Cain was born in Valdosta, Georgia, but grew up just across the Florida state line in Madison County, about four hours from Atlanta. "My Dad passed away when I was 4, so my Mom pretty much raised me and my brother, so it was just us three growing up," he said. "She was a single mom, she worked two jobs at times so that's probably the main reason I didn't play sports. She didn't have really time to take me to practice or whatnot."
He and brother Delvin, who is six years older, had their chores to help out Patricia Cain. "Somebody had to keep the house clean, so that was me and my brother's job," he said.
When Cain got to the ninth grade, he tried out for the basketball team and got cut. His Mom thought football was too rough. "She wouldn't let me play football, so what was left? Baseball," he said.
Lorenzo is a big Dallas Cowboys fan. He wanted to play high school football. His mom, Patricia, wouldn't let him because she didn't want him to get hurt.
Growing up, Cain had never played baseball. But after getting cut from the basketball team and being barred from football by his concerned mother, Patricia, Lorenzo (then a sophomore) asked a friend who played baseball, Jeremy Hayes, "Do you think I could make the team?" Hayes took him to the office of the coach to find out.
"Have you ever played?" the coach asked.
"No," Cain said.
"Perfect. We have only eight guys on the JV team. We'll stick you on JV."
He did not own a bat or a glove. The first two weeks, he played third base, booting two or three balls a game, before he was stashed safely in the outfield.
High School: Jeremy Haynes, a friend who later pitched in the Braves' system, told Cain during his sophomore year that he might be able to make the baseball team—by default, as Madison's junior varsity squad had just eight players as the 2002 season neared, putting coach Barney Myers in danger of forfeiting the season. Myers described Cain as "skinny, gangly, and goofy," but no matter, the season would be saved. Cain picked out leftover equipment from the fieldhouse, catching the first fly ball hit to him, then revealing that the plastic glove he'd chosen was on his throwing hand.
"I don't even think he had seen a baseball game," Myers said, "much less played in one."
The rules were foggy and Cain was extremely raw—a righthanded hitter, he even had to be instructed how to hold the bat correctly, with his right hand over the left. But there were indications of promise, as well as a devoted work ethic. He'd often trade his books for a bat during lunch period, taking 100 hacks at the school pitching machine.
"I was determined to never sit on the bench," Cain said. "That was the thing about me, I just couldn't settle with sitting on the bench."
Lorenzo didn't play baseball until he was in 10th grade in high school. He came out of nowhere, and the Brewers made him their 17th-round pick as a draft-and-follow in 2004, signing him just before the 2005 draft, via scout Doug Reynolds.
What was Cain doing with his time before playing baseball at Madison County High School?
"Going home every day," he said. "I just never got into it. It was just never my thing."
And why did he finally decide to play baseball?
"I just got tired of going home every day," he explained.
That decision, based in part on the boredom of an idle teenager who was cut from the basketball team, ended up paying big dividends.
Though painfully thin as a prep player and raw in all facets of the game, Cain showed enough to gain the attention of Brewers area scout Doug Reynolds. Based on his recommendation, Milwaukee selected Cain in the 17th round of the 2004 draft.
"He came to a workout I held and hit a couple of drives over the scoreboard," recalled Reynolds. "I didn't even know who he was. It was the summer before his senior season and I said, 'How can you be a senior and I've never seen you?' He really hadn't played much.
"He was still very crude, very raw. He'd jump around in the batter's box. But when he hit it, he hit it hard. He was an exciting player, even though you had to dream a little."
Lorenzo knew he wasn't ready to turn pro and opted instead to attend Tallahassee Community College in Florida. The Brewers continued to monitor Cain's progress, and using the now defunct draft-and-follow process, signed him before the 2005 draft.
Toward the end of his senior year, Cain was playing video games at home when his mother told him he had a telephone call.
"Hello?" Cain said.
"Hello, this is Doug Reynolds of the Milwaukee Brewers. We just selected you in the 17th round of the draft."
"Oh, thank you," Cain said and promptly hung up the phone as if it were a solicitor.
"Who was that?" his mother asked.
