My Jorge Lopez story
I've mentioned my Jorge Lopez connection in several threads on this website and figured I would write it out if anyone is interested in reading it. I met the girl who became my wife in 2015, she is from Puerto Rico, lived in Chicago as a young adult and was a White Sox fan. She moved to the lovely state of Kansas in the summer of 2016 and one of our mutual interests was watching baseball. I spent a few months learning as much as I could about the history of Puerto Rican baseball and I gradually converted her to being a Twins fan, we both really liked Jose Berríos and started following his career during the summer of 2016 and started collecting his baseball cards. We were both excited to see the Cubs end their run of futility that season and as a former resident of Chicago she was able to see both of the Chicago teams win a World Series in her lifetime.
The following spring we were watching the World Baseball Classic, Puerto Rico was playing Mexico, I remember turning the game on and not really paying attention and she says to me, "The pitcher is Jorge Lopez, I went to school with him." My response was confusion, how did I not know about him before? She told me that they were childhood classmates in their hometown of Cayey, PR and he always liked playing baseball and volleyball and handball and ended up going to the military academy in Caguas and she lost touch with him after high school. We started following his career after that where he toiled in the Brewers organization through the summer of 2018 when he was traded to the Royals in the Mike Moustakas trade but quickly gained attention from baseball fans when he carried a perfect game into the 9th inning against our beloved Twins.
A couple months after that we were sitting in church when she gets a notification on her phone, Jorge had sent her a friend request on Facebook. That was when we found out more about him after they had lost touch and the challenges that his son had been experiencing. His son Mikael was born with a condition called "Familial Mediterranean Fever" which affects his digestive system; because of this Mikael wears a backpack that supplies nutrients to his body (eventually he will need an intestinal transplant). He quickly became one of our favorite players to cheer for, we were looking forward to getting to see him pitch for the Royals but in September of 2020 due to his ineffectiveness as a starter the Royals DFA's him and we were sad. Baltimore quickly picked him up and he struggled during the 2020 and 2021 seasons where they eventually moved him to the bullpen. Before the 2022 season we connected with him again on Instagram and we started keeping in touch with him there, we learned his son was doing better and hoped that with his bullpen role being more defined he would finally put it together. And he did! He made his first All Star game appearance and I remember staying up way past my bedtime to watch him come into the game to face one batter, Jake Cronenworth, and got him to ground out on 3 pitches. It was such a grand moment. His name came up in trade talks, a number of teams seemed to be interested, I hoped the Twins would make a move but I wasn't hopeful. I had just finished voting in a local election on August 2nd, and came home and turned the TV on when I saw the Twins had traded for Jorge Lopez! We were so excited that he was gonna be on our favorite team! He wasn't as sharp after the trade but we hoped after a full offseason with the team and the chemistry with the other Puerto Rican players and the stability of his sons situation he would be the Jorge Lopez he was before the trade and so far this season he has been much better, currently with a 1.71 ERA in 22 games. We still interact with him on Instagram and keep in touch as often as we can.
I think the biggest thing I've learned from Jorge Lopez is that we all are fighting battles the world may never know about. When he comes into pitch, you will always see that huge smile on his face, deep down he is just a Puerto Rican kid who loves playing baseball. Whether he continues to do well or struggles, he is a man who is easy to cheer for and I hope more Twins fans will show him some love and compassion 😊
Thanks for reading!