It’s Thanksgiving week and it’s a big one for former Major Leaguer and current MLB Network analyst Harold Reynolds.
After watching his daughter play softball in Los Angeles this weekend, Reynolds flew to his home state of Oregon to visit family, including his mother, Lettie, 93. On Wednesday, Reynolds will fly to the Tri-State area, where he currently lives, to be with his immediate family, including his wife, Kelley Browne.
“Thanksgiving means it’s a great time to be around family,” Reynolds said via telephone. “It’s a great time to be around all the folks that raised you, influenced you and have an impact on your life.”
Reynolds is the youngest of eight children, and no one had as profound an impact on him as his mother and grandmother, Theresa Hoskins. The family didn’t have much money. In fact, the five Reynolds brothers slept in one bedroom and fought for the bed. But while Reynolds lived with his mother and grandmother, he never saw himself as poor. Lettie cleaned houses, did odd jobs, made sure her children ate and had a roof over their heads. Lettie always gave her kids words of encouragement. Theresa, on the other hand, was the enforcer. She laid down the rules and taught her grandchildren manners.
“Mom was the comforter, the nice one,” Reynolds said. “My grandmother was like ‘No, no, I don’t play that, honey.’”
For Lettie and Theresa, Thanksgiving was more of a religious day. It was a time for prayer. Dinner was served, but before they started eating, heads were bowed to thank the Lord. Theresa was the one who said Grace.
“I’ll never forget it: You have your head down and grandma was praying forever,” Harold remembered. “[I said to myself], ‘Come on, I smell the food. Let’s wrap this thing up.’ … She would be laying it down. It was about reflection. It was about appreciation and understanding [where we are].”
The family were not the only ones at the dinner table. The house was loaded with friends, too, sharing the turkey, stuffing and all the rest.
“We lived in a college town in [Corvallis,] Oregon,” Reynolds remembered. “We had [so many] people at our house for Thanksgiving during my lifetime. We carry that tradition to this day.
“Even my personal household is where the kids’ friends hang out every day after school. That’s the way we wanted it. That’s the way we built it. That’s what I grew up in. That’s what Thanksgiving was [all about].”
Reynolds is also thankful to have seven siblings. It’s clear in his voice how much he treasures the relationships with them. The siblings are so close that they have a weekly group chat to see how each one is doing.
Reynolds followed in two of his brothers’ footsteps. Larry Reynolds, now a player agent, played baseball at Stanford University, while Don Reynolds played two Major League seasons with the Padres in the late 1970s. Harold turned out to be a valuable second baseman, mostly with the Mariners. He was a two-time All-Star and won three Gold Gloves.
“It seemed like we always had everything and it was because of that closeness of family and looking out for each other,” Harold said. “You appreciate what you have every day.
“Growing up in Oregon, where there were three or four Black families in a town of 40,000 in the 1960s, my family was paving the way for me. As I get older, I appreciate it even more what they went through and what they did.”