When the San Francisco Giants' Pablo Sandoval put on a hitting display for the ages Wednesday night in the first game of the World Series, Donna and Ed Musgrave couldn't believe what they were witnessing as they sat on the couch of their San Jose home.

They already knew Sandoval was capable of amazing things. The Musgraves were Sandoval's host family back when he played for the Class A San Jose Giants, and they have come to think of him as an adopted son.

But three home runs?

"The first one, I was thinking, 'Good for Pablo,'" Donna said. "Then he hit the second one and I thought, 'Oh, my god! What's going on here?' But when he hit the third one, well, I can't repeat what I said. Let me put it this way: You couldn't print it."

Then their phone started ringing off the hook as friends and family wanted to know what they thought about Sandoval, whose home-run barrage tied a Series record in the Giants' 8-3 victory over Detroit in Game 1.

"I was telling them, 'Just let me finish watching the rest of the game! It's not over yet!'" said Donna, 70. "But that man is something else, isn't he? He's unbelievable."

Actually, the Musgraves have been saying that ever since Sandoval lived with them during the 2006 and 2007 seasons. The San Jose Giants have a network of local families who host young players as a way to cut down on costs for minor-leaguers who don't make much money. The Musgraves have become the Giants' go-to family for hosting international players like Sandoval, who is from Venezuela.


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Sandoval is so close to them he still refers to the Musgraves as Mommy and Poppy and has credited them with helping his transition into a new language and culture.

"They were very special to me," Sandoval said in a 2009 interview. "They always seem to have fun, so I wanted to be part of it. They would act like real parents. Sometimes they would scold me if I wasn't doing something right."

In his pre-Panda days, Sandoval was just a shy, homesick kid in a strange land. He also was a raw baseball talent.

When Ed, now 76, would drop him off at the ballpark each day -- Sandoval didn't have a car -- he always would advise him: "Patience, Pablo, patience." That's because Sandoval would swing at virtually every pitch thrown to him.

"He would take a whack at anything coming down the track," Donna joked.

Sandoval is still a free-swinger. But Wednesday night he showed what happens when he makes contact. For the game, he batted 4-for-4 with 4 RBI.

Host families get free tickets to San Jose Giants games. But what the Musgraves, retired telephone company workers with two daughters of their own, really like is the bond they form with players like Sandoval and Sergio Romo, the Giants star reliever. Romo, who grew up in the California city of Brawley, is one of the rare American players who have lived with the Musgraves.

"He's such a fun guy to be around," Donna said of Romo. "The guy you see on the mound? That's him all the time. He's genuinely a nice person who likes people. We're so happy for him."

When outfielder Francisco Peguero, a Dominican Republic native who also stayed with them made his major-league debut with the Giants this season, the Musgraves attended a game in San Francisco to visit with him.

They also saw Sandoval, who gave Donna a glove he had worn on Mother's Day.

But it was a difficult reunion for Donna, who has needed two surgeries in a battle bladder cancer and wasn't well that day.

"I felt bad for Pablo because he gave me the mitt and was excited, but I was just so tired and wanted to go home and lie down," Donna said. "I'm still fighting it, but the doctors think it's looking very good. God has been very good to me."

And she was feeling great Wednesday as she cheered on Sandoval.

"It's amazing that Pablo and Sergio both are going to get their second World Series rings," Donna said. "Because you know they're going to win, right?"

Contact Mark Emmons at 408-920-5745.