Like the lighthouse, mom was a beacon for Mazara

Yanira Mazara set a path for Rangers rookie's journey to Majors

Like the lighthouse, mom was a beacon for Mazara

ARLINGTON -- The Faro a Colon was opened in 1992 in celebration of the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus' first voyage to America. The $70 million, 688-foot tall lighthouse is so powerful that its beams can be seen across the Caribbean in Puerto Rico, and the story is the remains of the famous explorer are buried on site.

The lighthouse is near the waterfront of Santo Domingo, not far from Base Naval 27 de Febrero, where Nomar Mazara's father is a high-ranking member of the Dominican Republic Navy.

Mazara grew up in the middle-class neighborhood, and while his father was tending to his naval duties, the son was at home with his mother Yanira. Among Mazara's favorite memories was taking an almost daily stroll through the city park around the famous lighthouse.

"Almost every afternoon we would go to the park and walk," Mazara said.

The naval base is named in honor of the date when the Dominican Republic gained independence from Haiti in 1844. Mazara's father had to rise early in the morning to report to duty and didn't return until dinnertime or later.

Mother's Day is special for Mazara because he spent so much time with Yanira while his father was at work, and the walks around the lighthouse are just part of his fond childhood memories.

"She was great," Mazara said. "It was tougher because my older brother and sister were a pain when we were younger. She is awesome. She taught me how to do things right … how to treat people and how to respect people. She was there every day."

There was the lighthouse, Sunday morning Mass, terrific home cooking and the occasional family vacation in the Dominican resort city of Punta Cana. But most of all, it was about a mother who just wanted her son to grow up and be something special.

"She wanted me to play baseball, but she wanted me to go to school more," Mazara said. "So every day she would say, 'You want to play baseball?' I said, 'Yeah,' ... She said, 'You decide, if you want to play baseball, then you better go to school, too.' I was a good student. I didn't like to do it, but I had to do it.

"I wasn't 100 percent going to be a baseball player. I was like 12, and I wasn't sure. Neither was she, so she said, 'You better go to school. If you don't make it to pro ball, you are going to be somebody.' She didn't care what I wanted to be, whatever you want to be, you can do it, just go to school."

Actually, baseball was not Mazara's first love.

"I played basketball before I played baseball," Mazara said. "But my dad, he was like, he told me quit playing basketball and start playing baseball. He made the right decision, but after I got done playing, I would go home, shower, put some clothes on and go play basketball. Spend the whole night playing basketball."

Mazara insists his older siblings were much more of a trial for their mother.

"They were a pain in the rear," Mazara said. "Anytime they did some bad, they would run away and she would throw her heel at my brother, hit him in the head.

"I wasn't a good boy, but I wasn't that bad. I wasn't afraid. My dad didn't talk at all. She spent more time with us. She was the hard hand at home. She knew how to control us."

Five years ago the Rangers signed Mazara to a record-breaking $4.95 million signing bonus. He was 16 years old at the time, and now, five years later, Mazara is in the big leagues. His parents were in town last month to see their son play for the Rangers for the first time.

For Mazara, it was a thrill for his mother to see that all the love, work and discipline paid off.

"It was everything," Mazara said. "It means all to me. That was the dream for them to see me in the big leagues, and that was a dream for me, too, when I was a little kid. It was awesome having them here."

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.