KAOISHUNG, Taiwan -- The father wore his son's uniform jersey and sat in the same dugout as him. He is a proud man and a gentleman, the father is. He felt blessed to be able to watch his son from the best seat in the ballpark, a place that is reserved for the players. But, for these games, the father sat next to the son.
Before Robinson Cano visited this island, he had heard stories about this faraway place through Jose, his father. For five different seasons, Jose Cano left his son in the Dominican Republic and traveled here to pitch. He pitched for the Uni-President Lions from 1992 to 1994 and for the Wei Chuan Dragons in 1998 and 1999. He pitched because that was how he made his living.
As soon as the son was invited to participate in a Major League tour of Taiwan, he telephoned his father. After Robinson excitedly described the upcoming trip, he gave Jose even sweeter news: Jose would be trekking back to his old baseball home because the son was bringing the father as a guest.
"Being able to tell my Dad that he was coming here was a great thing for me," Robinson said.
The father and the son were together for almost every step of this memorable trip. Wherever Robinson walked, Jose was usually a few steps behind him. That was done on purpose. Jose wanted to experience everything his son experienced, but he also wanted to watch how Robinson reacted to the endless attention.
It was a rewarding homecoming for Jose, who watched as his son was treated like royalty. From the fans who took Cano's picture at the airport or the train station to the people who followed him as he strolled through the night markets to the fans who shouted his name at the ballparks, he was smothered with affection. Cano enjoyed Taiwan so much that he said he would consider living here if it weren't so far from the Dominican Republic and New York.
"The people here treat you so well," Robinson said. "I didn't know it would be like this."
On a sleepy Sunday morning, about 500 people came to the Dream Mall to see Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson. In addition to the two Yankees, Jose Cano's name was also listed on a gigantic pinstriped billboard. After the players were introduced, Jose was invited to join them on the stage. The Lions, who organized the event, presented Jose with his former jersey.
"When my son told me I was coming back to Taiwan," Jose said, "I felt like I was going home."
He was. And the son helped make it a gratifying homecoming for the father.
Follow Jack Curry on Twitter: @JackCurryYES