"Somebody with the Brewers. He said they drafted me in the 17th round."Says Cain, "I just went back and played video games. I didn't tell anybody. I think a few days later there was something in the newspaper. That's when I thought, I guess it's a big deal, because I didn't know the draft was a big deal. I didn't keep up with baseball. I didn't know anything about baseball."
Cain eventually told the Brewers he wasn't ready for pro ball yet. He played one season at Tallahassee Community College and then signed for $95,000. (SI, June 1, 2015)
In 2005, Cain was the Arizona Rookie League MVP after he led the loop in runs, hits, doubles, extra-base hits, and slugging percentage while finishing second in the batting race.
In 2006, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook had Lorenzo rated as 27th-best prospect in the Brewers organization. But during the winter before 2007 spring training, they moved Cain all the way up to #6 in the Milwaukee farm system. In the spring of 2008, they had Cain at 9th-best in the Brewer organization. In the spring of 2009, they had Lorenzo back up at 6th-best in the Brewers' farm system.
And they had him at #8 in 2010.
- Cain is very coachable and quick to apply instruction. He is very dedicated to the game. He is a special player who can do a lot of things, and he works very hard.
Lorenzo has a big desire to play in the big leagues for a long time. (Spring 2009)
August 21, 2006: Lorenzo set a new record for the West Virginia Power with his 151st hit of the season. Bobby Perna had the old record of 150, which he set in 1992. Cain went on to lead the South Atlantic League in hits (162) and finished third in the batting race (.307).
On May 14, 2011, Cain hit for the cycle in Triple-A Omaha's 16-11 victory at Colorado Springs. He began with a grand slam in the first inning, doubled to lead off the third, singled in the fourth, and tripled in the sixth. It netted him seven RBIs.
When you think of Lorenzo, you think of his smile. You envision him laughing, joking and just generally in great spirits. As one teammate said of him recently, "Lo has it all figured out." But even Cain has his moments of frustration, and yes, even anger. "I get mad," Cain insists. Really? Like when?
"Well, I would say last year I got mad," he said. "I would say it started one game in Detroit. I can't remember which one, but it was in September. I was fired up. I was sick and tired of Detroit just always beating up on us. It was a turning point for me," he said. "From that game on until the end of playoffs, I played angry.
"I normally don't play like that. But I was upset. And I wanted to play angry the rest of the year." Playing angry, as it turns out, suited Cain. He hit .358 with a .394 on-base percentage for the rest of the regular season. And in the playoffs, Cain was sensational, winning the MVP in the ALCS against the Orioles. (Flanagan - mlb.com - 3/18/15)
Years ago during Spring Training, Cain met Torii Hunter through former Brewers teammate LaTroy Hawkins at a Globetrotters exhibition in Phoenix. Lorenzo felt as if he already knew Torii, having spent so much time studying his every movement.
"He was the guy I always watched when I was in high school and college," Cain said. "I wanted to model my game after him. I loved the way he played defense, swung the bat, everything. He molded me as a player.
"He's always been great to me. He's the kind of guy you feel comfortable around. He likes to have fun, but he's serious about the game. That's how I like to be. I have a good time with my teammates, and I think they're comfortable around me." (Spencer - mlb.com - 4/10/2015)
April 23, 2015: What started as an exchange of hit batsman, ended with the ejection of several players following a heated benches-clearing incident. After a benches-clearing fracas in Chicago with the White Sox, Major League Baseball disciplined players from both teams, though the Royals clearly received the harsher sentences.
Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura received a seven-game suspension, while teammates Edinson Volquez (five games), Lorenzo Cain (two games), and Kelvin Herrera (two games) also were disciplined. All four also received undisclosed fines. (J. Flanagan - MLB.com - April 25, 2015)
In 2015, Cain was selected to start in the All-Star Game.
Many things changed for Lorenzo during the 2014 playoffs, among them a trip to his first World Series. But nothing compared that October to the birth of Cain's first son, Cameron, during the postseason.
"Nothing like being a dad," Cain said. "I wouldn't trade it for the world."
Cain and his wife, Jenny, had another son, Jayden, born in January of 2016. And they're expecting a third child this fall. Lorenzo is hoping to add a girl to the family. "We'll find out any day," Cain said, smiling.
This will be Cain's third Father's Day as a parent, and he said he is honored to be a father.
