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Never too late for father-son relationship

Baseball brings Alous closer together

NEW YORK -- Moises Alou's childhood had all the ingredients of a dream. His father, Felipe, ensured that much, with his reputation alone showering Moises with all the advantages of a good life. And so the younger Alou was born into fame -- a miniature Dominican icon of sorts -- while his father took his hacks up in the big leagues.

There was just one problem. Alou's parents divorced when he was two years old, and Moises, living with his mother, never got to see that big star. Felipe was so busy with a career that took him from the Atlantic to the Pacific to Canada and beyond, that it was rare for him to spend time with his son.

"My dad was a celebrity in the Dominican," Moises said. "I was Felipe Alou's son, and I wanted to show off my dad, but he was never around."

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For all his luxuries, Moises' life seemed incomplete. Especially when the one ideal he yearned for -- a family -- seemed so impossibly foreign.

"I didn't know any better," Moises said, "but it was tough to see the rest of my friends living with both of their parents all the time, and I only lived with my mom. I really missed my dad."

So he did something about it. If there's one influence the absent father had on his son, it was baseball. And once his speed and his power began to cooperate with his dream, Moises was on his way.

Perhaps Moises couldn't be with his father, but he could at least be like him.

"He didn't force me into the game, but everybody wants to be like their dad," Moises said. "I wanted to be a ballplayer, because my dad was a ballplayer."

Little did he know what -- and who -- he would meet along the way. After climbing through the Minor Leagues for nearly half a decade, Moises finally broke into the Majors in 1990 with the Pirates, who promptly shipped him off to the Expos that same summer.

And that's where, in Alou's eyes, a minor miracle transformed his life. Just two years after moving north, Moises was hit with a shock when his father decided to become a big-league manager with the Expos.

Father and son were finally reunited. But for all the situation's poignancy, frankly, everything seemed a little strange.

"It was like somebody that you just met," Mosies said, though still able to laugh at those early days. "I didn't want to drink too much beer in front of him and other stuff like that."

Slowly, the relationship warmed and all of that early wariness melted away, sort of.

The duo spent five years together in Montreal, and Moises wouldn't have traded them for the world. But something was still missing -- something that wouldn't quite click until almost a decade later.

The ensuing years brought about a whirlwind of change for Moises, who first signed with the Marlins before being traded to the Astros, and then signing again as a free agent, this time with the Cubs. Meanwhile, Felipe was holding steady in Montreal, loyal to the club that had given him his first managerial break.

The Expos eventually dismissed Felipe in the midst of contraction talk, though it took just one year for the Giants to lure the veteran coach out of retirement. And when Moises because a free agent two years later, there was really only one option as to where he would sign.

Father and son were again reunited, and this time was even better than the first. They spent just two years together in San Francisco, but with the barriers already broken, they became closer than ever. Edging toward 40 years old, Alou finally found the relationship that he always wanted with his father.

"Every day I was in my dad's office, and after batting practice we were eating together, talking," Moises said. "We had more dinner and lunch in the two years I was in San Francisco than in the six years I was in Montreal.

"I got to know him better, and now we have a great relationship. Before, we were both shy around each other. Now, there's more trust around each other, and we can talk about anything."

Now, the two speak regularly. Felipe's since retired, ending his San Francisco tenure with two lackluster seasons. But to Moises, those two seasons -- along with his six in Montreal -- may just have been the most exceptional of his life.

"I played for my dad for eight years -- eight wonderful years that I got to see him on Father's Day and on his birthday," Moises said. "That was the greatest feeling."

Anthony DiComo is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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