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Tat-two part harmony: Javy Baez, brother wear love of the game on necks in Derby

Baez during the 2017 playoffs

SAN DIEGO — The legend of Cubs second baseman Javy Baez’s tattoo of the Major League Baseball logo started with the story that began circulating among scouts after an event honoring some of the best high school players in Florida in his senior year.

Players took turns introducing themselves to the crowd and stating their college commitments. When Baez took his turn, the story goes, he said his name, then turned his head, pointed to the logo on the back of his neck and declared: ‘‘University of Major League Baseball.’’

Baez recently said he didn’t remember that.

What he remembers most about the tattoo is the immediate dread that set in after he, his brothers and several cousins all got the same tattoo in the same spot on the neck a year earlier.

‘‘I was just worried about my mom, to be honest, that she would be mad about us getting tattoos,’’ said Baez, who will join teammate Willson Contreras as first-time All-Stars in the Midsummer Classic on Tuesday in Washington and joined teammate Kyle Schwarber in the Home Run Derby on Monday. (Baez lost in the first round to the Dodgers’ Max Muncy 17-16.)

This week is filled with enough meaning for Baez that some visitors to Washington might think they’re seeing double — or even triple — at times because so many people with the same MLB logo tattoos will be in town. That includes Baez’s older brother Gadiel, who pitched to him in the Home Run Derby, putting one of the most recognized tattoos in baseball on center stage in two-part harmony.

Even though Baez was right to be worried about his mom’s reaction and drew some unflattering attention from opponents, he said he has no regrets about getting the first of his many tattoos.


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‘‘I still feel the same way,’’ he said. ‘‘I got the tattoo for the love of the game.’’

It earned him as much scrutiny as love from scouts at the time, including Cubs player-development executive Jason McLeod, who scouted him for the Padres.

‘‘I thought it was super-flashy,’’ said McLeod, who joined Theo Epstein’s front office with the Cubs the year after former general manager Jim Hendry’s regime drafted Baez ninth overall in 2011. ‘‘Yeah, maybe without knowing him, flashy, cocky, arrogant almost. You see a 17-year-old high school kid with the MLB tat — you don’t see things like that.

‘‘But I’ll say this: What I got to realize was just how much he loves to compete. Yes, how freakishly talented he is. But once the game is on, this guy wants to win and he wants to compete and he loves to play baseball.’’

Baez will share that love in Washington with enough brothers, uncles and other family members that he didn’t know the exact number without going through the names.

And, yes, his mom will be there.

And about all those tattoos?

‘‘Yeah, she still don’t like them,’’ Baez said. ‘‘Every time I get one, she’s like: ‘Oh, another one. You going to keep going?’ ’’