Gomes has taken tough road to success
Reds slugger spent parts of his childhood homeless with family
MILWAUKEE -- You won't hear any whining from the mouth of Jonny Gomes. Good luck trying to draw the mildest of complaints from the Reds left fielder.A Mohawk-headed grinder, Gomes isn't happy-go-lucky. But give him a tractor-trailer full of lemons, and he would find a way to build a chain of lemonade stands from Cincinnati to his hometown of Petaluma, Calif. "There's nothing I want more in my baseball world than to be in the middle of the lineup during all of this team's success," Gomes said. "That's what I've got going on now. I'm pretty happy." Gomes, 29, was the very last offseason addition the Reds made this winter when they re-signed him as a free agent to a one-year, $800,000 contract on Feb. 22. Even though he had 20 homers and 51 RBIs in only 281 at-bats as a part-time player last season, he was unemployed all winter. It only served to motivate an already motivated Gomes. Now batting .265 with 17 home runs and having smashed his previous career high with 84 RBIs, he moved into a full-time role in left field in May by hitting .364 for the month. The season has added another chapter to what's already been a baseball version of a Horatio Alger-like story. As a teenager, Gomes had concerns far greater than where he might play professional baseball for large sums of money. There were times in his youth that Gomes, his mother Michelle and older brother Joey, lived literally hand-to-mouth. Occasionally homeless, the Gomes family would sometimes have to spend the night in a shelter. "It's two totally different aspects of life -- a hard time in baseball vs. the hard time in life," Gomes said. "The hard time in life is you don't know where your next meal is going to be." Gomes' pride in his hometown of Petaluma stems from the citizens' generosity. His family often had friends give them a place to sleep and meals to eat. "We were surrounded by great people. Our friends took us in all the time," Gomes said. "I never wanted to go to the shelter. Sometimes it was the last option. I felt like that was rock bottom going there. My mom would go way more than we would, because we could stay at our friends' houses and stuff. "We rallied together. Talking about it, it might seem like, 'Oh my gosh,' or a tough story. It really wasn't while you're there. It was tough, but it was just the hand we were dealt. We just rolled with it. We didn't drop our heads and feel sorry for ourselves."
|"There's nothing I want more in my baseball world than to be in the middle of the lineup during all of this team's success."|
|-- Jonny Gomes|