Ventura finds support from family bond

Ventura finds support from family bond

Ventura finds support from family bond
CHICAGO -- After the initial shock wore off when Robin Ventura was offered a three-year deal as the new White Sox manager, Stephanie Ventura stood strong in her husband's corner as he embarked on this challenging new endeavor.

But there were a few more meetings that had to take place before the entire Ventura family could sign off on the decision.

"My main concern and Robin's concern was our family and our children and how it would affect them," said Stephanie Ventura, during a phone interview from the family's California home. "I was pretty excited right from the beginning, after the shock wore off, but we talked to each kid separately to see what they felt about the situation.

"We've all been together out here in California the last seven years, and we liked having dad home. The kids wanted to make sure our home life would not change, my relationship with Robin would not change, and their relationship wouldn't change.

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"They were very mature about it and asked the right questions," Stephanie said. "There was some concern, but they were all on board."

Robin and Stephanie Ventura have been together since high school in 1984 and have been married since 1990 -- set to celebrate their 22nd wedding anniversary this November. And as Stephanie pointed out, from the time Robin retired at age 36, following his second season with the Dodgers in 2004, up until he made his managerial debut in 2012, he usually was home at the end of the day with the family.

So, the new geographic distance between the happy couple and among the rest family was the biggest obstacle in Robin's new career path.

"We spent a lot of time together and my kids have seen that through the years, we don't do well apart," Stephanie said. "We really enjoy each others company, and they wanted to know if I would be OK.

"It's always a big change. Emotionally for me and for them, it took some getting used to. We were all used to being able to get ahold of anyone whenever you wanted."

The Ventura family numbers six with their four children: Rachel, 19; Madison, 18; Grace, 16; and Jack, 13. The oldest two are in college at Oklahoma State and Cal Poly, respectively, Grace is in high school and Jack is in seventh grade.

When the children were younger, Stephanie explained traveling was a bigger production. So the Ventura family would always move to where Robin was playing.

"He had to be there, so I was there," Stephanie said. "That's the life we decided."

The kids are all old enough now that they can travel on their own -- and so can their mom, with Stephanie having visited Robin four times in six weeks during Spring Training and already having been to Chicago twice and on the road a couple of times during the regular season. The family will be in town this week and celebrate Mother's Day together.

Shortly after all the kids finish school on June 14, the Ventura family will be in Chicago. They will have dad back in the fold full-time, or as full-time as he can be with his particular workload.

During Spring Training, Robin would regularly get up at five in the morning. He was ready to do nothing more but eat and go to bed by the time the day of baseball was done, even if his family wasn't.

"They are like, 'Hey, we are up. Let's go do something,'" Ventura said. "And it's more like, 'You can go do something. I'm not going to do anything.'

"That's the tough part. Especially the last eight years -- I've been available. And that's the hardest part right now. Their adjustment in getting back into it, I'm not available like I was before.

"She's very good at running the house. But I think she appreciated some help," said a smiling Ventura of his wife. "So, the tough part is she's kind of doing all the work. I'm working, but she's doing the family stuff that I was available for most of them growing up."

There's no official role for Stephanie as the manager's wife or as the unofficial White Sox first lady. And she laughs when asked if any suggestions are made to her husband in regard to lineup changes or baseball matters.

Her job is to help Robin keep perspective and balance, making sure that work is work and home is home, and show her natural support for a job that they never really saw coming.

"It certainly was not on the radar in the immediate future," said Stephanie of Robin becoming a manager. "It was something he had hoped to do and dreamed to do, but we didn't know it would happen so quickly.

"Other than being apart, and that's the name of the game in baseball, it has been an unbelievable opportunity and I couldn't be more proud of what he's doing. It's different in the sense that I'm not concerned about him personally how he plays or how he feels or hits. It's all about the outcome of the game, wins and losses for him.

"We've been together more of our lives than we've been apart," Stephanie said. "He's a great dad, and he's an amazing husband. I can't imagine anyone treating me as wonderful he has. He is what you get -- it's not a show. He's kind and generous, but firm and in charge. He has a dry wit, which we may not appreciate as much, but he sees the world from his own perspective."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.