Mariana Bichette Interview: Meet a Real Life Baseball Mom and Wife
Thursday December 29, 2011
MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen: On MLB reports, we bring you all the key people associated with the game. From team executives, coaches, scouts and players, we speak to everyone and anyone that is associated with the game. To fully appreciate the game of baseball and all its complexities, we feel that it is important to learn the game from every point of view. Today we break new ground, as have our first real life Baseball Mom and Wife on the Reports! Mariana Bichette is married to former MLB player Dante Bichette. Together, they raise two wonderful boys: Dante Jr. and Bo Bichette.
You will recognize the name Dante Bichette Jr. as the Yankees top selection in the 2011 MLB draft. Following in his father’s footsteps, Dante Jr. tore up the Gulf Coast League in his debut and helped lead the team to a championship in his first season! With brother Bo coming up the ranks as well, the baseball future for the Bichette family looks bright! Mariana Bichette is the straw that stirs the drink in this household. I got to speak to Mariana on a variety of subjects, including meeting Dante Bichette, getting married and her road on becoming a successful baseball mom and wife. Mariana was fantastic, as she opened up on all subjects and did not hold back. An extremely intelligent and engaging person, I received a great baseball education from her. If you ever wanted to know how a baseball family works behind the scenes, you are in for a treat today!
Featured on MLB reports, I proudly present my interview with Baseball Mom and Wife, Mariana Bichette:
MLB reports: First question: A baseball wife and mom. Did you envision that you would be in these roles when you first met your husband to be?
Bichette: Haha, no. I think I had been to a straight-A student baseball game early on in high school in St Louis, but that was the extent of my exposure to baseball until I met Dante. And when I met him, I was not thinking of marriage, not even close!
MLB reports: How did you meet Dante Bichette? Was it love at first sight? How long did you date before getting married?
Bichette: I was a student at Boston University, but I was really more a student of the city of Boston! Dante was the first person to walk in during my first day at work at Gold’s Gym on Landsdowne Street in Boston. I showed him around and made him a few protein shakes. He asked my manager to take me to the game and so my first day of work lasted about four hours. My manager and I walked across the street to the game. I had no idea that the structure across the street was Fenway Park, and did not understand what that meant to a Boston baseball fan in general. Afterwards, I told Dante to meet my friends and I at a bar that I worked at, which was also located on Landsdowne. I was about 45 minutes late and I was literally minutes away from not meeting him. Dante was walking out as I walked in. The rest is history. We were married 2 years later. As a side note, I now have a huge photograph of Landsdowne Street, Gold’s on the left, Fenway on the right, hanging in my family room!
MLB reports: How did you find the baseball wife lifestyle? Is it the glorious lifestyle as envisioned by most?
Bichette: I think that’s a funny question. I guess some people see it as a glamorous life. I did know some people who made it glamorous, I guess. But to me, I just met a guy who played baseball and figured it out along the way. We have had 40 changes of address logged with the post office. I moved from apartment to apartment and never lived in a home more than parts of 2 years during Dante’s career. I made friends just about as quickly as I would see them go, via release or trade. Literally, I moved in and out of homes three times a year and somehow raised two kids along the way.
I learned sports massage, carried a massage table over one shoulder while pushing a stroller and holding a hand through pretty much every airport in the country. I settled kids in and then gave Dante a sports massage, once, sometimes twice a day. But I didn’t struggle to travel. I could bring help as my option. I was able to catch Broadway shows and visit museums. I enjoyed dinners in the finest restaurants, often after hours. I also got to watch my husband do something with his life that only a relative handful of people ever get to try. So, depends on what people define as glamorous. I’m usually in jeans or in yoga clothes. I never want for anything but I also never want much. I did enjoy being around the best of the best everyday. I learned a lot from that time in my life.
MLB reports: When Dante hung up the spikes and retired, how did your life change?
