Father's Day to take center stage
Arizona's Lopez, Florida St.'s Martin set to hit field with sons
OMAHA, Neb. -- Catching a College World Series game in Omaha is great way to spend Father’s Day with your dad, but for a few select baseball families, the extra-special day will be spent on the field at TD Ameritrade Park.
It may not be the typical “get your dad a new tie” way to spend Father’s Day, but the Martin and Lopez families wouldn’t have it any other way.
Florida State head coach Mike Martin, and his son and assistant coach Mike, Jr., are participating in their seventh CWS together.
Twice, in 1994 and 1995, the younger Martin was the Seminoles’ catcher on his father’s teams that made the trek to Omaha, while the father-son duo have made five CWS appearances as colleagues on the FSU coaching staff.
“Family is very important to us even though we’re in business together, so to speak,” Martin, Jr., said. “It’s kind of difficult because we’re either here playing or I’m out recruiting, but you shouldn’t pass up the opportunity to spend time with family.”
Martin, Jr.’s two sons -- Tyler (10) and T.J. (8) -- are fixtures in the Florida State dugout and will be joining their father and ABCA Hall of Fame grandfather for the Seminoles’ elimination game against Stony Brook on Sunday afternoon. Martin, Jr., remembers sitting in the dugout while his father coached, and having his sons with him at games gives him a special perspective.
“It’s really special to have them with me at the games,” Martin, Jr. said. “If you win, it is fun to have them celebrate with you and share in the excitement. If you lose, they just want you to be ‘Dad’, and that makes it a lot easier.”
For Arizona head coach Andy Lopez, this year’s Father’s Day will be a little bittersweet. While he’ll have his sons Michael and David -- both current Wildcat players -- by his side, it will be his first time in Omaha without his father, Art, being alive. Art, who immigrated to Southern California from Mexico at the age of 12, had a passion for baseball, which he passed down to his son.
“I’ve got so many good memories of my father -- he was such a good influence in my life,” Andy Lopez said. “But, it’s been a blessing to have my sons with me.”
Michael is a redshirt junior and a member of the Wildcat bullpen on his father’s team, while David is a redshirt sophomore and back-up infielder.
“While they’ve been with me on every trip, but now here they are and factors in the program. They’re on the club and with their peers trying to win a national championship.”
While this is the Lopez’ sixth appearance in the College World Series, his 1996 trip as the head coach at Florida stands out his favorite Father’s Day memory in Omaha.
“When I moved from Los Angeles to Gainesville, it was a tough move because I am so close with my family,” Andy Lopez said. "In 1996, my second year at Florida, we were fortunate to go to Omaha and play well. It was a joy because I was able to bring my dad and mom out, and we spent Father’s Day together. That’s probably the one that sticks out the most because from that point on my dad’s health started to deteriorate a little bit. I reflect on that quite a bit.”
While Kent State is not playing on Sunday, pitching coach Mike Birkbeck and his son John also deserve a Father’s Day mention. The elder Birkbeck is in his 15th season as the pitching coach for the Golden Flashes. John is a freshman on the Kent State squad, and has made 12 appearances on the mound, but has not pitched yet in the NCAA postseason.