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Boxberger proud to carry on legacy of father

ST. PETERSBURG -- For the majority of his baseball career, Brad Boxberger has had the experience of his father, Rod, to lean on.

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Over the last three seasons, however, Boxberger has been able to do something that his father never could: compete at the Major League level on Father's Day. With that in mind, though, the Rays' reliever has not forgotten all that his dad did to help him reach this point in his career.

"He kind of led me in the right direction and kind of helped me out along the path in terms of making some decisions and just being there for the encouragement, day in and day out," Boxberger said.

The connection between Brad and Rod has always been more than just family. When Brad was choosing colleges, he elected to go to the University of Southern California, where Rod was named the Most Outstanding Player for his performance in the 1978 College World Series.

In three years with the Trojans, Brad never witnessed as much as a regional appearance in the College World Series, but he did go 11-12 with a 3.81 ERA and was selected in the supplemental first round (43rd overall) by the Reds in the 2009 Draft.

"It was cool to go to USC because he was there and everything he did there, but I was definitely going there to try and make a name for myself," Brad said. "I wanted to be the best college player I could be. It would have been tough to live up to what he did there, but it was awesome to be part of that."

Rod was drafted 11th overall by the Astros in 1978, and played six years in the Minor Leagues but never reached the Majors. That's where Brad has his father trumped. In the midst of his fourth season in the big leagues, the right-hander has put together a 2.61 ERA with 18 saves through the first 131 appearances of his career.

"College is what it is, and there are only so many people who remember you for college," Brad said, "but to be able to go on and further your career and be on a more broad spectrum is something I've enjoyed."

This year, though, Boxberger has a completely different outlook on what it means to play on Father's Day, as he will participate for the first time as a father after the birth of his daughter, Ava, on Sept. 18, 2014. Ava will be in the stands Sunday.

"It definitely has a new meaning this year, being that it's my first Father's Day," Brad said. "Before, it was my dad's Father's Day and the meaning of what it really is never really set in with me, so it'll be cool to go out there and play on Father's Day now that it has a little different meaning now."

Troy Provost-Heron is an associate reporter for
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