Pat Neshek’s road back to Minnesota

Pat Neshek celebrates after the Twins clinched the American League Central division in 2010. AP file photo/Jim Dietz.
The Star Tribune’s Phil Miller provides the must-read story of the day (so far) with his profile of Pat Neshek , the Brooklyn Park native who makes his first-ever appearance in the All Star game this week.

Neshek had to beg for a minor league contract this year, just a few years after the Twins gave him away for nothing. Nice story. But it’s not the story.

Neshek and his wife, Stephanie, lost their son just a few days after he was born in 2012.

She had just given him a bath, and was rocking him in her arms while visiting with friends, when his heart stopped. He lived just 23 hours, seemingly normal and healthy. “I’m glad I was with him, at least,” Stephanee said. “That he wasn’t alone in the nursery bassinet.”

Doctors suspect he died of an infection they thought had been treated, but they don’t know for sure. It was impossible to comprehend, let alone explain.

“It still seems like it’s not real, like it happened to someone else,” Neshek said.

Their second child was born in the spring, and there was a problem. He was born with pneumonia.

When Stephanee was handed Hoyt for the first time, tubes and monitors attached to his body, “my brain started playing tricks on me. I felt like I was holding Gehrig again, and I just lost it,” she said. “I started screaming and crying, until the nurse had to take him.”

But in three days Hoyt was out of danger. He turned 4 months old on Sunday, and he’s already over 20 pounds.

“It was pretty scary, and I was worried for Stephanee,” Neshek said. “If something had happened, I would have shut it down. I wouldn’t be playing baseball.”

Neshek has become the most reliable setup man in baseball, according to Miller. That and being on the All Star team doesn’t come close to erasing even a hint of pain and loss. Not a bit, of course.

But it’s at least heartwarming to see good things happening to someone worth rooting for. On the baseball diamond, too.

Related: Eight years later. A newspaper reporter loses his wife, and almost everything else.