Baseball a family affair for Lucroys
MILWAUKEE -- Father's Day came early for Steve Lucroy, who was elated when his sons were joined in the same professional organization last week.
With catcher Jonathan Lucroy already entrenched behind the plate in Milwaukee, the Brewers made it a family affair when they selected younger brother David, a right-hander out of East Carolina University, in the 20th round of the 2015 Draft. David will begin his professional career in Helena, Mont., where he once visited his big brother at the same stage in his career.
"My dad is jacked up," David Lucroy said.
It's a dream come true for Steve Lucroy, whose other son, Matthew, is a firefighter/EMT in Florida. Having his oldest and youngest son together in the Brewers organization means that, for the first time in years, the family will be able to enjoy Spring Training together.
Did Dad ever see this coming?
"I'll be honest," Steve said. "I never thought that Jonathan would make it. I didn't. I knew he was good, but I never thought that he would make it to the big leagues. I watch him now on TV, and I still have a hard time putting my hands around that, grasping the idea that I've got a kid actually playing in the big leagues on TV."
He pauses and thinks about it a moment.
"I know some dads can sit there and say, 'Oh yeah, I knew he was going to make it.' No, I really didn't," he said. "We kept saying, 'Look, just get to the next stop.' Both boys have taken it and run with it. That's just what I want them to do."
Steve Lucroy was once presented with the same opportunity. Growing up in Florida, he was good enough as a shortstop and third baseman that he earned an opportunity to play at Seminole Community College, a baseball hotbed that has produced four Major League All-Stars, including Bobby Thigpen and Lance Parrish.
Lucroy chose a different route, marrying high school sweetheart Karen and going to work for his father's golf course-fertilization business.
He eventually took over the business and ran it until several years ago.
"When I made that decision it was 1979, '80, and we were big Atlanta Braves fans and Cincinnati Reds fans back then," Steve said. "For some reason I just chose to go to work. When the boys were little, I tried to drill it in their heads, 'Try not to make the same mistakes I made. Try to stay with it. If you have the talent, stay with it.'
"Because I had a chance. I just didn't go with it."
Two years after walking away from baseball, Steve had a change of heart and went to a tryout with the Cardinals. It was clear, he said, that the time off had dulled his edge. So he played professional softball instead, until Jonathan was 6 or 7 years old.
"When he started playing, then I quit and focused on those guys," Steve said. "My focus became on my kids instead of on myself."
"My dad's influence on myself and my brothers really made a big difference in the way we go about our business and lives on the baseball field and off the field," Jonathan Lucroy said. "He taught me to be a professional."
Now another Lucroy son is on the same path.
"I just hope for the best, that they can stay healthy and keep moving forward," Steve said.