STOCKTON — Gregorio Petit was one of the first Minor League Baseball players taken in from host family Denise and Jerry Soria.
Petit and Luis Perez were farmhands of the Oakland Athletics back then. In 2005, the MLB parent club relocated its Class-A affiliate from Modesto to Stockton's new Banner Island Ballpark.
Jerry saw on local news that host families in the area were needed to accommodate these new members of the Stockton Ports during the inaugural year.
"We decided to do it," he recalled.
Since then, the Sorias have taken in over 40 players from the Ports, with many coming in from the Dominican Republic along with Mexico, Venezuela, Puerto Rico and Cuba.
"They've become family," Jerry Soria said.
That family was put on hold for this year Tuesday due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
For the first time since 1977, Stockton will be without professional baseball.
"We are disappointed that we will not be able to provide our fans and the Stockton community with quality baseball and family-friendly entertainment," said Ports President Pat Filipponne.
According to Minor League Baseball President and CEO Pat O'Connor, this marks the first time in history of a summer without America's pastime.
"While this is a sad day for many, this announcement removes the uncertainty surrounding the 2020 season and allows our teams to begin planning (for next year)," he said.
Jerry and Denise, in recent years, called it quits after over 50 years of marriage. However, they continue to host their share of players.
Robert Mullen, who was the starting catcher for the Ports last year, stayed at Jerry's house during his stay in Stockton.
Just like family, they shared meals and hung out in town when not at the ballpark.
When Jerry and Denise took in Petit and Perez that first year, they did their share of family road trips. "We took them to Santa Cruz and other places," Jerry said.
Petit made his MLB debut with the A's in 2008 before being traded to the Houston Astros. The infielder from Venezuela also had stints with the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Angels and Minnesota Twins.
He was one of the three of the Sorias' former players making it to the Show. Anthony Recker, a catcher and first baseman, played for the A's, Chicago Cubs, NY Mets and Atlanta Braves.
Franklin Barreto was up and down with Oakland during the past two years.
Jerry and Denise occasionally hear from many of their former players.
After all, they're family.