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The New York Times has an interesting story in today’s paper about Barry Zito’s dad, who sounds like a bit of a character, as my mom would say.

Joe Zito, it seems, was a pretty good musician — he was a conductor and arranger for Nat King Cole — but didn’t know anything about sports until he had kids. He and his wife (a former member of Cole’s backup group) let their children develop their own interests. Barry liked to throw things.

Their first daughter, Bonnie, would do chores around the house and then present her parents with a bill for her work. She became an accountant. Their second daughter, Sally, would play with her father’s musical equipment. She started a band.

Their only son, Barry, threw rocks at a clothesline in the yard. He would aim for the clothespins and knock them to the ground. “I noticed it,” Joe said. “But I didn’t know what to make of it.”

Joe decided to encourage Barry’s talent. He signed his son up for little league. He played catch with him in the backyard and bought a book on pitching. All pretty standard dad stuff.

But then the story gets a little strange.

With Roberta working as an ordained minister, Joe decided that the best way to help his son was to quit his job. He was going to become a full-time pitching coach, with no experience and only one pupil. “He gave up his music for me,” Barry said.

Is that normal? Do a lot of major league pitchers have stories about how their families changed their entire lives around in order to nurture their son’s talent? Is that what it takes to get one’s kid to the big leagues?

If so…well, my kids better start thinking about what it’s going to be: med school or law school. Because a career as a major league pitcher is probably not going to happen.

6 Responses to “Father Knows Best”

  1. Sarah Green says:

    It’s just like the Williams sisters’ dad, Coley. Or Beyonce’s dad, or Britney’s mom. Or any of them. It’s not that we’re underachievers. It’s just that our parents aren’t, you know, psycho.

  2. Nick Kapur says:

    It took Sarah’s picture of JD Drew with a dirtstained shirt and her observation that both Drew and Trot Nixon have the same number, but finally something clicked in my lil ol’ brain. At least injury-wise, aren’t Drew and Nixon eeriely the same player?

    JD Drew and Trot Nixon both became fulltime starters eight years ago, in 1999. But whereas Drew quickly aquired a reputation for being “injury-prone,” Nixon became known as a “hard-nosed hustler” type of player. But if we look at the number of games played by each player over their eight full seasons in the majors, we find that while JD Drew has averaged 118 games played per season, Trot Nixon has averaged . . . 120 games played per season.

    Of course, Drew has a much higher batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage over those eight seasons.

  3. Sarah Green says:

    Nick, with your arsenal of baseball knowledge, surely you must know of some vast, Bill-Jamesian database where we can see how many times (on average) each player crashed into the wall.

    We can always go ahead with our diabolical plan of platooning Nixon and Drew in right….whichever one isn’t injured, plays.

  4. Coley Ward says:

    Nick, you forgot to mention that both J.D. and Trot are uber-Christians.

    But there is one important difference between J.D. and Trot: Trot is not a dick!

    Also, Trot wants to finish his career with the Sox, the only team he’s ever played for, while J.D. has consistently followed the money since the day he was drafted.

  5. Sarah Green says:

    Also, Trot has a lovely wife, Kathryn, who runs the Boston Marathon for charity.

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