SHE SINGS LIKE Aretha Franklin. She cooks like a Food Network chef and serves her famous fried chicken, collards and bread pudding to 600 homeless people each week, at the church where . . . she's the pastor. She played softball in college - pitcher, catcher and second base. Later, she owned and ran a soul food restaurant, Rose Mary's.
ON THE SURFACE, it seems there's nothing Domonic Brown's mom Rose Mary Woods can't do. Truth is, the single mom gave up Motown dreams to raise her baby boy, and, two years later, her baby girl. Today, daughter Rashawnda is a professional model. And that little boy - who was never that little - is the Phils' 6-foot-5 leftfielder.
The kids are grown, but Pastor Woods hasn't put her feet up. She recently opened Bibleway International Outreach in Brunswick, Ga., often looks after Dom's son Dion (he and girlfriend Stephanie Gayle are expecting a daughter in July), and still makes her son pound cake every time he comes home.
What's the secret to this supermom's success? Woods took a breath to talk to Lauren McCutcheon, just in time for Mother's Day.
Q So, you're the source of your son's gift for baseball?
I played softball at Saint Leo [University], near Dade City, Fla. 'D' was a 10-pound baby - big all around. When he was 3, he was taller than the 5-year-olds on his baseball team. As he grew, I used to pitch to him - and to catch him. I got a lot of broken fingernails that way.
Q Describe the life of a baseball mom.
I never missed a game of Domonic's, and not that many practices, either.
When he turned 12, he moved up to a different division, where most of the coaches' kids are playing on the teams. These kids, they had batting training, seminars. 'D' didn't, and they benched him.
So, I brought him to Lakewood, Fla., 45 minutes away. The coaches there said he was playing at a 14- or 15-year-old level. After we finished AAU that year, he was throwing 78 mph sliders.
Q How does it feel, watching him in the majors?
I'm always proud of him. He had to work hard to get where he's at . . . Every time I see him play, I have to cry a little, because he's still my little boy.
Q Any times you don't like to watch?
The worst thing is to see him sliding. I see the person getting ready to catch the ball, and, you never know: Anything can happen.
When he played football, football was too much . . . One time, his junior year of high school, he was jumping up very high for the ball, and two players jumped up around him like a sandwich. That was his last game. I was like, "Domonic: No."
Q What advice do you have for other parents?
Don't give up. Don't give up. Times are gonna be good. Times are gonna be bad. Just know that God has your best interest, and he's not gonna let you down.
It wasn't easy, raising two kids by yourself, getting up every morning, cooking, getting them ready, going directly to Rose Mary's, cooking more, coming home at 9, 10 o'clock, ironing clothes, getting prepared for the next day.
As long as you try, as long as you keep trying, you're gonna be successful.
Q How will you celebrate Mother's Day?
At church, we'll give a rose and chocolates to every mother. Friday or Saturday, my daughter will come home, and other young people I've helped raise will, too, for a big family meal. Then we might bowl or go to a skating rink. We just have fun.
Q How is grandmother-hood?
I love my grandchild, Dion. He's 15 months, and he's gorgeous. He looks like a doll. People come up to me and say, "Wow." He really is very handsome.
Q You wouldn't be biased, would you?