Dallas Latos on the myths and challenges of being a Red’s wife.
The wives, girlfriends and life partners of professional athletes enjoy a more-than-comfortable income, travel opportunities and access to fame if they want it. But the perks come with their own dark sides. Like, for instance, finding out you’re moving from sunny San Diego to Cincinnati when the news is reported on ESPN.
Enter Dallas Latos.
The 25-year-old wife of new Reds pitcher Mat Latos, Dallas might seem like a force to be reckoned with. Not content to cheer quietly from the sidelines, she uses her social media clout to remind the masses that she is, in fact, a person beyond “Mat’s wife.”
If you follow her on Twitter (@DallasLatos), she may seem a little intimidating, but in person, she’s just like the rest of us: sipping afternoon drinks at the Holy Grail at The Banks, receiving extremely attentive service from the wait staff, watching her true love throw baseballs on national TV.
OK, maybe not exactly like the rest of us. But Dallas wants you to know that being a “baseball wife” isn’t always what it seems.
Myth #1: All Pro Athletes Are Hard-Partying, Philandering High-Rollers.
Born and raised in Northern California, Dallas had a specific plan for her post-college life: work hard and enjoy being single without the pressures of dating. A friend whose boyfriend played with Mat in the minor leagues kept suggesting Dallas and Mat would really hit it off, but Dallas wanted nothing to do with him at first.
“It annoys me that people have stereotypes about relationships in baseball, but I had the same mindset,” she says. “You see other people’s issues in their marriages or how the single [baseball player] guys act.” In her mind, baseball players were, well, players. She wasn’t interested in the drama of being cheated on or eventually becoming a bitter ex-wife.
Finally, sick of being a third wheel on her friend’s dates, Dallas decided to give Mat a shot. To her surprise, he was nothing like what she expected. He was looking for a woman who would like him for who he was, not for his profession. “For him it was like, ‘Why would I want to keep dating random girls? I’ve been single [while] playing baseball. There’s nothing fun about it,’” Dallas says.
The next season, Mat joined the San Diego Padres and asked Dallas to move with him during spring training. “I thought, ‘Sink or swim, either I want to be with this guy or it won’t work out.’ Everything just kind of went from there.”
Dallas and Mat hadn’t been dating long and were still fairly young when they got married — a decision that shocked her family. “My dad was like, ‘What are you doing?!’” Dallas says. Ah, overprotective fathers: a fact of life almost all of us can relate to.
MYTH #2: It’s Fun To Pack Up Your Life And Move Across The Country On Short Notice.
“If you’re married to a baseball player, MLB trade rumors may be your secret lover,” Dallas wrote in her blog last winter. “If you’re anything like me, you spent the offseason wanting to know what your lover was up to. You checked and you checked, you refreshed and you refreshed.
Nobody thought Mat was going anywhere in 2012 after two successful seasons with the Padres, so Dallas was shocked when, one Saturday morning, she awoke to a slew of text messages and voicemails from family members demanding to know more about the fact that the Reds had just given up four players to the Padres in exchange for Mat.
“I think I’m just now destressing from it,” she says with a laugh during our interview, almost six months later.
Although Mat and Dallas welcomed the change with open arms, there’s no doubt that becoming a Midwesterner after a lifetime as a California girl is a bit of a culture shock. “We’re literally having to start all over again,” she says. “[But] one of my favorite things about Cincinnati is the people. Everybody’s pretty much offered to help. The Reds’ front office, people at local businesses … it’s not something I experienced in San Diego. Knowing that everyone’s so willing to be supportive is a good thing.”
MYTH #3: More Money, Fewer Problems.
Dallas tries to downplay her financial situation as much as possible, insisting that she and Mat “are pretty simple people.” However, it’s hard to ignore the fact that Mat’s making a larger salary in his twenties — $550,000 this season — than many of us ever will. It does come with a caveat, though. “It’s like they say, mo’ money, mo’ problems,” Dallas says. “He could get injured and his career could end tomorrow. That’s what people don’t understand, the additional stress. It’s not a cakewalk. Day to day, you never know what’s going to happen.”
Furthermore, Dallas had to give up her career and entrepreneurial ambitions in order to live the MLB life, at least for now — and despite the obvious advantages of not having to work, it still wasn’t an easy decision.
“I was successful in what I was doing, but I have to put that on hold,” she says. “It took me awhile to be at peace with that. It made me feel sort of bad about myself … [But] I’m trying to be as supportive of him as possible. Baseball is a career that expires; he’s not going to be doing this for the rest of his life.”
One advantage of giving up the nine-to-five life is having more time to volunteer. Last spring, for example, Dallas and other MLB wives helped organize a donation drive for Alabama tornado victims; she’s currently seeking out ways to give back here in Cincinnati. “It’s nice to have the freedom to help others out,” she says.
MYTH #4: When You’re Married To A Baseball Player, Having Your Own Life And Personality Are Unnecessary.
“I think a lot of baseball wives feel like once you’re married, you don’t have your identity. I decided I’m not going to fall into that trap,” Dallas says about her MLBlogs.com blog and Twitter feed, which she uses as avenues for personal expression and to give fans a glimpse into life with the Reds.
“People have a vision of what your life is and it’s so far from the truth,” she says. “The Real Housewives — nobody does that. It’s the most unrealistic depiction of anyone’s baseball life that I’ve ever seen. It’s hard for children and families. You see [wives] doing all the stuff on their own that normally you’d have more support from your spouse from … Blogging is an opportunity to write my own story.”
Indeed, the blog’s content isn’t what you might expect. Dallas writes about trips to Newport Aquarium, Mat’s favorite Crock-Pot recipe and her obsession with impractical shoes. And on Twitter, she interacts with polite and supportive fans — and tries to ignore the others.
“Everyone has an opinion,” she says of the people who tweet rude comments to her when Mat pitches poorly, or for no reason in particular. “I used to get upset, but now it just rolls off my shoulders. Being in the public eye, you really can’t take any of that in.” She could stay off social media completely — and in fact, Dallas suspended her Twitter account temporarily back in June, sick of dealing with the haters.
But the advantage of staying in the digital fray, as Dallas and many other public figures have found, is that they get to have more control over their own PR. “Before [social media], all you knew was what was in tabloids,” she says. “Now everyone has their own voice. It took some control away from people who want to start rumors.”
And it’s paying off, because both online and in person, Dallas seems very approachable and down to earth. And the things she wants are not so different from what the rest of us want.
“I value quality time with my husband,” Dallas says. “I tell him, ‘I wish you could be a fisherman and we could live on an island in Greece and have no responsibilities.’” They’re looking for the next best thing — a house in Florida to retreat to during the offseason — and hoping Mat will be offered a permanent contract soon, so they can start feeling more settled about their uprooted lives.
But for now, Dallas seems happy to be in Cincinnati. “For the most part, fans have been really welcoming,” she says. “I’m kind of enjoying it because it’s so much more slow-paced [than California]. It’s just different.”