When Jean Ross thinks of her son, Joe, as a baseball player, she still thinks of him as the 3-year-old playing catch in the front yard. Even now, as Joe has become a starting pitcher with the Nationals, Jean still remembers how much Joe always loved to pitch. With Jean serving as the catcher, Joe mimicked the pitchers he had watched on TV, shaking his mother off multiple times before delivering a pitch.
Although Joe was not yet old enough to play, he would carry his Fisher-Price bat and Wiffle ball to his siblings' Little League games, looking for anyone who would agree to pitch to him.
Nationals Mother's Day Collection
"He has been going to the ballpark since he was a newborn," Jean said. "He couldn't wait to play."
When Joe was finally old enough to play tee-ball, his father, Willie, was already coaching Joe's two older siblings -- Padres right-hander Tyson and sister Frankie, who played soccer at Portland State -- in two separate leagues. So Jean decided to step in and become her second son's first baseball coach.
"Give her all the credit," Joe said. "She was always supportive. Even between the three of us always having tournaments, she somehow made the time to get us to each one and be there."
Jean and Willie will celebrate Mother's Day this weekend in Chicago, taking in the Nationals' four-game series against the Cubs. The family originally planned the trip around both Joe and Tyson, whose Padres will come to Wrigley Field after the Nationals leave, but Tyson recently landed on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation. The family will still get to see Joe, who is scheduled to start on Thursday night.
Joe laughed as he recalled hearing his mother yelling and cheering from the stands when he was younger, especially while he was pitching.
"I used to hate it," Joe said with a laugh. "I could always hear her."
Joe's demeanor on the mound is one of the many reasons Jean is so proud of her son. He has always been very competitive and used to get visibly frustrated when he struggled. One of the most impressive aspects of Ross' stellar career-opening run with the Nationals is his poise and confidence on the mound.
"Everyone talks about that about how mature he is," Jean said. "[He has matured], coming from a very emotional young boy and being able to grow and learn and handle all that pressure, because I have so much white hair from both my boys being pitchers. We're really proud of him for that."
Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.