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.