CLEVELAND -- Mike Aviles' baseball life had come full circle. As he settled into the batter's box at old Yankee Stadium on that summer night six years ago, looking for his first hit in the Major Leagues with Kansas City, Aviles was back where his story began.
Aviles grew up in the Bronx, neither rich nor poor, but certainly surrounded by things that could have altered his path to this moment. Looking back on everything now, the veteran Indians infielder understands and appreciates everything his parents did to give him the opportunity to live out his dreams.
With his mom and dad, along with a host of family and friends in the stands, Aviles pulled a pitch into left field for a double in the third inning against the Yankees on June 6, 2008. That the hit came where it did, and in front of that audience, was fitting.
"It was definitely special," Aviles said. "It was pretty cool that my first big league hit came in the old Stadium, where I grew up going all the time, and having my parents there."
The arrival of Mother's Day gave Aviles the chance to rave about how much his mom, Madeline Rivera, did for him and his two siblings.
Aviles' early childhood was spent in the Castle Hill area of the Bronx, where there is plenty of trouble to be found for kids looking to find some. His mom worked full-time, so it was usually an aunt, uncle or grandparent who took Aviles to his baseball games during the week. When Aviles was nearing high school age, his mom wanted to find a better situation for their family.
They moved about 60 miles north of the city to Middletown, N.Y., where Aviles could pursue both his education and love for baseball, while his mom worked as a legal secretary.
"I owe a lot to her," Aviles said. "Mom was probably one of the few people that could keep me in line. Between her and my dad, when it got tough around high school time, they got me out of the city. She wanted me to play baseball and not get in trouble. There were a lot of things. She always looked out for me and my brother and sister.
"I was a pretty good kid for the most part, I think, but my mom wanted to make sure. She always had dreams of me being a lawyer or a doctor, so she wanted to make sure she gave me every opportunity."
Aviles then cracked a smile.
"I failed," he added with a laugh. "I failed and I became a baseball player."
Aviles played baseball at Middletown High School and then at Concordia College in New York. His mom was able to see a handful of his collegiate games and later in the Minor Leagues, after Aviles was drafted by the Royals in the seventh round of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft.
More than a decade later, and now married with three daughters, Aviles appreciates the steps that were taken to put him in position to achieve all he did.
"Looking back on things now," Aviles said, "I can see how hard she worked and sacrificed so me and my brother and my sister had the things we needed, and then some. Being a parent now, you realize those things. As a kid, you don't realize it. You're kind of selfish and spoiled. You expect things.
"Then, when you become a parent, you realize, hey, you can't say yes to your kids all the time. It's not healthy for them. So I realize now why my mom was the way she was, how she was able to give us structure, but also rewarded us when we behaved and had good grades and all that stuff."
He also understands that his mom could not attend all his games due to her work schedule.
That is one reason why having his parents there at old Yankee Stadium for his first Major League hit was so special.
"My mom always supported me. My dad did, too," Aviles said. "They're my idols. Growing up, mom and dad were the two people I looked up to the most."
Aviles said it was during his college days when his mom realized her dream of having her son become a doctor or lawyer was not going to happen.
"School wasn't coming as easy as I would've liked," Aviles said with a smile. "I think she realized that I might've had a chance to play some baseball, and she knew I was attempting to put all my eggs in one basket. She's OK with it now."