By Christopher Smith
---- — Happy Father’s Day to all you fathers in the Merrimack Valley and Southern New Hampshire. In honor of this day, we asked major leaguers about their fathers. Hope you enjoy ...
Red Sox manager — Won World Series in first year with Boston
“He taught all of us in our family a tremendous work ethic and because I worked with him (as a commercial lobster fishermen) I had a rare opportunity to see how he dealt with people both in good times and bad. And he always saw the person and not what they might have been dealing with at the time. So those were two extremely valuable lessons that I learned at a very young age.
“As a young kid, he also taught me how to pitch in terms of a pitching delivery. Whenever Tom Seaver was on TV with the Mets, it was kind of his telestrator to show by example.”
Red Sox starting pitcher — 2.90 ERA in 7 career starts
“My dad used to catch all my bullpens all the way through college. It wasn’t until I got into pro ball that he didn’t catch me. I’d come home for Christmas break in college and he’d always sit back there on a chair and catch me, get me ready for the season.”
Red Sox reliever — 2006 All-Star
“My dad was a baseball player. He always tells me the story about the day I was born he had a game that day. He was playing for the Tri-County League in the area (Springfield, Mass.). And he came to the hospital with his spikes on and his uniform on. To this day, I always call him after I pitch in a game.”
Indians DH — 2000 AL MVP
“He was the one who taught us how to play the game. He was a big Mickey Mantle fan and he knew a lot about hitting like the Charley Lau (theories) and the Ted Williams strike zone. We’d go out every weekend, my brother (ex-Major Leaguer Jeremy) and I. Whenever we had time we’d always be playing baseball and hitting and practicing and having a good time. That was our family time.”
Red Sox third base coach — 35 years in professional ball
“I always remember how tough he was. I remember when I was a little kid he was throwing batting practice for the University of Maine baseball team because he was the head coach there and he got hit by a line drive in the ribs. And he started spitting out blood and they wanted to take him to the infirmary and he refused to go.
“He kept throwing to the rest of his group while he was spitting out blood. Finally, about five of the players grabbed him and they physically put him in the car to send him up the hill to the infirmary. He was only 5-10, 5-11 but to me, he always seemed like he was 9-feet tall. He just seemed like Paul Bunyan to me just because he was such a quiet, tough guy.”
Indians center fielder — 2-time All-Star
“Our (Little League) team was going to an indoor batting cage in Houston. (The machine) was throwing the ball pretty hard, around 85 (mph). We were young. We were 12. And the dude didn’t want us to hit on it. He was like, ‘They’re too young.’ My daddy talked to him. And he was like, ‘I’ll let you see if they can hit it.’ He put Carl (Crawford) in there first and he hit 15 out of 15. And then he put me in there, and I hit 14 out of 15.”
Indians Starting Pitcher — 2013 All-Star
“My dad (a pastor) was great. In the sports world, he just said I had to play something when I was a kid. So I started playing T-Ball. He was always an assistant coach. But I think more so in just a life sense, just teaching me what matters most. You can play this game or sports, you can do whatever you want, but at the end of the day your relationship with Jesus Christ is what really matters. He modeled that, showed that, treated people the right way, did things the right way. No better person to look at than him to see how to live your life.”
Rays starting pitcher — 2.76 ERA in 2013
“From a baseball standpoint, he’s been everything. He’s the one who got me into it, taught me everything he knew. Got me with instructors who knew more than he did when I surpassed his info. Beyond that, as my major league career’s unfolded, he’s always been that stable, calming voice, never being too high or too low on everything. When it’s a bad game, he definitely takes positives out of stuff.
“He showed me the way to handle adversity and deal with the struggles throughout my life (especially after Alex’s mother died of a stroke in 2005). I knew he was always there for me when I needed him.”
JACKIE BRADLEY JR.
Red Sox center fielder — First-round pick in 2011
“He’s one of the biggest supporters there are out there. He does so much for me, my brother and my sister as well. Just being there, being able to talk through things when need-be and he’s a hard worker. That’s what I’ve always known him as — a guy who hustles any way he can to get by.
“He actually played baseball till high school but actually played basketball in college. He said back in his time everybody wanted to be Dr. J (Julius Erving). So that kind of influenced his life. He played at Fayetteville State, a college in North Carolina. But he’s always loved baseball, loved everything about it. That was, I guess, probably one of his one regrets. He said he wished he had played baseball because he felt like he could have gotten a little farther.”
Rays Right Fielder— 2013 AL Rookie of the Year
“The biggest thing is he was very honest in how I played the game. If I went 2 for 4, he’d want to know what happened the other two at-bats. I really respect that. I really appreciated that as I got older. I really didn’t understand it at the time.”
Tribune baseball reporter — cut from high school team
“My father’s father left him when he was young so he never had a father to learn from. For that reason, he always wanted to be the best father he could be. He has made a few mistakes. One time when I was 10, he probably should have been helping me as I hobbled with crutches and a broken leg on a very slippery bathroom floor at the PawSox game. Instead, he wasn’t paying attention and I slipped on some watery substance nobody wants to fall into (get what I mean?) But overall, the man gets an A+ and was the Best Man at my wedding in April.”
Red Sox reliever — 1.81 ERA in 2013
“My father was my first coach and he was always active in my sports career, driving me to practices, coaching Little League teams, basketball teams, soccer teams. He still is a coach back in my hometown today (Trumbull High in Connecticut). He had coached soccer, basketball and tennis and now he just does tennis. He’s someone who I knew I could always go to for advice on sports. He’s also a (science) teacher so it’s kind of a good match for me.”