LOS ANGELES -- The fiery red hair came from his great grandpa on his mother's side, but Justin Turner said just about everything else about him has been influenced by his father, John.And for as long as he's a Dodger, Justin said one of the best side benefits is that
LOS ANGELES -- The fiery red hair came from his great grandpa on his mother's side, but Justin Turner said just about everything else about him has been influenced by his father, John.
And for as long as he's a Dodger, Justin said one of the best side benefits is that he often gets to celebrate Father's Day at home with dad, which is something baseball players don't take for granted.
:: Father's Day 2016 ::
"The coolest thing is that over the last three years we're here, and [my dad] comes out and gets to enjoy the game," said Justin, who grew up in suburban Bellflower, Calif., and went to school at Cal State Fullerton, down the I-5 from Dodger Stadium. "Two years ago on Father's Day against the D-backs, I got to pinch-hit and got a double off Oliver Perez.
"Maybe the gift he enjoyed the most was my freshman year in college. We were in the College World Series against Stanford, and I went 3-for-4 and had my first collegiate home run. I'm sure if you asked him, he'd say that was the best Father's Day gift I ever gave him."
For as far back as Justin can remember, John was there to guide his baseball career and set an example for life.
"I have a Christmas video, I was about 3 years old and he bought me a plastic T-ball set," said Justin. "I still watch the video. I got a slide, so I slide down the slide, grab the bat, hit the ball off the tee and go shoot a basket. That's my earliest baseball memory of my dad getting me going. My dad played in high school and some of his teammates had baseball careers. Mike Fitzgerald, he played in the big leagues. Rick Vanderhook, now the coach at Fullerton, one of my coaches at Fullerton. My dad's relationships definitely had an impact on my life as a baseball player.
"He coached all my teams all the way up, and even the freshman high school baseball team and on my travel ball teams. All the way until I got to college, he was with me every game and every practice, staying on me, pushing to get the best out of me."
Justin's hard-nosed gamer mentality? He said that's his dad in him.
"A lot of it was mental, learning how to win, learning how to be successful and learning how to overcome, learning toughness," he said. "He's pretty hard-nosed and vocal and loud. One of the things growing up and playing for him, a lot of my friends on other teams thought he was a little crazy. Then they came over and played for him, and they loved him. He's going to let you know you messed up, and two seconds later, his arm is around you and he's picking you up. It was tough love, not just for me but all my friends.
"When dad's the coach, you definitely don't want to disappoint him, you want to play hard. Stuff comes up, maybe an injury or something nagging, you don't want to say anything and you learn to play through it. And that carries over to today, knowing what you can play with and what you can't play with. You see guys with the smallest thing come up and they're out of the lineup. I learned from an early age that you can play through that stuff."
** Ken Gurnick ** has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.