Sunday, June 18, 2006

Happy Father's Day: Grilli Enjoys Rare Situation

Happy Father's day to Steve Grilli. I'm sure it's got to be one of his better ones.

Grilli, who pitched for the Tigers in the mid-70's, now has the joy of watching his son Jason pitch for them -- and for a first-place club. No such luck for dad, who was a Tigers hurler during some dark days, brightened only by Mark Fidrych's dream season of 1976.

Jason wears dad's #49, and is the spitting image of him in the face. He had one bad game -- June 4 against Boston when he walked a bunch and hit a batter -- but mostly he's been trustworthy, especially for a long relief man, as is his charge.

Like father, like son: Steve (left) and Jason Grilli

It's a great story, to me, whenever a father sees his son play the same sport in the same city in which he excelled. The Griffeys come to mind, of course. They played together in Seattle, and now Junior roams the outfield in Cincinnati, where his dad enjoyed success with the Big Red Machine teams.

But usually the father/son, same city thing is elusive. The Tigers had two Joe Colemans -- both pitchers, and now they have the Grillis. Typically, however, you have a father/son thing like the Ray Boone/Bob Boone scenario -- where dad and son star in different cities. Of course, with Ray, there's a grandfather/grandson storyline, thanks to Aaron and Brett.

The older Grilli runs a bar in upstate New York, where the dish is always pointed toward Tigers games, as you can imagine. No doubt Steve Grilli winced as he saw his son struggle against the Red Sox, and maybe he cursed with Jason as the umpire squeezed the strike zone against him in Toronto last Sunday. And also doubtless that it's harder for Steve Grilli to watch his son pitch than it was to actually be a pitcher in the big leagues. Such is the doting dad's dilemma.

When Gordie Howe signed with the WHA's Houston Aeros in 1973, enabling him to play with sons Mark and Marty, he said with a smile, "I'll be a protective father."

But Gordie was able to do something about it on the ice. For the faraway dad, watching on a satellite dish hundreds of miles away, the feeling of empowerment is as thin as the stitching on a baseball.


Blogger Ian C. said...

Tim Kurkjian had a nice feature about baseball fathers and sons on "Baseball Tonight." I'd forgotten that Ken Griffey Jr. and Sr. hit back-to-back homers for Seattle back in 1989. That was a special moment.

10:05 AM  
Blogger Ozz said...

I've got that old Steve Grilli card.

2:21 PM  

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