Bourjos' dad a scout, but always a father first

June 16th, 2016
Peter Bourjos warms up before a game against the Brewers in Milwaukee. (Getty)Dylan Buell/Getty Images

PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies outfielder Peter Bourjos always played shortstop and hit leadoff.

Chris Bourjos, Peter's father and a longtime scout, made sure never to make out the lineup card, though. He left those duties to Rob Wrobel, who also played professionally, but never past A ball. Brook Jacoby, an 11-year Major Leaguer and current Blue Jays hitting coach, helped out, as well as Bob Brenly, who at the time was still a few years away from leading the Diamondbacks to a World Series title.

Their sons -- Peter (Chris' son), Brook Jr. and Torrey (Brook's sons), and Mike (Bob's son) -- helped form neighborhood teams, led by their fathers' Major League coaching. Mike played in the Minors before becoming the Red Sox bullpen catcher. Torrey played at Pepperdine before getting injured.

"We did pretty good. It was pretty much just local kids," Chris remembered. "We had a couple of kids that got drafted and signed but didn't get too far. The thing is, we didn't really recruit. We just had neighborhood kids, and we did well. We did very well."

Chris, who was a scout for the Blue Jays but has since moved to the Padres, has also always declined to file scouting reports on his son. As a father with a scout's eye, though, he first noticed Peter's potential around the same time they began to form those summer and winter ball teams.

"I remember telling my wife, 'Pete's a prospect.' One thing, he could run. And he could play center," Chris said. "He could already play defensively that good in high school. My wife would say, 'Are you sure?' And I said, 'I'm being real objective.' I knew that summer after his freshman year."

Peter Bourjos grew up around baseball. Chris had played a season in the Majors but quickly moved to scouting, landing his first gig in 1984 with the Blue Jays, where he'd stay for 18 years, running the gamut of roles.

"I think he kind of grew up a Blue Jays fan," Chris said with a laugh.

Scouting isn't a 9-to-5 job. Take Chris's upcoming work schedule for example: He'll go from Lake Elsinore, Calif., to Las Vegas, to Richmond, Va., to Hartford, Conn.

"He was busy," Peter said. "Spring, obviously with Spring Training games. A lot of times, he'd try to work out his schedule where if we were playing on one side of town in high school, he'd try to match up one of his teams over there."

But Chris will find time to see Peter next week -- stopping in Philadelphia for Monday's game -- just like he did growing up.

While there, Peter could go several weeks without seeing his dad, and he'd also accompany Chris on summer scouting trips to San Diego and Los Angeles. Living in the Phoenix area, much of Chris's work was on the West Coast, and he'd always try to drive.

"We'd drive, I'd pick his brain in the car, and we'd get to watch games and usually get to chase down balls during batting practice," Peter said.

Many of Peter's best memories with his dad came on baseball fields. But Chris made sure never to put the kind of pressure he saw other parents -- those who hadn't played pro ball -- put on their kids. They packed a bat and some balls on every trip they went on. They hopped fences to take BP. But that was at Peter's urging.

"We all understood that this game is tough," Chris said. "None of us -- well, Brook had a decent career and so did Bob -- we didn't get there easily. It was hard for all of us. …

"It's amazing how hard it is to find a baseball field to take batting practice on without getting kicked off."

Peter attributes that to the strong relationship the two share today. They talk almost daily, though rarely getting into any mechanics. Chris leaves that, too, to someone who doesn't share his genes.