Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier will need some time to get his mind around what he knows will be the greatest journey of his life. He's a father for the first time, and this holiday season will be unlike any he has experienced."Leading up to this, ever since we found
Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier will need some time to get his mind around what he knows will be the greatest journey of his life. He's a father for the first time, and this holiday season will be unlike any he has experienced.
"Leading up to this, ever since we found out we were expecting, everyone told me you'll never experience anything like the love you have for your children," Kiermaier said. "Now five and a half weeks into this, I know what they were talking about."
His wife, Marisa, gave birth to a son, Karter James, on Nov. 12. He was a strapping 9 pounds, 13 ounces. Oh, and he's still growing. Fast. Really fast.
"Our pediatrician is amazed," Kiermaier said. "He's in the 100th percentile -- 12 pounds, 9 ounces and 24 1/2 inches. Me and Mommy have our hands full just feeding him."
Because Karter was born during the offseason, the new family will have a few months together before the start of another baseball season. Kevin's parents have visited from Indiana, and Kevin, Marisa and Karter will visit them in January.
For this first Christmas as parents, it'll be the three of them getting to know one another.
"The thing about that is, I know a lot of guys go on the paternity list during the season and then come back and play," Kiermaier said. "I tip my hat to those guys and to their wives. I don't know how they do it. The best thing about having him during the offseason is I can get terrible sleep and get up with him, and it doesn't matter. I don't have a game to get ready for at 7 o'clock.
"Taking care of a baby by themselves, these wives deserve an honor, a high honor. I can leave for a few hours to go work out and hit, and when I come back, I see how full her hands are."
One of the holiday traditions Kiermaier most remembers growing up in Indiana is how he and one of his brothers and a cousin would show up at a Christmas Eve family event in cutoff T-shirts.
Sounds like a silly little thing -- a bunch of boys at grandma's house. Funny how the silly little things are those that still have a special place in the heart and mind.
"I don't remember how it originated," he said. "It was when I was 7, 8, 9 years old. It was cold then, and we wanted to show everyone how tough we were. I took a lot of pride in that as funny as it sounds now."
Now for something completely different: figuring out this parenting thing.
"He's doing great, awesome," Kiermaier said of the baby. "Thanksgiving was special, and I can't wait to wake up on Christmas morning with him. We're looking forward to dressing him up and just being with him. I know it's just another day for him, but we have a full lifetime ahead, looking forward to days like this. We're looking forward to creating our own family traditions."
Life comes at you fast. Kiermaier and his two brothers were married within a span of a few weeks last offseason. His bachelor party was a bow fishing trip to Wisconsin. With a honeymoon to Antigua, his brothers' weddings and the Wisconsin trip, Kiermaier traveled more than 8,000 miles. This offseason will be a bit calmer, but even more interesting.
"This is the greatest feeling in the world," he said. "We're thankful it happened like this for us, so we can figure out how to be parents for four or five months before baseball."
Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.