Cron following in his father's footsteps

Halos' first baseman grew up around the game

June 16th, 2017
Baseball has always been a big part on C.J. Cron's life, as his father, Chris, played in the big leagues. (Cron family)

ANAHEIM -- C.J. Cron doesn't remember much from his father's playing days. When Chris Cron broke into the Majors with the Angels in 1991, his eldest son was one-year old, too young for any of those memories to take hold.

But C.J. has plenty of recollections of Chris' career as a Minor League coach and manager. He spent the summers of his youth following his father to towns like Hickory, N.C., and Birmingham, Ala., where he saw his own baseball development begin to take shape.

:: Father's Day 2017 ::

"I guess I kind of grew up around the game," C.J said. "You almost can't even pinpoint stuff because I don't know any different. We were always hitting, we were always taking ground balls, we were always playing catch. Ever since I was born, I was in all that stuff.

"Just being around all the teams that he used to coach, I think helped me a lot," he added. "It definitely plays a big part in where I am today."

Chris, now the Minor League hitting coordinator for the D-backs, also believes C.J.'s early exposure to the game granted him a wealth of knowledge that he still carries with him as a first baseman for the Angels.

"I don't know exactly how he got all the little nuances of the game," Chris said in a phone interview. "I always say that I could not feasibly teach my kids everything that they've ever learned, but being that they were always there in the Minor Leagues for umpteen years, osmosis took over and it just sunk in, somehow, someway."

Given Chris' own trajectory in professional baseball, it seemed natural that C.J. would also gravitate toward the sport.

Baseball was always on in the Cron household, and Chris recalls C.J. hammering softballs, sliding and imitating the players he saw on television as a kid. As he grew older, C.J.'s talent began to emerge. By the time he got to the University of Utah and became a two-time All American, it became clear to Chris that his son had a future in the big leagues.

In 2011, the Angels selected C.J. with their first-round Draft pick, bringing him into the same organization where his father had spent the bulk of his 12-year playing career.

"It was a special night," Chris said.

Chris typically makes a trip out to Angel Stadium to see C.J. play once a year, but he watches all his at-bats on television and is always available as a hitting resource for his son.

"I would love for him to use me more," Chris joked.

Said C.J.: "At this point in my life, I know exactly what he's going to say every time. I've been hearing it for years upon years. But it's always nice to hear what he has to say. I always take it to heart. And he knows if I ever have questions, I go right to him, so that's kind of how it works."

Regardless of C.J.'s results on a given night, Chris always makes sure to send him an encouraging text message after each game, assuming his primary role as a parent rather than a coach in his son's life.

"I'm there as the father more so than the hitting guy," Chris said. "It doesn't matter how they're doing. If it's good or it's poor, you're always still trying to be the regular parent and just say, 'Hey man, I'm so proud of you. Just keep doing what you're doing because you're living your dream.'"