Ball in the family: Dads, sons share MLB experience
In honor of Father's Day, we asked a number of current Major Leaguers with fathers who are former big leaguers to talk about the father-son MLB experience.
Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon spent his childhood summers traveling from ballpark to ballpark with his father, Tom, who pitched 21 years in the Major Leagues.
"They let me run around and be a kid," Gordon said of his many days spent running around Fenway Park and hanging around the likes of Pedro Martinez and Nomar Garciaparra. "It was awesome."
Rangers slugger Prince Fielder was also raised around the clubhouse. His father, Cecil, played 13 seasons in the Majors.
In the case of the Fielders, Dad always had a gut feeling his son would be a big leaguer.
"[Prince] was a baseball player from Day 1," Cecil said. "He was around the ballpark and he loved the game and you know when you have a kid that has that much enthusiasm in something, he's going to be special. I always knew he was going to be a special player."
Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. had a slightly different experience than Gordon and Fielder. His father, Lance Sr., pitched for seven seasons in The Show, but he never pushed his son into baseball.
"My dad was pretty quiet about his big league career," McCullers Jr. said. "He just really wanted us to enjoy playing ball as a kid and fall in love with the game."
Check out what some other players and their fathers had to say on their unique relationships:
Royals catcher Drew Butera (father Sal played nine years in the Majors)
Sal: The Father's Day I remember most was in 2010. I was supposed to surprise Drew and spend Father's Day with him. That was his rookie year and the Twins were at Philadelphia. Well, it turned out to be really special because I came in on a Saturday and the next day was Father's Day and he hit his first big-league homer, a pinch-hit homer. To see your son hit his first big eague homer, that had to be my fondest memory.
Drew: Yeah, that was really neat. I remember the game went into extra innings, and I was down in the bullpen and they called up. And basically they were out of hitters, so they had me pinch-hit. It was the 10th inning and I hit a solo home run and he was there to see it. I got him the ball.
Mets outfielder John Mayberry Jr. (father John Sr. played 15 years in the Majors)
John Jr.: We talk pretty frequently. I think the biggest advantage for me, in that respect, is he's been around the game for, you know, decades. So any experience that I have or I'm going through, any questions that I have, I've got somebody that I know is going to be a reliable source and is going to be able to give me an informed and educated answer.
Indians outfielder Michael Brantley (father Mickey played four years in the Majors)
Michael: Growing up watching your father play in the big leagues and then you have your opportunity to play your first Major League game as well, to have your father in attendance, it's a moment that you never kind of get back. It's one thing we'll always share together.
Indians manager Terry Francona (father Tito played 15 years in the Majors)
Terry: I'm so fortunate. In a nutshell, the best way I can it put it, because until I was about 12, my dad was always gone. And, that was back [when] you had to go to school and they didn't make the kind of money where you could come visit all the time. So, for the most part, he was probably two or three thousand miles away, and he had a really wonderful way of making feel like he wasn't. And this was before cell phones. He always knew when I had a game and he'd call home. He'd ask if I hustled or if I tried hard, and then at the end he'd ask if I got any hits. But, I never once felt like my dad wasn't around, which was a pretty big compliment to him."
Padres outfielder Will Venable (father Max played 12 years in the Majors)
Will: My dad was more of a speed guy and not necessarily a home run hitter. I remember a grand slam he hit at Anaheim Stadium like it was yesterday. I was probably 8 or 9 years old. It wasn't like it was the only home run he hit. But because it was a big deal, because it was a grand slam probably, and because I was old at that time, that has stuck in my head ever since and is one of the few on-field memories that is still very vivid for me.
Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano (father Jose played 1 year in the Majors)
Robinson: He used to bring me to the ballpark and pitch to me, take me to the cage or throw to me on the side of the field. He always was there for me. He was a big influence. He was the guy.