Bichette: By that time, I was “home” in Orlando Monday through Friday for Dante Jr’s school. We would travel weekends to see daddy and then all summer. So, the airplane travel to big league stadiums stopped, but we traded it for auto travel to youth baseball complexes around the southeast US. Fortunately, I did have help. I didn’t have to try to be in two places at once. For Dante, I am sure it was a huge change. For me, I just had less on my plate and could turn my attention to my kids’ sports rather than my husband’s. And, I didn’t have to pack up so often. So for me, life got really streamlined.
After about three years, I sort of relaxed and got accustomed to the new “normal life”. At that point, when Dante would consider coaching jobs, I would suffer mini freak outs. I associate the baseball life to being on a hamster wheel- no big deal when you get it going. But, hop off and realize what you were on…. I just would die thinking about starting up again!
MLB reports: Please give us a little background on your education/ work experience. What do you do for a living?
Bichette: I started at Boston University in Boston but I met Dante at barely 18! I had to finish up my degree via correspondence and then online courses. It took ten years :) During baseball, I was always fully engaged in whatever philanthropic efforts were being supported by our team at the time. Now, I help to run my younger son’s team, and other kids we have in these small hitting groups, in our cages we have in Orlando. I’ve never not worked, I just have never actually made any money, haha!
MLB reports: You must get bombarded with a ton of questions on your son, Dante Jr. This interview will be no different ;) What was Jr. like growing up? Good boy or rebel?
Bichette: A combination. A rebel but not towards me. Really directed at the established kid/ teen culture. So a good boy, but at the same time, not boring and angelic. He always had a good scheme tucked away in his head. Never boring! Such a mom thing to say: When D was born, I described him as my perfect person. Now I would describe both my boys the same way, D and his younger brother Bo. You cannot put them in a “box” or label either of my children. You can trust them but they march to the beat of their own drum for sure. They are great that way.
MLB reports: At 19-years of age, Dante Jr. already has a season under his belt. Did you think he would become a professional baseball player so quickly?
Bichette: About halfway through his senior season of High School, I began to think that yes, his development was going to snowball on us and land D in pro ball earlier than expected. That’s exactly what happened.
MLB reports: What was the discussion like in having Dante Jr. sign with the Yankees this past year with their top selection? Did you have reservations about him playing and not going to school?
Bichette: There was one thing we knew- if someone picked him first, and possibly second, he was going. Period. He could have been picked much earlier with someone’s 10th pick, or 4th pick, and we wouldn’t have been so excited. I kept a pretty good log of all my communication with scouts along the way, and had it pretty nailed down so that I knew where the interest was. I knew that he had a chance to go in the mid-30’s. But I also felt that the scouting community had him undervalued in respect to two or three teams, which had held their cards pretty close to their chests. So I felt there was a good chance teams would think they could get him later, and that he could drop to the Yankees at 51. As a family we were really impressed with how thorough the Yankees were with D. The team knew him as well as any club could. So if the Yankees were going to defy the “experts” and take him, the only question to us was when to report. We have the moment on video- it is priceless, D all decked out in a Jeter jersey, with all of us inside screaming our heads off. Poor Damon Oppenheimer, the scouting director- he called us and I’m sure no one made any sense. We just screamed ‘thank you’ at him. It was perfect, as if we had always known that this was where he was meant to be. It was actually surreal, as none of us had one ounce of apprehension about getting to Tampa and getting going.
MLB reports: Are you currently based in Florida? Your husband took a non-traditional post-retirement route. He coached for a short while and is now playing professional tennis? What’s the deal with that?
Bichette: Yes, in Orlando. Well, he had to try the coaching route but soon realized he was going to miss just as much of the kids’ lives as he would have if he had been a platoon player. So that was a short-lived experiment. Maybe some day. He actually does not play professional tennis. I mean, he made like $35 at a club championship once, but that hardly counts. Rumors take off, so that’s funny that his “tennis career” is taken as fact. No- club tennis only. Dante became about as good as a club player gets pretty quickly, blew out his knees doing so, and now coaches our kids and their teams. Actually, I guess now just Bo’s teams- and he runs invite-only hitting groups to get kids ready for their seasons. TV, radio, the things that could be more expected- those don’t appeal to him. He does local TV here and there, that’s it. No desire to run up to the MLB Network regularly, with no need to stay in the public eye. But we keep busy. You’d be amazed what it takes to really train a handful of kids well.
