When Josh Bell hit home runs as a kid, his dad would reward him by taking him out for a meal. Today, Bell is still hitting home runs, though it's likely these days he's the one picking up the check after the postgame celebratory dinner.Bell, the Pirates' rookie first baseman
When Josh Bell hit home runs as a kid, his dad would reward him by taking him out for a meal. Today, Bell is still hitting home runs, though it's likely these days he's the one picking up the check after the postgame celebratory dinner.
Bell, the Pirates' rookie first baseman whose star is quickly rising, spent most of his childhood playing baseball, and most of the time, he was with his dad. The two hit the backyard at their home in Coppell, Texas, where Josh would attempt to impress his pops by hitting as many balls as possible over the backyard fence.
"When I think about it, a lot of people were like, 'Oh my gosh, you spent so many hours. That must have been hard work,'" Bell said. "For me, it was always like, No. 1, I get to hang out with my pops. … It was always in good spirits."
:: Father's Day 2017 ::
Bell joins legions of Major Leaguers this weekend to celebrate Father's Day, the one official day of the year dedicated to dear old Dad.
In conjunction with Father's Day, Major League Baseball will, as it has in years past, spend the weekend raising awareness about prostate cancer and funds for research to fight the disease. Players and on-field personnel are wearing the symbolic blue ribbon on their uniforms along with blue wristbands.
Also, for the second consecutive year, players will wear specially-designed uniforms and caps to raise awareness and funds for the fight against prostate cancer. The uniforms incorporate blue into the clubs' regular logos, while the caps are highlighted by a blue shadow tech heather crown and graphite visor.
• MLB.TV Father's Week deal
Naturally, a lot of today's Major Leaguers' fondest memories of their dad involve a ball, a glove and a backyard, with several rounds of batting practice mixed into an afternoon.
Ballplayers come in all shapes and sizes and come from all diverse backgrounds. But most have one commonality: the most valuable gift they received from their dads was, simply, time.
But even time can be interpreted in unique ways. While Bell's best memories come from a simple game of catch in the backyard, Reds reliever Drew Storen was exposed to the game at an early age as the son of a baseball broadcaster who often tagged along when his dad went to work.
Mark Patrick, Storen's dad, is now retired, but he spent decades the broadcasting industry. When he was working at WISH-TV in Indianapolis, on days when he was scheduled to cover the Indianapolis Indians -- then the Reds' Triple-A affiliate -- he would bring Drew along and let him soak it all in.
"I got to see what it was like to be in this light, and it just fueled my dreams even more," Drew said. "So I'm always thankful that my dad stuck his neck out for me and took me along to all those things."
• Shop for Father's Day
Father's Day can also be a somber day, one of remembrance for the dads that have passed on. D-backs manager Torey Lovullo will spend his first Father's Day without his dad, Sam, who passed away in January at the age of 88.
Interestingly, Sam was an executive producer for "Hee Haw," a TV variety show featuring country music that ran from 1969-71 and lived in syndication for another 21 years. While Torey enjoyed rubbing shoulders with famous characters from that show when he was a kid, what he mostly remembers from his childhood is what his dad taught him about the right way to treat people.
"Especially if they're doing a favor for you," Lovullo said, "you need to be mindful of the sacrifice they could have made."
Father's Day can also signify gratitude for renewed health and second chances. Dodgers utility man Enrique "Kike" Hernandez is thankful to be able to celebrate his dad, Enrique Hernandez II, after the elder Hernandez suffered from multiple myeloma, a blood cancer related to leukemia. Last November, it was determined the cancer is in remission.
"All of my baseball," said Kike, "I get from him. When I was 4, he took me to a baseball camp, and I said I didn't want to go back because it was too hot. But he would play in a semi-pro league and I would go and soon I wanted to play, too. When I was 6, he saw my potential. Since then, my life has been nothing but baseball, and he's been right by my side."
It's the best place to be.
Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.