MIDLAND- The Texas League baseball season is a long one, starting in April and ending in September. That means months away from family and friends for players.
When most people think of the Midland Rockhounds, they think of them on the field. When they go home many players stay with host families.
A host family is a term used for local families who take in players during the season. It's a popular option for minor leaguers for financial and personal reasons and it's something that Mike Daniel and his wife Donna have been doing for years.
"This is our 4th season being a host family, and we started back when the economy was really doing well and these guys did not have a place to live," said RockHounds Host Parent Mike Daniel. "So they were asking people to find residencies, so we thought what the heck, lets do this, lets try it."
What happened in those four years is Mike and Donna have given a number of players a home away from home. It's something that this years house guests, Pitcher Ryan Doolittle and Catcher Beau Taylor appreciate.
"We talked about it last night, about calling them mom and dad now. It's my third year with them but it's like I said, it feels like home," RockHounds Pitcher Ryan Doolittle said. "It's very comfortable, its open, whatever you need, they're there for you and they're here to support you."
"I felt welcome right away, as soon as I got there they showed me around the house, beautiful house and it just feels like a family," RockHounds Catcher Beau Taylor said."
The family has grown each season with some big names coming through the door, including Major Leaguer Ryan Dull and the late Sean Murphy.
"They're family to us, and we realized that even more last week," Daniel said. "We've got their backs and they're fun, they're just a fun group of men to be around and we really enjoy doing it. We'll do it again."
As summer turns to fall, that bond continues through the off-season and beyond.
"Once the season's done, like holiday's and everything, we always text each other, make sure everything's going good," Taylor said.
The experience also had one more benefit for the Daniel family
"It's just my wife and I Donna, and it's fun to have young people around to converse with them and it kind of keeps us young also," Daniel said.