"It means a lot," Cain said. "Every day I get to spend with them means a lot. They put a smile on my face."
Being a father changed Cain, he said, in dramatic ways.
"It gives you a new perspective," he said. "It changes you a lot. It humbles you. It makes you grow up in a hurry. It is something I definitely enjoy. Like I said before, they put a smile on your face. No matter what you do at the ballpark, you can go 0 for 4, and they still love you. And they're still happy to see you."
Cain also still can't believe the cuteness factor involved with having children. "My younger one, Jayden, is just starting to talk, so that's cute," Cain said. "But when you come into the house, they always run up and yell, 'Daddy!' That's always the best moment for me."
And Cain does have a special message this Father's Day: "To all the Dads out there, like I told my momma on Mother's Day, 'Keep loving on your sons.'" (Flanagan - mlb.com - 6/15/2017)
In Milwaukee, Lorenzo returned to the organization that made him a 17th-round pick in 2004, when he had played baseball for barely three years. Cain was focused on basketball until his sophomore year of high school in Florida.
In 2010, when he made it to the Major Leagues with the Brewers, he was still learning lessons. Long-time Brewers coach Ed Sedar offered an example. One day in Houston, he telephoned Cain's hotel room at about 10:30 a.m.
Sedar: "Hey, 'Lo,' what you doing?"
Cain: "Hey, Eddie! I'm just sitting back, watching TV in bed. What are you doing?"
Sedar: "I'm watching the team stretch."
Cain: "We've got a day game?!? I've got to go, Eddie!"
Sedar has told that story a lot since Cain returned, and it always gets a laugh. Ryan Braun remembers it.
"And it still happens," Braun said. "I guarantee you, he had no idea what time the game was tonight. How he made it this far is amazing." (McCalvy - mlb.com - 4/24/2018)
July 2018: Cain was selected to play reserve in the MLB All-Star game.
July 16, 2019: Cain received the MLB Players Alumni Association "Heart and Hustle" award for the Brewers. This esteemed award honors active players who demonstrate a passion for the game of baseball and best embody the values, spirit and traditions of the game. The Heart and Hustle Award is also the only award in Major League Baseball that is voted on by former players.
June 5, 2020: Lorenzo can clearly remember San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sitting on the bench for the national anthem prior to a preseason game against the Green Bay Packers in August 2016. In subsequent weeks, Kaepernick took a knee on the sidelines to bring awareness to the issue of police brutality. At the time, Cain was an All-Star who had won the World Series with the Royals and still felt unsure about what to do. One thing is clear now: Cain said he is no longer hesitant about speaking up.
"We can sugarcoat it, but kneeling was basically ending people's careers," Cain said as part of a roundtable discussion with other African American players. "I think for a lot of athletes that were in that tough position, it was very unsure whether they should kneel or stand or whatever the case may be. I think that made it tough on everybody. But ... now I feel like everybody fully, fully understands what is happening, why he kneeled. I feel like from now on, we all should use our platform to push to do the right thing."
The roundtable, hosted by Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, aired on MLB Network Radio. Besides Cain, the Pirates' Josh Bell, the Indians' Delino Deshields Jr., the Rangers' Taylor Hearn and the Orioles' Mychael Givens and Dwight Smith Jr. took part.
Cain said he was "disgusted" after watching the video of a white Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, until Floyd died.
"Me growing up, my mom worked in the fields, my grandma worked in the fields, and she always taught me to treat everyone like you would want to be treated," Cain said. "I always stuck with that, and I've grown, teaching my kids that. I have three kids myself. George Floyd was somebody's son, and I can't even imagine if I saw my son with a cop with a knee on his neck, what I would do in that situation, how I would react. It hit me hard. It hit everybody hard.
"The reaction and the response I've been getting from everybody has been positive. All of my buddies have been texting me and letting me know that they are with me, and 'try to stay positive.' Hopefully things get better from this. It's definitely shocking and tough to watch, and tough to try to explain to my kids and other people around me. There's always a few groups that don't understand and don't get it. I feel like there needs to be change. Things need to get better. Hopefully, as a group, as America, we can get better from this. Hopefully all this stops."
