Twenty three years.
That’s how long it’d been since Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts last saw his father, Jan Maarten Bogaerts.
Maarten had left his family behind in Aruba when Xander and his twin brother Jair were just three years old. They, along with their older sister Chandra, were raised by their single mother, Sandra Brown, often referred to as supermom by the kids. Brown did her best to make a home for her children, filling in any gap left behind by their father.
“She didn’t make it feel like there was something missing,” Chandra said, per Bleacher Report’s Joon Lee.
According to Lee, Brown was adamant that they maintain at least some kind of relationship with their father up until they turned 18, so they spoke with him on special occasions– Father’s Day, birthdays, Christmas– but since Maarten lived mainly in Hong Kong, there were no visits.
Maarten felt compelled to reach out to his son when the Red Sox reached the World Series in 2013 but Xander, who was just 21 at the time, didn’t feel like he was ready. So Maarten, determined to see his son play in person for the first time, took an 18-hour flight to St. Louis to watch his son win the World Series. He flew home the next day.
Chandra told Lee that she began mending her relationship with her father when she chose to attend college in Hong Kong; Jair did the same when he was on a trip across Europe two years ago. Xander was the last of his siblings to reunite with his father.
When the two did reunite, it was on baseball’s grandest stage. Xander reached out to Maarten after the Red Sox beat the Houston Astros to advance to the World Series. He called his father and asked if he and his wife would come to Los Angeles to witness his second career appearance in the Fall Classic. Of course, Maarten accepted.
Maarten flew to Los Angeles and met his son face to face for the first time in 23 years the night before Game 3 against the Dodgers. The two talked over dinner, followed by breakfast the next morning. It was the first time that all three siblings had been together with their father since before Maarten left. They took family photos, their first in two decades, and Maarten got to experience Xander’s second World Series win with all three of his children.
“I’ve forgiven him for everything, all the time he wasn’t here,” Xander said, per Lee. “I’m trying to enjoy the good times we’re going to have going forward, and hopefully we can see him more often… I’m just glad we won it in Dodger Stadium while he was here.”
“It’s all worth it,” Maarten agreed. “It’s all worth it.”