Fathers Day falls smack dab in the middle of the baseball season. No matter how you slice it, the third Sunday in June is a baseball day. Some years we’re on the road, this year we’re home. It’s a fact of life for the nomads who play, manage, coach and broadcast baseball. Either we are away from our fathers or our children, obviously the ones you most want to spend the day with. Although we will be at the yard, our thoughts are with loved ones. Hopefully, after a quick game (preferably a win) we can spend time with Pop or the kids.
For a young man like Daniel Nava, a phone call will have to suffice. His father, Don is 3000 miles away in California. Despite the distance, Nava feels close to his dad. “He’s done a lot to get me where I am today. He was a football player, an athlete, so we definitely have a connection there. Off the field, he’s done a lot to make me the man I am today. We have a good relationship, a good friendship more than anything. We’re able to talk about just about anything.” Nava credited Dan Hoard and me for helping to strengthen the bond. “His connection to me is through you guys and I know he enjoys listening to you as well. I’m definitely grateful for the support I’ve had and the love I’ve had through the years.”
Lars Anderson is in a similar situation. His father George is on the West Coast, but close to Lars’ heart. “He’s one of my best friends. He’s taught me a lot about life. He’s also taught me a lot without even saying anything. I appreciate him more and more as we both age. I look back at my formative years and recall how my mom and dad were with me. Despite having their own hardships in life, they always found the time to fully commit to me as parents. It’s really awesome. I’m really happy about that.”
Unlike Nava and Anderson, Scott Atchison is both a father and son. He looks at things from both sides of the coin. He speaks of his father with respect and admiration. “He had a huge impact. He was a high school football coach. He always taught me that once you start something, you have to finish it. He gave me my work ethic. If you’re going to do something, put everything you have into it.” Scott is also the father of three year old Callie, the apple of his eye. “Fatherhood’s been great. I love my daughter to death. From a baseball standpoint, she’s made me realize that there are way more important things than what happens on the field. I recover quicker from bad outings. I go home and there she is. It really puts a smile on my face.” Atch says he will try to pass on some of the lessons he learned from his father, down to Callie. “I want to teach her and instill in her the same things. If you want ot do something, work hard, and that’s when the best things happen.”
21 year old Jose Iglesias treasures his father. Both men escaped the Castro regime in Cuba. He speaks openly about the man he cares most about. “My dad is the most important thing in my life right now, along with my baby. He was my first coach when I was a kid. I feel very happy that he is now here with me.” Fatherhood for Iglesias has been rewarding. “It’s great. It’s been a good experience. Family is the most important thing to me. I feel very happy to be with my family.”
Manager Arnie Beyeler has two children and his high school-age son, Brady is a fixture in the PawSox clubhouse during his summer vacation. “It’s cool. It’s worked out the last couple of years that he’s been able to come out and be around and hang out with me. Doing what we do, we don’t get the opportunity to be around the family and the kids very often. It’s very special to have him come out and spend time together. It’s awesome.” Beyeler downplays his role as a paternal figure to his 25 “other sons”. “I don’t know about that. You’d have to ask them. You know, we’ve got some young guys out here and every once in a while, something comes up that they need help with. Maybe you can throw something at them that will help along the way.”
Tony Pena Jr. got his love of baseball from his father, spending most of his childhood in Major League clubhouses. Tony Sr. of course, was one of the best catchers of his generation. Tony Jr. absorbed it like a sponge and his trying to pass it on to his beautiful little son, Tony III. “It was great. I learned so much being around my father and his teammates. Of course I hope I do the same thing for my boy.”
That’s what baseball should be all about. Whether it’s in a professional clubhouse or the backyard. Happy Fathers Day to all, especially my Pop, Tom Hyder.