MLB reports: Is it hard to have your son away from home? What are the feelings you went through as a mom sending him off to his first professional team?
Bichette: Yes. That was great to plan. But then when I dropped him off, I am sure I cried all the way home. I couldn’t even stay to watch his first game. Luckily for us, he is based in Tampa, just an hour and a half away. So for the GCL we were there, with our coolers and umbrellas, like dorks, at almost every game. It was great though, as I got to meet his teammates, take everyone to dinner, and watch the championship game and cheer our heads off. I will probably die when he goes away to a full season league… First of pride, then of missing him. But I’ll figure it out and probably show up relatively often. I was talking with D about this a couple of weeks ago; we figured that maybe 2 weeks is the longest span of time we will not see each other. I am going to try to only be happy and excited for him and to not skype him every day. But I will not promise that.
MLB reports: There are many influences out there in the world, including booze, drugs and PEDs. How do you as a mom help teach your son to stay away from the negative aspects of society and keep on the right path?
Bichette: This cannot be answered fully in this forum. I will say it starts when the child is young and it involves an all-encompassing value system. For us, it is Christianity, being parents who are open and honest about their experiences,struggles and decisions, and nearly constant involvement and communication with and between parent and child. I sat with D for hours upon hours discussing choices he could make and what outcomes they might bring. We ran practices. We ran teams. I was the mom sitting around waiting for the carload of kids I took to wherever we all chose to go for the day. In short, I never gave him a chance to refuse to be with me or to listen to me. But I gave up adult things like parties and galas as part of the process. So I think I earned the right to speak in his mind; I wasn’t a hypocrite. We have a unique perspective on PEDs, given that Dante played MLB during the steroid era. We have shared our decision-making process with our kids over and over. Basically we believe we left millions on the table by deciding Dante would not take PEDs. I wouldn’t have stayed with him if he did, so he chose his family over a lot of baseball numbers. I don’t know- I think there’s no secret or easy answer to this. It is a matter of staying close enough and involved enough to be invited into conversations. It is taking every opportunity at any given time to pour into your child, hoping that everything you say settles in, and the right decisions will come as a result.
MLB reports: I see that you are very active on Twitter. How did you come to find the social media and what has your experiences been like?
Bichette: I get made fun of so often for Facebook and Twitter because I like them both. Yet I originally thought I would hate them. I joined them both to stay in tune with who was in my kids’ virtual circle and then ended up finding all my own friends on the sites. I probably should not be having so much fun on either, but oh well :) I haven’t had bad experiences and actually met new people who have become friends on both!
MLB reports: Your son is also active on Twitter- where is dad?
Bichette: Both my kids are on Twitter and Facebook, and Dante lives vicariously through what we tell him. But has less than zero interest in either. Once in a while he says, “Ok, I guess I should do this huh?” We say, “Yes”, and then, he doesn’t…
MLB reports: Have you watched the VH1 show “Baseball Wives?” If so, what are your thoughts? Did anyone approach you for the show?
Bichette: You know, the premise is embarrassing and misleading. There’s a huge divorce rate in baseball… maybe some of that is due to people getting married to also achieve fame. If anything, I think we needed anonymity during Dante’s career, not more attention. So, I don’t understand wanting to be on the show. On the other hand, if it were used to portray a wife of a baseball player instead of someone who labeled herself a “Baseball Wife” then I think it would have less of an ick factor to me. No, I was not approached for that show.
MLB reports: Could you see yourself in the future on television on any reality shows, whether it be “Baseball Wives” or a show devoted to the Bichette family?
