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FREEWAY SERIES / DODGERS 2, ANGELS 1 | Bill Dwyre

Feels like October

This dad has three times the insight

June 16, 2007|Bill Dwyre

Since June 26, 1998, Luis Gonzalez of the Dodgers has lived life in triplicate.

From bassinets to bikes, his joys and responsibilities have been multiplied by three. When wife Christine delivered the Gonzalez triplets, in reverse alphabetical order, Megan, Jacob and Alyssa became the kind of three-base hit that only a handful of major leaguers achieve.

Sunday is Father's Day, and Gonzalez will have to go to work. There are Angels to conquer and his own little angels to feed. Jacob will be there at Dodger Stadium, adoring Dad as a big league player. Megan and Alyssa will be there too, adoring Dad as Dad.

The Gonzalez triplets will be 9 in 10 days.

"I have no idea where the time went," Dad says.

He remembers when it all started, when he and Christine, three years into their marriage, went to the doctor to find out about her pregnancy.

"We knew there was more than one," Gonzalez says, "and when they took a look, they said it was twins. Then, we went back for another test, and they said it was triplets. I told my wife that if she went back again, she'd have to go by herself. I had just gone from zero to three in a couple of months."

Gonzalez is an accomplished veteran, about to turn 40 on Sept. 3, with a major league resume that has earned him a $7-million salary, after signing as a free agent for this Dodgers season, and has plenty of highlights. Those include his 57 homers for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001, and his World-Series-winning single with the bases loaded that same year in Game 7 against the Yankees and Mariano Rivera.

But he has a good sense of priorities, of what ranks where in life.

He says the World Series clincher is "something you dream about as a kid." He says having triplets is "something that makes you know how blessed you are."

The births weren't easy. Oh, it was fine for Christine. It was Dad who was a mess.

"I was playing for Detroit and we were at home against the Cubs," Gonzalez says. "It was in the middle of Sammy Sosa's home run binge and the place was packed. I had given my phone to one of the locker room attendants, a good friend. I told him that, when that phone rang and it was my wife, I didn't care if I was in the middle of running out a double, that he was to come and get me.

"So, the game ends and he walks up to me and tells me my wife had called and to not bother me until after the game, but when I got done, make sure I call her. I went nuts. I called and she said she thought it was time.

"I didn't even take a shower. I was hot and sweaty and I just took off, with my friend running interference. In old Tiger Stadium, the only way you could get out is back through the stands, and the place was still packed. Fans were grabbing at me and yelling stuff and a lot of them were overloaded with alcohol."

Gonzalez says he finally got to his car and the parking lot was jammed, so his friend found a state trooper and he took over.

"Before I knew it, we are on the interstate, going the wrong way," he says.

Christine made it to the hospital on time and Dad got to sit in on the proceedings, much to his discomfort.

"I remember lots of people in the room, because it was a multiple birth," Gonzalez says, "and I think I remember them kind of announcing it as they came out. You know, girl ... boy ... girl.

"I would just kind of peek over there and then turn away. I was trying not to pass out. Can you imagine that getting back to the clubhouse if I passed out?"

They were all tiny, about three pounds, and were delivered at 32 weeks, about a month early. Now they are all normal sized.

"Bigger than normal," Dad says.

He calls Megan the mini-mom. "She keeps a close watch over all of us, Mom and Dad, brother and sister. She keeps track."

He calls Jacob the sports fanatic. "He wasn't pushed by his dad, but he just loves sports. And he's the man of the house when I am gone. He takes that responsibility seriously."

He calls Alyssa the child with a mind of her own. "She's the creative one, strong-willed and independent."

Mom and the triplets arrived in Southern California last week. Home and school is in Scottsdale, Ariz., where Gonzalez spent eight seasons being beloved by Diamondbacks fans and establishing himself as one of the better players in the game. But this summer, home is at a leased house in Manhattan Beach, where surf and sand may make it hard to leave.

And if Dad has his way, that house may be home again next summer, and maybe a few years after that.

"I love what I do, and I love it here," he says. "I don't know about retirement. One thing I keep looking at is 3,000 hits. I'd like to get that."

After Friday night's game, Gonzalez has 2,436, which means there is work left.

How about a flurry on Father's Day?

How about a game-winning hit?

How about making it a triple?

--

Bill Dwyre can be reached at bill.dwyre@latimes.com. To read previous columns by Dwyre, go to latimes.com/dwyre.

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