Jesse grew up promising his parents that someday he would pitch in the big leagues and buy them a new house. "A lot of times my husband said, 'My son is going to make it, I know he's going to make it,' " recalls Tomasa. "He used to get very excited when he saw Jesse pitch on television. The last time he saw him pitch, I think, was the Saturday before he died. At the funeral Jesse told me, 'Mom, Dad got me this far, and I'm going to work harder for him and you.' But I didn't know he was going to work this hard."
The turning point came in a game against the Cardinals last Sept. 10. The Mets had a 2-0 lead in the ninth inning and Orosco gave up a lead-off homer to Hernandez. George Hendrick was on deck, and Bamberger walked to the mound. "I thought he was going to take me out," recalls Orosco, "but he told me, 'Kid, this is your game to win or lose.' I thought, 'if he believes in you, why can't you believe in yourself?' "
Orosco retired the side, and from that point on he has been the best reliever in the National League. "He came into my office after that Cardinals game and thanked me for staying with him," Bamberger recently recalled. "He's just a helluva humble kid. And now he's got to be the top lefthanded reliever in the league; maybe in either league. He could be one of the greatest ever."
As far as Tomasa Orosco is concerned, the same holds true for Bamberger. "Jesse liked Mr. Bambi very much," she says. "I didn't see him to thank him before he left, but I would like to. Mr. Bambi did a marvelous job with my son."