Bichette: No. We have been approached twice to do a show based on our family. I am going to give myself some credit and say that I am not so desirous of attention. I have too much foresight to allow that to happen. Does anyone see what happens to families who go that route? Not interested!
MLB reports: What are some things that people may not know about Dante Sr. and Jr.? Moms always know the scoops- let’s hear it!
Bichette: This is way too open-ended (laugh). They are both endearingly strange. They are both myopic in their focus and can work forever at something they love and can’t bring themselves to work at all at something they don’t. Dante Sr has one signature dance move and if you ask him to show it, he will proudly oblige. D can rap, is ultra witty- but at the same time can be too sarcastic. Also, he decided to learn the guitar last week and so, he did. Like in three days. The power of that kid’s mind is unreal. Dante Sr is ridiculously afraid of heights and D likes to shoot himself 300 feet into the air at amusement parks, despite the fact that I’d rather he not. Hmmm… Dante Sr used to go on the Professional Foosball Tour during some baseball offseasons. D looks like a tour tennis player when he hits. I sometimes wish he would have pursued tennis, as I would have loved to see that….
MLB reports: What are your plans for the future Mariana? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Bichette: Perfect question- I work in 5 year plans. So, Bo is 13 and so for the next 5 years, I will be mapping out and executing his development as a person and in baseball. I know that sounds either exceedingly serious (aren’t 13-year olds supposed to just hang out and be 13), or somewhat uninspired and boring. But it’s neither. It will take every bit of brain power I can muster, because in between I have to visit D and make sure I do what I can to encourage his path.
We built these batting cages that have lovingly become known as “The Warehouse” amongst the serious hitters in town. We built them for the kids when D was 14 and he grew up there. We used them to teach initiative, discipline, work ethic and perseverance. Now we also have a killer gym in there. So there literally is no excuse not to get your body right and your hitting in. When D was here, between his team and Bo’s teams (little league, travel ball, school) we were packed and stretched for time. Since D left, we decided to allow other kids to train. We have small groups that Dante Sr works with and there is a waiting list! I train moms while the kids hit- it’s a blast. So in the next few years, I will figure out how to best get kids what they need without causing families to go broke (I hate how youth baseball has become so financially draining). I hope in five years, Bo and all the kids in his grade that train with us are drafted and on their way to the big leagues. From there, I will probably close up shop and go watch them all!
MLB reports: Last question: To any woman about to become a baseball wife or mom, what advice do you have? What is needed to succeed in each role?
Bichette: The advice I would have is the same for the soon to be wife of anyone- make sure you are in love with the man, not the profession. Because the man will still be there when the profession is gone. If that’s the case, make sure you are ready to go with the flow. For baseball specifically, be adaptable and open to change, and be able to set up and get on with life quickly and break it down and move on just as quickly. If you want to have the same cul-de-sac of friends for thirty years, I’m snot sure this is for you. Become independent but a good companion at the same time. Be happy to play a supportive role.
Think long-term and have fun watching your husband do something that is amazing. A baseball wife needs to be self-confident and essentially be a non-complaining single mom. I would suggest that moms consider keeping the family unit together as much as possible. Don’t try to be normal, as you won’t be. Look at your life with kids on the road as a life of adventure and opportunity. Don’t be afraid to take along help so that you can enjoy your husband’s career along with him. No one may give you credit for working, but if you keep a family close and together for the long haul, while helping pursue a one in a million career choice: you will know that you have worked and done well!
***A special thank you to Mariana Bichette for her time and effort as part of being interviewed for this article. You can follow Mariana on Twitter (@MarianaBichette) and if you are really nice, she might become friends with you on Facebook! You can also follow her sons on Twitter: Dante Jr. (@Dante19jr) and Bo (@ichibo19)***
Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports: You can follow Jonathan on Twitter (@JHacohen)
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Posted on December 29, 2011, in Interviews with MLB Stars and tagged baseball, baseball mom, baseball wife, bo bichette, dante bichette, dante bichette jr, mariana bichette, mlb. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.