5/9/2014 10:00 A.M. ET
Outside Frazier's spotlight, Mom beams with pride
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
CINCINNATI -- Primed for the baseball spotlight since he was a 12-year-old in the Little League World Series, Reds third baseman Todd Frazier is very outgoing and can always handle his share of media attention.
During those exhilarating days in 1998, Frazier and his Toms River, N.J., teammates won it all in Williamsport, Pa., becoming national celebrities who were invited to appear at Yankee Stadium and on national-television talk shows. People often asked Joan Frazier what it was like to watch her son on his once-in-a-lifetime ride.
Joan was far less interested in being interviewed, however.
"Every time somebody came around, like an ESPN person, and asked, 'Where's Joan Frazier? We want to talk to her to get her on TV.' They'd always go and ask her, 'Are you Joan Frazier?' She'd say, 'No, Joan Frazier is in the upper deck,' or something," Todd said. "She never got interviewed. It was the funniest thing. She's the nicest lady in the world and she makes me laugh. She never wants to be in the spotlight."
From watching inches away from the media glare, rather than under it, Joan was impressed with how Todd, now 28, handled everything. She still marvels today, even after her youngest son reached the Major Leagues and became one of the Reds' most approachable players.
"Little League was a summer of dreams for a 12-year-old boy. That was his first exposure to any kind media," Joan said. "I think the attention that was given to Todd was pure enjoyment and fun for him. I think he handled the exposure pretty well. The boys on that team had no clue of the intensity and attention that came their way. They were too young to realize the impact they had on themselves, and actually the U.S., for that matter. But I do feel, though, the TV cameras and sports writers did help him today in regard to talking with the media. He seems to be very comfortable when approached."
Back in the 1990s, Joan and Charles Frazier were typical parents of an athletic family with multiple kids. They shuttled the kids to their various games and took turns watching one's game or another and switching.
Todd appreciated the effort of both parents for making sure he could play and helping him along the way. But he liked knowing his mother was at his games.
"She's been there for me through thick and thin," said Todd, who played shortstop and batted .600 with four home runs in that '98 Little League World Series, He went 4-for-4 and pitched the final two innings of the title game.
"Whenever my Mom was there, it was always comforting for me," he said. "She understands baseball, but at the same time she just wants us to have fun."
Joan's game-watching ritual hasn't changed very much since Little League. She admits to being quite superstitious.
"The one thing I always do is make sure I wear my cross to the games," said Joan. "That's a must. I do get nervous most of the time when he is at bat and things haven't been going well. It's your son and you want him to do well."
"She always rubs the cross and prays each time I come to the plate," Todd said. "She still does it -- my wife tells me she does. It's her thing. Say I don't get a hit in one at-bat, she'll move her seat and she will walk around the stadium. If I get a hit, wherever she is sitting or standing or if she's eating, she'll find a way getting back to that spot."
Of course, the Major League season is a longer grind and all players are prone to rough stretches.
Joan isn't shy to interject with her thoughts when things aren't going well at the plate for Todd.
"She always has some wise cracks like, 'Aw man, you haven't gotten a hit. What's going on bud?'" Todd said. "It's nice and light, but I'm like, 'All right, here we go, Mom. Keep it up. It's all right.' She starts laughing.
"She worries if I'm 0-for-4. It's, 'How are you feeling? Is there anything wrong?' I'm like, 'No, Mom, stop it.' We start laughing. My dad is the one who is laid back. He'll say, 'You know it happens. Just keep swinging. On TV, your swing looks good.' I can hear my mom in the background, 'Try bunting the ball one time. Maybe you'll get on bunting the ball.'"
Whether he goes 4-for-4 or 0-for-4, Joan remains filled with pride about the type of player and more importantly, the person, Todd has become.
That goes for both on and off of the field.
"He is a very social person and seems to be able to communicate well with people," Joan said. "He has shown qualities as being a good husband, father, son and brother. He is very family-oriented. As a player, he seems to have a great rapport with all people associated with the Cincinnati organization and doesn't mind talking with the media. He enjoys meeting new people every day and embraces the fans. I think that is part of being a baseball player, and I am proud he is like that."
The Reds are hosting the Rockies on Mother's Day afternoon on Sunday at Great American Ball Park. Beyond a card and a phone call, it will likely be a low-key affair for the Frazier family.
"We don't make a big deal about it," Todd said. "She just wants to be appreciated and I think she deserves it."