Jimenez's mother instilled value of education

Right-hander made sure to get degree before starting pro career

Jimenez's mother instilled value of education

BALTIMORE -- Ubaldo Jimenez was set to begin his dream to play professional baseball as a 16-year-old. His mother, Ramona, had other plans.

"The Mets offered me around $20,000, but my mom said no. She said, 'You are not going to sign until you finish high school,'" Jimenez said.

The following year, Jimenez had a tryout with the Rockies and Rolando Fernandez, now Colorado's vice president of international scouting and development, said he could sign Jimenez and permit the right-hander to finish the final few months needed for his degree. Jimenez still smiles at the thought.

"That's why I signed with the Rockies," he said. '[Getting an education] was everything for my mom, especially. My dad was the baseball fan, he taught me everything and got me into baseball. But my mom, she didn't like baseball a lot. She was like, you better have a good record [in school]. If not, you are not going to play. But I'm glad she did that because I have a better education because she did that. She made me go to school. In the Dominican [Republic], either you play baseball or you go to school, you don't have a lot of guys who finish high school."

Jimenez, whose sister is a doctor, learned the value of hard work from his parents growing up, as both worked multiple jobs to keep food on the table. His dad, Ubaldo, Sr. juggled two careers after leaving the military while Ramona also kept busy.

"She was always doing stuff to make extra money. Selling stuff, cooking, going to the hospital and being a nurse," Jimenez said. "She would do everything for us."

So when Ubaldo signed his first big contract going into 2009, a four-year, $10-million dollar deal with Colorado, he decided it was time to make a big purchase for Ramona.

"I bought her a house," Jimenez said. "I bought it for my mom because we always rented. We didn't have enough money to buy a house."

Ramona, 57, also stopped working a few years ago at her son's urging. Now, Jimenez's parents will come up to Baltimore for several months during the season. Ramona will cook and help do laundry and give Ubaldo a little feeling of home. Even when they're in the Dominican, Jimenez's parents never miss watching an Orioles game.

"It's a dream come true," Jimenez said of being able to provide for his family. "As soon as I started looking at baseball as a way I could improve my life and my family, the first goal was, I was going to buy a house."

It's been the only big purchase for Jimenez, who splits his time between that house and a place in Miami during the offseason. This year, like the past few years, Ramona will celebrate Mother's Day on May 10, even though it's later in the month in the Dominican Republic.

"They've been everything to me," Jimenez said of his parents. "They've raised me the right way and worked hard to get food on the table every day for me and my sister. I owe everything to them."

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.