If you want to challenge Julie Shaw’s memory, see if you can get her to try to remember a time when her little boy Travis — who is now the starting third baseman for the Boston Red Sox — didn’t have a bat or a ball in hand.
“Literally since, I would say, 2 years old, this is what I’ve known he’s wanted to do.,” said Julie Shaw. “He had ball and bat in his hand since he was 2 years old.”
While Travis Shaw was fortunate enough to have a father — Jeff Shaw — who was a successful closer in the Major Leagues, he had a mother whose impact was enormous for all those years that dad was on the road.
“When it comes to anything outside of baseball, she’s always the first go-to,” said Travis Shaw. “She always was, and still, to this day, always is. We still talk very frequently. If not every day, every two or three days.”
On Mother’s Day, Julie will have the thrill of turning on her television and watching Travis play Sunday Night Baseball at Yankee Stadium. It will mark the one-week anniversary of when she watched her son hammer a game-tying home run against the Yankees at Fenway Park — another Sunday Night Game.
Julie and Jeff Shaw don’t miss an inning of Red Sox baseball from their home in Washington Court House, Ohio. How could they? What is going on right now is too rewarding.
Travis Shaw didn’t get the same hype as countless other Red Sox prospects after being a ninth-round pick in 2011. But he got a chance down the stretch last season and capitalized. And this past Spring Training, when he was projected as a backup, he outright won the job from Pablo Sandoval and has been one of the best hitters on the Red Sox early in the season.
“I can’t even explain the feeling, honestly,” said Julie. “This is his dream, which has also been his dad’s dream and my dream right along with him, and just knowing that he was finally living out his dream is just amazing. Honestly, I can’t explain it any more than that. It means so much, it really does.”
There are two distinct portions of Travis Shaw’s childhood. There is birth (April 16, 1990) through the end of dad’s baseball career (Oct. 6, 2001). And then there is the rest, when dad helped mold him into the baseball player he became, and mom was also around for all the other stuff.
“She was huge,” said Travis. “We were always with my mom, whether that was travelling to see my dad or wherever. He was gone a lot. It was always mom doing everything, kind of doing both duties while he wasn’t there.”
Travis Shaw and his two siblings (Molly and Griffin) were always in good hands.
“Looking back on it now, it had to be hard — there were three of us,” said Travis Shaw. “Especially the last couple of years of his career and all the way out in Los Angeles, which is pretty much as far away from Ohio as you can get. For her to do that all on her own, that takes a special person. I’m very grateful for what she’s done for my brother and sister and myself, especially during that time, and still to this day, she’s very involved in all three of us.”
In the course of this interview, in fact, Julie Shaw was dropping Jeff off at a high school baseball game where Griffin was playing.
“It never ends,” Julie said with a laugh.
Travis is the oldest by five years, which gave him time to form that close bond with his mother.
“We’ve always been really close,” said Julie. “Travis has a relationship with his dad that’s baseball. He would always talk to me about life and girls and all that other stuff. We’ve been close since Day One and still to this day, very close.”
Julie is prouder of who Travis is as a person than a player.
“He is, and he really has always truly been so humble,” said Julie. “When I was trying to think of anything he ever did wrong, the only thing I could come up with was that he got a speeding ticket. He’s just been a great kid. He really, truly has. And I don’t know if that’s being the first child and being Jeff Shaw’s son, he felt like he had something to live up to. He’s been a great kid his whole 26 years of life. He never gave us a problem.”
That might have a little something to do with the woman that raised him.
“She still does everything for everybody,” said Travis. “Whatever you ask, she’s the first person to do it.”
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.