Ketel Marte points to the sky after a hit.
Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Ketel Marte's Mom's Tragic Death Fueled His Stardom

Ketel Marte is in the middle of an MLB postseason record 20-game hit streak, and with every hit he honors hit late mother.

Ketel Marte is a master of versatility. Shortstop, center fielder, second baseman all at the same time? Maybe not all that, but his flexibility has proved to be an invaluable tool for his teams. The Arizona Diamondbacks arguably wouldn't have reached the 2023 World Series without his incredible play against the Philadelphia Phillies, earning Marte the 2023 NLCS MVP award.

It was well deserved. And Marte knew exactly what to do with it.

First and foremost, Marte dedicated his award to his mom. Tragically, she could not be there to see it.

The Death of Ketel Marte's Mom, Elpidia Valdez

Ketel Marte looks on during a World Series game.

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Marte was placed on the bereavement list in late July 2017 following the tragic death of his mother from a car accident in his native Dominican Republic.

The day after learning the news, Marte left for home to lay his mother to rest. It was a trying time for Marte, his wife and their four children, as family is immensely important to them. Her premature death has left an indelible mark on Marte's life, forever changing his outlook and approach to everything.

His team was behind him, though. Several members of the Diamondbacks front office, who acquired Marte from the Seattle Mariners in 2016, flew to the Dominican Republic to be at Valdez's funeral. One of those was general manager Mike Hazen, who would lose his wife to brain cancer in 2022.

After every hit, Marte will point to the sky as his mother looks down on him. And on his left arm is a tattoo of her image, as she's forever with him.

Ultimately, her passing brought Marte closer to his dreams; so when those dreams recently culminated in a NLCS Most Valuable Player Award, Marte was sure to give credit where credit was due. He dedicated it to his late mother. 

For Marte, baseball is in his blood. The 2018 MLB triples leader is the nephew of former professional infielder Wilson Valdez; and Marte's wife, Elisa Guerrero, is the cousin of Vladimir Guerrero Jr.  

Marte began his career after signing with the Mariners as an international free agent but was traded to Arizona after two seasons. Marte built his career in the desert, earning his first and only All-Star appearance in 2019. He's one of just two players left from the 2017 Diamondbacks team that made the playoffs six years ago.

Now, the NLCS MVP has a chance to etch his name alongside names such as Randy Johnson, who helped deliver a World Series over the New York Yankees in 2001. That is, of course, if they can overcome a 3-1 deficit against the Texas Rangers. But Marte has already made MLB history, as he's in the middle of a record 20-game postseason hit streakone that began in the 2017 playoffs, the same season his mother died. 

Playing his best on baseball's brightest stage, Marte will never forget his upbringing in Nizao, a town in the Peravia Province of the Dominican Republic. Surely, if he can pull off a World Series win — or even another MVP — he will have his mother to thank, and rightfully so.

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