KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- When Ben Zobrist rolled into town to join the Kansas City Royals in July, he didn't come alone.
As in previous stints with the Tampa Bay Rays and most recently the Oakland A's, Zobrist was bringing Team Zobrist: his wife Julianna and their two children, six-year-old Zion and four-year-old Kruse.
"It was so nice for us to come back to like a neighborhood, and kids knocking on our door and wanting to play ball outside," said Julianna. "That was so fun."
But Julianna is more than "Mrs. Ben Zobrist, player wife." She has her own successful career in Christian music. Her third album, "The Dawn" is being released now, one song at a time. And when Ben's on the road, she tries to schedule concerts, if possible, in those same road cities. But her ball-playing husband admits she's sacrificed a lot to follow the vagabond life of baseball:
"She could have signed with a label, she could be on tour right now," the Royals' utility player said.
Julianna says the sacrifice is well worth it to keep Team Zobrist together. The pair met during high school, both children of pastors, and both committed to their chosen fields. In fact Julianna wasn't ready for a boyfriend when Ben first came calling. But he persisted, and eventually they fell in love and married.
"I really believe that God brought us together," the newest Royals says about their partnership.
But as storybook as it seems, the pair have had their own struggles: she was sexually abused at the age of 12 at a camp. Ben struggled with anxiety and depression when his baseball career seemed over in Tampa. Struggles they overcame and speak openly about in their book: "Double Play: Faith and Family First,." published in 2014.
And struggles they shared with us, because as Julianna notes, using a musical metaphor shared by her dad: "To make a beautiful masterpiece....you have to use the black keys. Life will always hand you black keys."
Now safe at home in Kansas City and ready for a postseason run, the Zobrists take one day at a time. They hope they can stay in KC. Ben will be a free agent in offseason. But first they have baseball, then baby number three coming in November.
Hopefully after a second World Series crown for the Royals.
"Win the World Series on the 4th (November), have a baby three days later," Julianna laughs. "Probably in the car on the way home!"