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  • Moms of Minor Leaguers: Allison Mason


    David Youngs

    There are few that know the baseball lifestyle better than moms. Get to know some of the wonderful mothers in the Twins' organization and how they've lived and led their sons' journey. 

    Image courtesy of Allison Mason, Graphic by David Youngs

    Twins Video

    Allison Mason sat alongside her five-year-old young son Ryan outside of the t-ball fields in Auburn, California in her car. As the first day of T-ball practice awaited, a situation arose. What should have been a moment of excitement was one of confusion and concern. 

    Ryan refused to get out of the car. 

    No pitching involved? Nope, not for me.

    "He wouldn't play T-ball when he was five and he wouldn't play baseball when he was six because the coaches pitched," Allison recalled. "By the time he was seven and was finally allowed to pitch he was chomping at the bit to be in the full windup."

     

    Most kids need the grassroots staple of baseball to develop basic skills. Not Ryan. In a world of kids on first, Ryan was well on his way to third base and headed home. 

    That full trip around the bases is now inches from touching home plate.

    Coming off a strong 2021 season Ryan Mason has established himself as one of the strongest pitchers in the Twins Minor League Organization. After dabbling with excellence upon belong selected by the Twins in the 2016 draft, Ryan dominated in 2021, posting a 4-2 record and 2.67 ERA out of the bullpen. On July 31 his success earned him a promotion from AA Wichita to AAA St. Paul, his highest ascension on the ladder to Major League Baseball.

    Mason is on the cusp of achieving the dream that every boy fantasizes about in his backyard from a young age. 

    Yet from the days of watching Ryan refuse Tee-ball, to pitching at his home-state university, to sitting on the fringe of the highest level of baseball, Allison's experience has remained constant. 

    Proud and grateful. 

    Young Talent

    Allison reflects on her son's journey through baseball; a mother of two, Ryan fell in love with the game at an early age thanks to his older brother Jeff. 

    "His older brother was doing all the sports. baseball, soccer, basketball, all of it," Allison recalls. "As a younger brother, Ryan wanted to be out there and he wanted to be the same age as his brother so he could do all of it."

    Like many younger brothers, Jeff's baseball equipment would become Ryan's once he was big and old enough to fill it. The only exception was gloves, as Jeff was a lefty pitcher and Ryan throws with his right arm. 

    And while many hours were spent with Jeff in the backyard, Ryan had a knack for tuning up his fastball in the living room... at inconvenient times. 

    "We were in the living room and he was two and half years old; I can remember him setting up four couch cushions and he would pitch from the windup into the cushions," Allison said. "He would hit his spot 99% of the time. At the time it was annoying because we were trying to watch TV and I can remember saying 'Ryan can we give it a rest, can we please just sit down for a while,' and he would just keep doing it."

    It became apparent that Allison and Bob's son had a special gift from a young age. When Ryan was seven and finally able to pitch, he would scare the opposition out of the batter's box because he threw so hard for his age. 

    "I can remember other parents commenting 'What is he doing? Why is he doing this?' and I just responded with 'he lives for this," Allison said. "He couldn't wait for that moment to be on the mound."

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    From Auburn's 'Nugget League' through the local Little League, Ryan established himself as one of the premier baseball players in the state by the time he was a high schooler. And while Allison was just happy to see her son succeed, an offer to play for the University of California Golden Bears was a dream come true. 

    "We never dreamt that big for him, we were just really, really glad that there were options," Allison said. "When Cal called, we were just like 'wow this is a DI, Pac-12 opportunity."

    Ryan was a stalwart for the Golden Bears, compiling a 26-11 record and 3.25 ERA over four years. He even went viral thanks to a pretty impressive pregame feat that landed him some airtime on ESPN and four million views over social media

    Ryan's success for the Golden Bears streamlined him to professional baseball. For Allison, the relationships that he built in Berkeley were equally as impactful as the success on the field. 

    "Some of his best friends to this day are from that program," including his coach," she said. 

    Bound in Auburn
    Auburn, California sits just northwest of the state capital of Sacramento. Far from the hustle and bustle of LA and San Diego, its population of just over 13,000 is a tight-knit community. Nestled in the town is the Mason's lumber store, where locals will come to check in on the progress of the finest athletes the community has ever seen. 

    Yet Ryan's legacy expands beyond the walls of Auburn Hardwoods; Ryan's story is a staple in the NorCal town. 

    "The high school keeps tabs on him, little league coaches, there's a whole community here that has his back and are watching him every step of the way," Allison said. 

    Tears of Joy

    Each time Ryan gets the news that he has been promoted to a higher level of play, his mother is one of the first to know. 

    "It's just tears, every single time. I'm the first one that he calls. It's fantastic, I'm proud every single time," she said. 

