The only place Livan Hernandez's mother got to see him pitch was the bullpen.
Still, she arrived from Cuba on Sunday evening in time to see her son win - the World Series, the MVP trophy and the adulation of fans all over."It's the happiest day of my life," the 22-year-old pitcher said after the Florida Marlins beat the Cleveland Indians 3-2 in 11 innings of Game 7. "My mother's here and we're champions."
Hernandez, in the Marlins' rotation in October only because of Alex Fernandez's torn rotator cuff, went 2-0 against Cleveland and became just the second rookie to be MVP of the Series.
Hernandez also was MVP of the NL championship series, having gone 2-0 against Atlanta with an NLCS-record 15 strikeouts in one of the wins.
"When I was younger, I couldn't have dreamed about this," he said. "I never thought I'd be here."
Two years ago, he defected from his homeland, sneaking on a flight from Mexico to Venezuela to escape Cuban baseball authorities. He left behind his family, and was not sure until Sunday that he would really see his mom at Pro Player Stadium.
"They told me this afternoon, but it was a surprise for me," Hernandez said in Spanish during the victory celebration.
Following weeks of negotiations, the Cuban government permitted Miriam Carreras to travel to the United States to see her son.
Her plane landed at Miami International Airport less than two hours before Game 7 began. She arrived at the ballpark in a white stretch limousine and visited with him for 30 minutes inside Marlins president Don Smiley's suite.
"We hugged. We cried," Hernandez said.
Hernandez said he did not know how long his mother would remain in the country.
"I am very happy to be here with my son and to see this last game," she said in a statement released by the team.