Humble Sabathia has mother to thank
Lefty learned at young age to keep accolades in perspective
BOSTON -- CC Sabathia knows how fortunate he has been in life, and it has nothing to do with the facts that he fulfilled his dreams to become an ace pitcher and a World Series winner at the game's highest level.
For the Yankees left-hander, it all started back in the Bay Area and within the city limits of Vallejo, Calif. And on this Mother's Day, Sabathia would readily acknowledge that none of it could have been possible if not for Margie Sabathia.
"My mom meant everything, being there every day and explaining to me about staying humble and working hard, and doing the right thing," Sabathia said. "She was always there and would always do whatever she could to make sure I had a great childhood."
Sometimes, as Sabathia recalled with a grin, that meant that Margie had to deliver some tough love. Sabathia might not have appreciated it at the time, but he sure does now, recognizing that Margie was trying to challenge him to be his best.
"She always made sure that I didn't get a big head," Sabathia said. "If I hit a home run, she wouldn't let me brag too much. She'd say, 'That ain't nothing!'
"She did a good job keeping me humble -- even telling me that I wasn't that good sometimes. I hated to lose; I was very competitive and always thought I was doing it right. That was something she had to work out of me."
Sabathia had no doubt who was the president of his fan club. His mother was there for baseball, football, basketball -- no matter the sport, when play started, Margie would be there, having permitted her son to play those sports with the understanding he kept his grades to A's and B's.
"I think my Dad [Corky] convinced her that I was going to be an athlete, a baseball player or a football player, and she just ran with it," Sabathia said. "She never missed a game. I knew she was going to be there and be supportive."
Sabathia's parents split when he was 13, and his father passed away after seeing his son get his first chances in the big leagues. Sabathia married his high school sweetheart, Amber, who is now preparing to make Margie a grandmother for the fourth time.
Today, Margie Sabathia remains active with her son's "PitCCh In" foundation. On Jan. 30, Margie helped Sabathia and Amber perform the formal ribbon-cutting ceremony at the refurbished Thurmon Field -- the same diamond where Margie dropped young CC off for his games in the North Vallejo Little League so many years ago.
"It's huge -- we have a real close relationship, and my wife is close with her, too," Sabathia said. "We're a pretty close family. It's just good to be able to see her enjoy what's going on. I think it's a lot of fun for her to be at the foundation and the Little League and get to do what she wants, because she did so much for me."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.