Fathers pass down many traditions to their children, especially their love of sports. So what better way is there for college baseball players to show their appreciation than getting the chance to play in the College World Series during Father’s Day weekend?
Players and coaches reflected on Friday what it means to them to attend college baseball’s biggest stage in front of their fathers.
Oklahoma State coach Josh Holliday remembers the chance he had to play for his father Tom Holliday during his coaching days with the Pokes. The Hollidays and Oklahoma State made the program’s last trip to Omaha in 1999.
“I can remember that almost like it was yesterday. It’s hard to believe it’s been 17 years,” Josh said.
“I think it’s pretty neat to coach at a place you played at and to get to care about a program that your family cared about. It’s pretty cool that my dad and I both been able to be the head coach at Oklahoma State and bring teams to the College World Series. I’m not sure how many else can claim that. It’s something we’re proud of.”
The Hollidays aren’t the only father-son connection on the team. Attending the CWS with Oklahoma State is also a family affair for the Walton family.
Pitching coach Rob Walton played for Oklahoma State from 1982-86 and pitched a complete game in the 1986 College World Series. Now his son Donnie Walton gets to share that experience with his father as a senior for the Pokes.
“To wear the same uniform as him already throughout the whole year is crazy. A lot of kids can’t say they’ve done it,” Donnie said. “Now to share that moment in Omaha on Father’s Day it makes it that much more special.”
Lots of fathers and sons making memories at the @NCAACWS, perhaps none more than these two from #okstate @DWalt05 pic.twitter.com/7Znz8yPJSn— Cowboy Baseball (@OSUBaseball) June 16, 2016
Miami catcher Zack Collins shared a special moment with his father Pat Collins when the Chicago White Sox selected him as the 10th overall pick in this year’s MLB Draft.
“I asked him the other day what he wanted for Father’s Day and he said I already gave him his gift. I’m probably going to give him a little something else. But I mean it was great moment for us. He’s been with me through the ins and outs ever since I was three years old. That was pretty much what we worked for and now it’s time to win a national championship.”
An incredible moment with special people, there's nothing like it. pic.twitter.com/vGUY9aVv9q— Hurricanes Baseball (@CanesBaseball) June 10, 2016
Texas Tech senior Cory Raley’s father and brothers all played collegiate baseball. Dad Terry attended St. Mary’s and spent a few years in the Toronto Blue Jays organization. Brothers Russell and Brooks played at Oklahoma and Texas A&M respectively before each were drafted by the New York Yankees and the Chicago Cubs.
Something Cory can say he accomplished that his family hadn’t yet? He’ll have the chance to play in the College World Series.
“I’m the first one. Everyone is kind of giving my other brothers a hard time. It took the third child to get here so my parents can finally come to Omaha,” Raley joked.
“But no, I’m super excited. I know he’s excited to get here and see some games.”
TCU pitcher Mitchell Traver not only found the perfect Father's Day gift with a trip to Omaha but a birthday one as well for his dad John, whose birthday is June 17.
“He’s a big baseball guy and has been with me through every step of the way. I remember talking to my mom a month ago and like if we go to Omaha, obviously we know how that works and if we don’t, maybe we can do the other. I think we all prefered this," Traver said.
State playoffs in Little League to the 2016 Super Regional at Texas A&M. Nearly a decade between… https://t.co/ohzWzv0sav— Mitchell Traver (@Mitchell_Traver) June 17, 2016
Florida starting pitcher Logan Shore also gave his father quite an incredible birthday present. Lance Shore's birthday coincided with the 2016 MLB Draft when Logan was selected by the Oakland A's in the second round.
"He’s going to be here on Sunday and I’m from Minnesota so it’s just a couple of hours drive for my family. Especially having him here is going to be pretty special," Logan said. "Nothing like me getting drafted and then Father’s Day being on Sunday me pitching then. It’s pretty cool."
The drive to Omaha will be a little further for the family of Coastal Carolina's GK Young. Young grew up in Conway, South Carolina, where the campus is located. His father is traveling nearly 20 hours from the Palmetto State to Omaha to see his son play on Sunday against Florida
“My dad is my best friend honestly. He’s been my coach since I was little. No matter what, I call my dad when I don’t feel right with my swing. He knows it better than I do," Young said. "So for me to be here on Father’s Day to play in front of him, it’s pretty amazing.”
A few players unfortunately won’t be able to see their dads in the stands in TD Ameritrade Park. But players like Young's teammate Mike Morrison are just happy to have their support.
“He’s a very emotional guy, he was in tears. He’s so excited. He can’t come because of work but he get to watch on TV and listen to the radio,” Morrison said. “He called me three or four times crying and leaves me messages.”
For all Dads out in #chantnation - thank you and Happy Father's Day! pic.twitter.com/auIowbaDCG— Coastal Baseball (@CoastalBaseball) June 19, 2016