“Dad, wanna play catch?”
Every Father’s Day I can’t help but think of that scene from Field of Dreams where Kevin Costner plays catch with his dad (once your done reading you can watch it here).
I’m not ashamed to say it makes me cry every time. I wanted to ask some of the ‘Riders what some of their favorite baseball memories were with their dads, and I’m glad I can share their answers with you.
“To this day, I remember my dad, and my mom, always being there and watching every game my brothers and I played.”
I then asked Boo about the first time his dad got to see him play in the major leagues.
“We were playing the Angles and I had a bunch of friends and family come out to the game. I remember hugging my dad after the game and him telling me that he had tears in his eyes during the National Anthem.”
LHP, Robbie Erlin: Growing up in Santa Cruz, Calif., Erlin’s father probably never imagined that his son would be the Rangers’ No. 4 prospect at just 20-years-old. But as Erlin’s coach in the Scotts Valley Little League, he greatly influenced his son’s future career.
“When I was 9-years-old my dad told me that before I could throw a curveball, I had to be able to locate my fastball. He and I worked after practice on throwing a curve and finally one day during a game I was pitching he signaled to our catcher to call for a curveball.”
As we all know, Robbie’s curveball is now one of the best in the Rangers’ minor league system. I then asked Robbie if 9-years-old was a bit early to be throwing a curve.
“Not if you know how to throw it.”
3B, Tommy Mendonca: By now, we all know how well Tommy has been playing lately. And we all know how hard he’s been working out. Most are aware of the magical ride he went on when playing for Fresno State University in 2008 when the Bulldogs won the College World Series and Mendo was named the College World Series Most Outstanding Player as a sophomore.
“Both of my parents were at every game in Omaha during our playoff run. My dad was my little league coach and it was great having him and my mom watching me and supporting me when we were playing in such big games.”
RHP, Jake Brigham: One of seven kids (four brothers, two sisters) , Jake grew up in Florida where his dad was a barber. He had to cut a lot of hair to support all those hungry mouths and thus had one day off a week: Wednesday.
“Every Wednesday afternoon he’d take us seven kids to Barnett Park and we had practically enough players to field a team. I remember him pitching to us … We all got a chance to field, catch, hit, and play the outfield.”
“It was great having my dad coach me in Babe Ruth League. Once I turned pro, he first had a chance to watch me play in Hickory. My best memories are of him watching me in high school, though. It was great then because I always had lots of family at the games.”
2B, Davis Stoneburner: His real name is Ralph, which, so conveniently for today’s article, is his father’s name. After asking him a baseball memory he shared with his dad, Stoney gave me an answer in a way that only he could.
“The first time my dad saw me play as a professional was in Clinton, Ia. when I was playing for the LumberKings. I was a shortstop at the time and he came out to watch me play a four-game series. Bad part was I didn’t get a single hit.”
Fortunately, he’s now riding a nine-game hitting streak. Looks like he’s recovered.
We’ll have more of a tribute to Father’s Day on the pre-game show tonight. Along with Mother’s Day, it’s one of my favorite pre-game segments all season long. First pitch tonight in the series finale in Corpus Christi crosses home plate at 6:05, pre-game coverage kicks off at 5:35.
If for some reason you miss the pre-game segment of all the ‘Riders wishing their dad’s a happy Father’s Day but would like to hear it, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send you the .mp3 version.
Talk with you tonight,