Scott carrying on Van Slyke baseball tradition
Outfielder learned lots from Dad growing up immersed in game
LOS ANGELES -- Whether Scott Van Slyke becomes the ballplayer his dad was, he's just as determined to be the father to his son that Andy has been to him.
"As a father, he instilled a lot of his values in us early on," said Scott, a Dodgers outfielder and one of four Van Slyke brothers.
"Being a baseball kid, you don't get to see your dad like a kid whose father has a 9-to-5 job and he's home for dinner every night. There were a lot of long road trips, offseason workouts. So I think the time he was with us made a lot of memories for us.
"And he never brought the baseball game home with him. You never knew if he went 4-for-4 or 0-for-4. Having a son now, I get where he came from with that. It's easy to get in the car and be angry. He taught us to be better than that."
Scott and wife Audrey have a son, Jackson, born last summer. Scott was born in 1986, Andy's fourth season with the St. Louis Cardinals in a 13-year career that ended in 1995 and included three All-Star Game appearances, five Gold Gloves and two Silver Sluggers. In 1992, Andy was runner-up for the National League batting title while leading the league in hits and doubles.
Scott remembers Dad's glory years as the Pittsburgh Pirates' center fielder, flanked by Barry Bonds and Bobby Bonilla. He remembers joining Dad for his appearance at the 1993 All-Star Game in Baltimore.
"As a baseball guy, he would teach us about the game, about being in the locker room, about handling success and failure," said Scott. "He was really good with that.
"I remember in Pittsburgh, Three Rivers was one of the first stadiums with a family room, and I would hang there with all the kids, and the players would come down after the game. I got pretty close to Kyle Drabek [son of Doug]. We used to cause a lot of ruckus in the family room.
"My best memory is the father-and-son baseball game we would have before a night game on the field. The dads would pitch to us; we'd play a seven-inning game. That was always fun."
Now Scott is on the other end of that. Jackson just got his first uniform, with "Dodgers" on the front and "Van Slyke" and Dad's No. 33 on the back. Scott is looking forward to that first family game when he can pitch to his son the way his dad did to him.
And if Jackson follows Scott in the family business, Dad will try to strike the balance his father has.
"Dad comes to games, but for the most part, he lets me be myself," said Scott. "He stayed out of the picture, but after watching me struggle the first three or four years in the Minors, he saw what was going on and stepped in and helped me out.
"The most recent text I got a week ago, he told me, 'Don't forget, you can still get singles.' Watching from a distance, he sees something here and there. But mostly he checks on how the family is. Now he's a great grandpa."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.