-Penn League team in the then-expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays' Minor League system.
When the former Erie (Pa.) Sailors club moved in 1994 to Wappingers Falls, N.Y., where the Delsons lived then, they immediately bought season tickets and became among the newly-named Renegades' biggest boosters.
They were instrumental in setting up a host-family program for members of the team. One family felt it was too difficult caring for Cantu, then 17, and shuttling him to and from games.
The Delsons took him in. "When we met him he was a little scrawny kid," Ellen Delson recalled. "He just smiled because we had a language problem. He spoke Spanish; I did not. The thing I really remember when he first came to us was he always called me Moma Love in his broken English."
"I call them my godparents," Cantu said. "I don't know what my first year would've been like if it hadn't been for them." He and the Delsons quickly formed a close relationship. They followed his progress throughout the Minors.
The Delsons have retired to West Palm Beach, Fla., and were thrilled when Cantu signed a free-agent contract with the Marlins in December 2007. They were at every home game and were dismayed when the Marlins traded him to Texas. "That was a trauma," Ellen Delson said.
Cantu is living in Dallas for the rest of the season, his seventh in the big leagues and first with a serious shot at postseason play after 3 1/2 with the Rays, a cup of coffee in Cincinnati and 2 1/2 with the Marlins.
The Delsons' life still revolves around him. "100 percent," she said. "Our whole schedule, our whole life these past three years has been around the baseball schedule." They watch all the Rangers' games on television.
"We have become closer to him in some respects than his biological mother and father," Ellen said.
"We talk every day," Cantu said, " and she's into texting now. I taught her how, and now it's nonstop."
Ellen recalled that Cantu would tell them in his first pro season, "I will hit a home run at Yankee Stadium. You'll see." And Ellen said she'd tell him, sarcastically "Oh yeah, right. Wonderful." And he'd say, "And over the Green Monster" in Boston.
And, of course, he did both of them. "We were there," she said. "I just cried."
Bruce Lowitt is a freelance writer based in Tampa, Fla.