"For me, the police in general, they just have too much power. I think if we stripped some of that power, if the government found a way to strip some of that power or take away the immunity that they basically have—because they literally can go trespass or harass people, and nothing is done. You can see it in their faces that they're not worried about any consequences. I think that's the issue. If they start treating the police like anyone else, I think [officers] will think twice about doing things.
"For me, arresting all of those officers and holding everyone accountable allows the good cops, the bad cops, to look at each other [and the good cops] say, 'If I see something that another cop is doing wrong, then I need to step in and intervene because I could also be charged along with this bad cop who's doing something he shouldn't be doing. We need to start there."
Cain struck a hopeful tone.
"Hopefully, we're headed in that direction [toward] peace," he said. "Everyone love each other, respect each other, and teaching kids growing up what they need to do in order for all of us to survive." (A McCalvy - MLB.com - June 5, 2020)
Aug. 1-Nov 2, 2020: As the Brewers’ home-opening series remained on hold, Milwaukee center fielder Lorenzo Cain has elected not to play the remainder of the 2020 season.
Cain, a father of three young boys, became the first Brewers player to exercise his right to sit out when he announced the decision through the club. The news came before the postponement of a Cardinals-Brewers game due to additional positive tests for COVID-19 within the St. Louis traveling party.
“After careful consideration and discussion with my family, I have decided to opt out of the remainder of the 2020 season,” Cain said in a written statement. “With all of the uncertainty and unknowns surrounding our game at this time, I feel that this is the best decision for me, my wife and our three kids. (Adam McCalvy )
Nov 14, 2020: There's no crying in baseball.
Lorenzo had occasion to recall this phrase when he launched a ball over the fence and out of the backyard against his three sons. The moment was captured on video and posted on Instagram by Cain's wife, Jenny.
In the video, you can watch Cain celebrate his way around the bases as the kids lament that the ball he smashed was the last one they had to play with.
"Yeah, we can't play anymore because I hit all those balls out there," Cain gushed while rounding third.
Then one of the boys headed into the house as Cain crossed the plate, and the next thing you hear is a child crying.
"Is he crying?" asked Cain.
Apparently he was. But don't fret. Jenny posted that more baseballs were found and the game continued. One of the boys, Cameron, even belted his own home run over the fence.
We don't exactly know whether "there's no crying in baseball" was ever jokingly uttered in the aftermath of LoCain's homer barrage. (M Randhawa - MLB.com - Nov 14, 2020)
2017-2020 Seasons: Lorenzo Cain had a spectacular 2018 for the Brewers, a disappointing 2019, and opted out of 2020. Cain is entering his age-35 season, and despite his late start to baseball, he is starting to show signs of his age.
His defense is still elite. Outs Above Average has been around since 2017, and since then Cain has been in the 99th (18), 100th (21), and 99th (14) percentile every year from 2017–2019. And he finally took home his long deserved Gold Glove Award in 2019. (Josh Waldoch - Jan. 5, 2021)
April 16, 2021: Every year since 2004, Major League Baseball celebrated the anniversary of Jackie Robinson making his MLB debut and breaking the league’s color barrier on April 15, 1947. And every year, clubs from across the league commemorate Jackie Robinson Day by discussing his influence, wearing his No. 42 or any number of other efforts.
Lorenzo found another way to help make a difference in Robinson’s honor.
He elected to donate his game salary to The Players Alliance, which aims to make baseball more accessible and create more opportunities and resources for black communities. Bradley was one of more than 100 players included in an announcement from the organization, and the Alliance announced Cain’s pledge. (R Herrera - MLB.com - April 16, 2021)
June 2004: The Brewers chose Cain in the 17th round, as a draft and follow, out of Madison County High School in Madison, Florida. He played ball at a community college for one year, then signed for $95,000.
December 19, 2010: The Royals traded RHP Zack Greinke, SS Yuniesky Betancourt, and cash to Milwaukee; receiving Cain, SS Alcides Escobar, RHP Jake Odorizzi, and RHP Jeremy Jeffress.
January 18, 2016: The Royals signed Cain to a two-year, $17.5 million contract.
Nov 2, 2017: Cain chose free agency.
- Jan. 25, 2018: The Brewers signed Cain to a five-year, $80 million deal.