    By now, the national pastime is second nature to Allison and the Mason family. Yet with time comes change and growth, including Allison's perspective when her son takes the mound. 

    "When I was watching him pitch at Cal I was living and dying by the outings that he had," Allison said. "If he had a bad outing my heart would hurt for him."

    After a few years of watching Ryan pitch at the professional level, her mindset shifted from a roller coaster to one word. 

    Grateful. 

    "Being able to watch every game on MiLB.TV of Ryan and his teammates, I wasn't living and dying by every game anymore. I was just grateful for every single opportunity. My husband and I learned to step back and not ride the roller coaster, we're just grateful."

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    Ryan has played 132 games for the Twins organization. And while the number is certain to grow, Allison is just proud of her son and his journey from tee-ball dropout to a world-class pitcher. 

    "Ryan is someone who is able to rise to the occasion, you don't know how long this is going to last and we're just grateful to watch it. Ryan has traveled all over the place and met so many people and lifelong friends and it's all through this connection of baseball."

     

    Are YOU a mother of a player in the Twins organization? We'd love to hear you and your son's story. Email David Youngs (dyyoungs15@gmail.com, @CYoungsAward on Twitter) for more information!

    Check out Seth's Episode of Twins Live with Ryan Mason!

     

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    1 hour ago, terrydactyls said:

    We certainly are getting desperate for stories this offseason.

    How is this "desperate"?

    I 100% relate to this.  My son is a Senior in HS (pitcher) and just recently committed to a college to play ball.  We've been on this journey as a baseball family (albeit a much shorter version of that story to be sure) and I know how his mother feels.

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    3 hours ago, MN_ExPat said:

    How is this "desperate"?

    I 100% relate to this.  My son is a Senior in HS (pitcher) and just recently committed to a college to play ball.  We've been on this journey as a baseball family (albeit a much shorter version of that story to be sure) and I know how his mother feels.

    My mother travelled all over Minnesota watching my older brother and I play high school and college hockey.  And I'm talking outdoor games in the 50's and 60's.  But so did thousands of other parents.  To me, that makes this article a just one of many such stories and a good indication that there ain't no good things to discuss.

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    23 minutes ago, terrydactyls said:

    My mother travelled all over Minnesota watching my older brother and I play high school and college hockey.  And I'm talking outdoor games in the 50's and 60's.  But so did thousands of other parents.  To me, that makes this article a just one of many such stories and a good indication that there ain't no good things to discuss.

    Fair enough (and kudos to you mother, I understand the sacrifice involved).

    Although I would disagree and say this is just fine to discuss 😉.

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    1 hour ago, terrydactyls said:

    My mother travelled all over Minnesota watching my older brother and I play high school and college hockey.  And I'm talking outdoor games in the 50's and 60's.  But so did thousands of other parents.  To me, that makes this article a just one of many such stories and a good indication that there ain't no good things to discuss.

    It's called a feature story. Not every article out there has to be one that involves debate. Features are intended to share unique perspectives...it's okay to finish reading an article and not have anything to argue/debate/discuss. Twins Daily is all about providing different perspectives- some articles/opinion pieces that spark debate (which there are plenty of), features, analyses, etc. I didn't write this story because the Twins are having a crummy offseason, I wrote it because it's important to share stories from a variety of lenses and while other writers may be more intrigued to write about stats and roster moves, I enjoy writing off-the-field stories that capture the game from a different viewpoint.

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    I don’t have a first-hand story of a mother of a minor leaguer, but I do have a second-hand story. 
     

    Several years ago, at the Macy’s parade on Thanksgiving, the woman next to asked about my Twins gear. She told me her son, Aaron Slegers was a minor league pitcher in the Twins system. 
     

    She told me about his high school and college career and how Aaron had moved up the Twins minor league chain. Also she talked about his off season workouts. 
     

    Slegers made the majors with the Twins and has since pitched with the Rays and Angels. 

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    6 hours ago, terrydactyls said:

    My mother travelled all over Minnesota watching my older brother and I play high school and college hockey.  And I'm talking outdoor games in the 50's and 60's.  But so did thousands of other parents.  To me, that makes this article a just one of many such stories and a good indication that there ain't no good things to discuss.

    Human interest stories are always a good thing to put in the mix. As we tell many on TD ... if you don't like it, don't read it or go to the next article. 

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    I love Allison! When Ryan played in Pensacola, Allison called me to ask questions about housing very early—like in January—as she anticipated that Ryan would land on the AA Roster.

    Lord knows that navigating LIFE off the field can be hard for players. If a player is lucky enough to have a parent who is as much of an advocate for them as Allison is for Ryan, they are truly blessed.

    FYI, Ryan doesn't do social media, so Allison keeps us up to date on him.

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