Royals

Childhood best friends Eric Hosmer, Deven Marrero finally share a major-league field

Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer (left) and Boston Red Sox infielder Deven Marrero grew up together in South Florida.
Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer (left) and Boston Red Sox infielder Deven Marrero grew up together in South Florida. jsleezer@kcstar.com

They grew up together, best friends, inseparable. That kind of friendship, Eric Hosmer says.

They played baseball games together. They rode to school together. They hung out on quiet afternoons and talked about nights like Tuesday at Kauffman Stadium. Some day, they would play on a major-league field together, Hosmer and Deven Marrero, two kids from South Florida.

“We dreamed about this,” Hosmer said.

“That’s family and that’s blood right there,” Marrero said.

The Royals lost to the Red Sox 8-3 on Tuesday. Boston starter Chris Sale struck out 10 batters. Matt Strahm allowed five runs as the Royals fell to 34-36 this season.

Yet on one side of the Red Sox clubhouse, the final result was only part of the story. Marrero, a 26-year-old infielder, had just returned to the major leagues that afternoon and spent his first night on a big-league field with Hosmer, the Royals first baseman and a childhood best friend.

“It’s just crazy, man,” Marrero said. “Growing up together since we were 9 years old, and we’re out here living the dream that we worked so hard for our whole lives.”

Hosmer and Marrero grew up in South Florida. They played high school baseball together at the American Heritage School, where both players were standouts. They led the school to a state championship in 2008. They played summer ball together for the Midland organization in Cincinnati, one of the top baseball programs in the country.

They could have played college baseball together at Arizona State, too, but then Hosmer got drafted with the No. 3 overall pick in 2008, and the plans changed. Hosmer began his professional career in the minor leagues. Marrero signed with Arizona State a year later, starring for the Sun Devils, eventually getting drafted by the Boston Red Sox with the 24th overall pick in 2012.

Marrero debuted with the Red Sox in 2015, but for three years, their paths never crossed in the major leagues. The schedule never aligned. Marrero was up and down, spending time in the minor leagues.

But on Tuesday, close to 17 years after their first game together, Marrero and Hosmer shared a field in an official baseball game for the first time since high school.

“A lot of days going to school or going to baseball practice,” Hosmer said, “talking about being on a big-league field at the same time. That day has finally come. It’s obviously took a lot longer than expected.”

These days, Hosmer is an All-Star first baseman with a World Series ring and three Gold Gloves. Marrero is an infielder with close to 150 at-bats. But the relationship has remained close. The baseball part, Hosmer says, is only part of the story.

“He has taught me pretty much everything I know,” Marrero said.

In recent years, Hosmer and Marrero have lived together in the offseason, working out, preparing for more baseball seasons. As the years passed, the relationship grew closer, even through turbulent times.

In 2009, Marrero’s father, Luis, was sentenced to more than 15 years in prison after being convicted of five counts of sexual battery, molestation and other charges against two teenage girls, according to the Boston Globe. He is expected to be released in 2025.

In the years that followed, Marrero leaned on the Hosmer family. Hosmer’s father, Mike, became like a second dad, he says. Hosmer’s mother, Ileana, was another support system. Mike Hosmer has two sons, Eric and Mikey. In Marrero, he has a third.

“They are like my parents,” Marrero said. “They took me in and I have been through some rough times with my family, and the Hosmers have helped my family out a lot. His dad is like my dad. His mom is unbelievable. It’s just such a great family.”

On Tuesday night, Mike Hosmer was at Kauffman Stadium. He had come to town for this series, hoping that Deven and Eric would both be here. But then Marrero got sent down last week, a move to make room for more pitching. They would miss each other again. But then third baseman Pablo Sandoval went on the disabled list because of an ear infection. On late Monday night, Marrero sent a FaceTime message to Hosmer.

“Hey, the kid is coming! Going to need some dinner.”

Moments later, as Mike Hosmer left Kauffman Stadium, he learned of the news.

“I was doing back flips in the tunnel last night,” he said on Tuesday afternoon. “To see them both on the same field is going to be … crazy.”

Marrero finished 2 for 2 with a walk, a double and a splendid play at third base, robbing his friend of a hit. Hosmer finished 0 for 3. Two old friends shared the same field. For both, it was a night they will not forget.

“That’s what we have dreamed of since we were 9 years old,” Marrero said. “To get to the major leagues, to play against each other and to hopefully play with each other one day.”

The Star’s Alec McChesney contributed to this story.

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