Cincinnati Reds starter Sal Romano took the mound Thursday with a special message written on his cleats: “R.I.P. Auntie Martha.”
The words were written in black ink and were small enough no one in the stands would have noticed. Even the TV cameras would have had to zoom in closely to see them. The message meant a lot to Romano, however, because they honored a woman, Martha M. Brooks, who was a big part of his life.
“It’s my mom’s best friend since they were 13 years old,” Romano said Sunday. “You have those type of people in your life that you call aunt or auntie or uncle. We just grew up together with their family and my cousins (Brooks’ daughters): Kelly, Erika and Nicole.”
Brooks, 50, passed away suddenly on April 7 in Hebron, Conn., according to her obituary. Her funeral was Friday in Hebron, Conn., and Romano, who’s from Southington, Conn., flew home to attend the funeral one day after his start in Cincinnati. He returned to Cincinnati on Saturday morning.
“I wanted to make sure I honored her day the before,” Romano said. “She watched all my games. She came to Citi Field (in New York City) when I pitched there last year. She was just a real good supporter for me. It’s just unfortunate. I really feel for the family. It was a little bit of travel, but the family really appreciated me being there and I felt I really needed to be there.”