When you speak to Nationals outfielder Scott Hairston, it's obvious how grateful he is that he's in the Major Leagues. The 34-year-old said he wouldn't be in baseball if not for his father, Jerry Hairston Sr., who is a special assistant coach for the White Sox at their Minor League complex.
Jerry was a big leaguer himself in the 1970s and '80s -- mostly with the White Sox -- and was a pinch-hitter extraordinaire. To Scott, Jerry was not only a ballplayer, he's a Hall of Fame dad.
"I look up to my dad," Scott said. "My dad and I are a lot alike -- personality-wise. The way we deal with our kids. There are a lot of similarities. My dad means a lot to me. I just want to make him proud."
Scott has made Jerry proud, all right. Like his dad, Scott has become a pinch-hitter extraordinaire, and he's the active leader in career pinch-hit home runs with 13. Scott is also having a great year coming off the bench for the Nats, hitting .391.
Said Jerry about Scott's role as a pinch-hitter: "The one issue you have to deal with is accepting the role. Once you get to that spot where you accept it, then you can start to excel in your craft. He is to that point now. He enjoys playing baseball, and he enjoys the role he is playing at this particular time."
Scott has great memories of his father taking him and his two older brothers, including Jerry Hairston Jr., to Comiskey Park. There, Scott met legends such as Carlton Fisk, Ozzie Guillen and Harold Baines. Scott called it a pleasure to be around them.
In fact, Scott's favorite memory as a kid was when the White Sox clinched the American League West title in 1983. Scott was only 3 years old, but his memory is clear about that day. He remembers being in the family room when the White Sox were pouring champagne in the clubhouse.
"I remember it like it was yesterday," Scott said. "In the bottom of the eighth, the families were sent down to the family room. … So we are all waiting there, we were watching the game on TV. I remember just sitting there, when Harold hit that sacrifice fly. The crowd got really loud. I remember when Julio Cruz scored. That's when it got really loud.
"I just remember people going crazy, yelling and screaming. We're in the family room for about an hour and a half. My dad had champagne all over him. We talked to him for a little bit and then we went back in the family room and waited for him for another hour. We got home really late that night. It was a great experience."
Baseball is not the only reason he respects his father. Jerry Sr. created a good foundation while he was raising Scott and his four other children. Jerry Sr. made it a point to treat people with respect, and he's a hardworking individual to this day.
Scott's father told him, "Whatever you decide to do, you want to do it with all your heart."
Scott took those words to heart.
"My dad played with a lot of players, and he knew what it took to get to the Major Leagues," Scott said. "He knew what I wanted to do, and he believed I could make it. That did a lot for me, because that helped me believe in myself as a young kid."
Jerry Sr. said his son hasn't changed a bit since 1983 -- quiet, reserved and always observing what's going on around him. Scott's father said his sons knew how to respect the game at an early age.
"He is still kind of quiet. If you don't talk as much, you learn more. I'm sure you picked up on that," Jerry said about Scott. "Unlike most dads, I kept that as a treat for them to be in the clubhouse. They weren't there all the time. They learned to respect the game. It was a place where you are not running around, you are going to work. The [White Sox] always came over and talked to them. They knew they had to be respectful. They had to respect the place of the other players."
Jerry Sr. takes pleasure in knowing how much his son respects him. Scott often calls his father to thank him for what he did over the years.
Scott has followed his dad's lead when he brings his two sons to the clubhouse. They're always respectful and sit by their dad's locker whenever they visit Nationals Park.
"You try your best to raise your kids right," Jerry Sr. said. "You do what's best for them. To hear him call me and tell me those things, that really makes me feel good. He is the disciplinarian and he keeps the kids in line."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats.