For Jacksonville, Florida mother of six Jenny Reimold, the alarm clock announces the beginning of every new day at 5:15. She takes some time to prepare herself for the day spent shuttling Grace, Jack, Emma, Mary Clare, Maggie, and Charlotte around in her 12-passenger van. Then, it’s off to school, baseball, cheerleading, and gymnastics with the marathon day typically coming to a close after the clock strikes ten o’clock. If that sounds like a typical day for a mother of six, it is. Having a large family creates a busy life. Having a husband who plays professional baseball creates a busier life.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, Jenny Reimold is the wife of Baltimore Orioles’ outfielder Nolan Reimold.
“We had to break down and buy the 12-passenger van,” Jenny explained. “At first, Nolan was really against it [the van], but now he says he will not drive it, but he will ride in it. It is really odd for us pulling into a player parking lot full of Mercedes and sports cars when you’re driving a mini bus full of kids.”
Every four to six weeks, Jenny points her van north to Baltimore, but with six kids, and three in school, it has become increasingly difficult to make the long journey to watch dad do his job at Camden Yards.
“It’s difficult on all of us. My girls want to see their dad. Nolan misses out on the first day of school, ballet recitals, and all those things a dad would want to see. We’re all looking forward to him coming home.”
The Reimolds added to their family this July, and Nolan was able to make the trip home to be with his wife and family for Charlotte’s birth, but only three days later, it was back to work. Pregnancies are a challenging time, but the challenges become even greater when dad’s job takes him away from home for eight straight months.
“It’s really tough physically when he is gone. He left in February, and I couldn’t travel after seven months. Towards the end of pregnancy, you’re tired, your body hurts, and you’ve got the rest of the children that need to be taken care of. I try to keep everything in perspective though. We live in a military town so we know many friends who are deployed for over a year and don’t get to see their families at all. We are fortunate that we can visit when we can get to Nolan.”
Athletes have taken a bad rap for leaving their teams to attend the birth of a child, a fact that is incomprehensible to Jenny Reimold.
“I think what people tend to forget is that pregnancies come with no guarantees. For me, I was at a high risk. I had five previous C-sections, and we also had a stillborn daughter, so another one came with high risk. In terms of a family unit, being together for those moments matters, not just for the joy of them, but what if something catastrophic had happened? For us, it’s important to be together as much as possible. It’s important for the husband to be there for as much of the process as possible.”
The Reimolds were lucky this summer when Charlotte was born. The Orioles had an off day, and Nolan was able to steal an extra day at home with his family. Nolan and Jenny were not so lucky for Mary Clare’s birth. Baby number four came in the middle of Spring Training, and dad was forced to run back to prepare for the season immediately after dropping mom off at home.
Placing restraints on a player’s time with family dehumanizes them. Players are more than a big paycheck or a pawn on a playing field. They do play the game for the entertainment of the paying customers, but at the end of the day, their humanity remains intact. Taking three days away from work is not the end of the world.
Being a father takes a back seat for some players, but not for Nolan Reimold. When he is home with his family, he is fully invested in being a dad. To his children, that’s all he is. That he is a Major League baseball player is not lost on them, but it is the only life they’ve ever known. His stepson is more interested in meeting Big Papi, and his daughters are more interested in finding the Oriole bird.
“Nolan is very reserved and very humble. He is a private guy who doesn’t seek attention. Being a dad really does come first for Nolan when he’s done with the baseball season,” Jenny said. “Besides being a baseball player, he really is an All-American dad. He’s running to ballet class and gymnastics practice just like the rest of the dads out there.”
For Nolan, being a dad means jumping in feet first when the end of the season rolls around. He relishes the opportunity to go all out with the Christmas lights display, synced to music, of course. One Christmas tree isn’t good enough when you can have three. He does not have a man cave, opting for an arts and crafts room. He shares his personal gym with a Barbie Jeep and Frozen tricycle.
“He comes home, and he’s straight into dad mode. Nolan is a home body, and he likes to be at home with us because he misses so much time with us. He built a gym in our garage, and that is where he works out. We kid that Nolan has this great job and wonderful career and all he got was a corner of the garage. He had high hopes for having a man cave, but Nolan’s man cave is filled with Barbies and Barbie houses, not framed jerseys.”
Even at 6’4″ and 212 pounds, Reimold has had his nails painted. He’s learned the words to every song from Frozen. “He is a great dad of girls,” his wife explained. “He really relishes in that role. We own all the princess dresses and wear them proudly to Disney World. I think he’s a little fearful of what that means when they go to high school, but for now, he loves it.”
Nolan’s career has not been easy and not without some major bumps in the road. That adversity has affected him and Jenny on many levels, but he has always had his family to fall back on.
“The hardest part for me,” Jenny said, “has been watching Nolan fight back from these injuries. After the first surgery, I watched him train everyday to regain his strength. It’s very tough to watch someone you love grind everyday at home in the hopes of coming back. When the second surgery happened, it was the biggest blow because we had just lost our daughter and we thought he had recovered. There were more low points than high points, and we were just wondering when he would get a break.”
“It’s so hard to watch someone who is such a great father go through what Nolan has had to go through. Emotionally, it was tough on him. It is so hard to watch the person you love doubt themselves and doubt what is going to happen to their life. It’s been a long road, and a tough road.”
The Reimolds have always trusted Nolan’s path. He fought hard to return to Baltimore for this season after a 2014 spent in Exodus with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Toronto Blue Jays. Nolan is comfortable with the Orioles organization and wanted to return there even though there was no guarantee that the team would have a place for him on their roster. Being away from the only organization he had ever known was difficult for Reimold last year, and placed extra stress on his family. Baltimore is the place where Nolan has always felt at home. Even after a strong Spring Training, Reimold was ticketed for Triple-A.
The Reimolds ultimately had their faith rewarded. Nolan has finally reestablished himself as a consistent presence in the Orioles lineup in September. Given regular at-bats, he has begun living up to the expectations that have followed him since 2009, posting a .300 batting average in 11 games.
For this humble father of six, things are coming back into focus at the Major League level. His focus, however, has always been on something more important.
“I do not think Nolan really defines himself as a professional athlete,” Jenny concluded. “His daily life is the camera, lights, and the loudspeakers, and the fans, but his favorite place to be is home with his family.”