Batting practice session big hit with KC dads
Hall of Famer Brett throws session as Royals players cheer them on
CLEVELAND -- If you think the fathers of Royals players are happy about having their sons playing in the Major Leagues, consider this: On Monday, the dads themselves got to take batting practice at Progressive Field with Hall of Famer George Brett throwing the pitches.
"I imagine most of the dads had never taken BP on a Major League Baseball field, especially getting thrown to by George Brett," second baseman Chris Getz said. "Everybody was laughing, having a great time. A lot of pictures, some video and some surprisingly decent swings."
More than 20 players' dads are on this first-ever Royals fathers trip to Tampa Bay and Cleveland. They got in some swings during a special session at mid-afternoon on Monday before the series opener against the Indians.
"It went better than they expected, because a lot of 'em went out there without a lot of confidence," Getz said. "Maybe a handful, but every dad that went out there eventually made contact. Some did right away, some it took a few swings. There were no casualties or injuries -- to this point. Tomorrow morning things may change."
His father, Art Getz, was among the participants and he tried one of his son's moves.
"He tried to lay down a bunt his first time, so that got a good reaction from the team," Getz said.
Robert Johnson, father of infielder Elliot Johnson, took some mighty hacks.
"He fell short of hitting it out, just by the slimmest of margins that you could imagine," his son said, tongue firmly in cheek. "If you were looking down from Google maps and you hadn't clicked down all the way, it was just a very, very small margin."
It's harder than it looks, the dads learned first-hand.
"It wasn't pretty, let's just say that," said Mike Hosmer, father of first baseman Eric Hosmer. "It was not pretty."
Brian Hochevar, father of pitcher Luke Hochevar, is a high school coach at Knoxville, Tenn., so he's used to hitting fungoes to players all the time. But this was different.
"Tossing it up and hitting it is a lot easier than the ball coming at you," Brian Hochevar said. "But it was a blast, it was really fun. I'll feel it tomorrow, but it was really fun."
There were some standouts, though, including Jose Chen and Larry Collins, fathers of pitchers Bruce Chen and Tim Collins.
"Mr. Chen stole the show," Elliot Johnson said. "He really hit the ball. He had the largest collection of hits out of the entire group. And Mr. Collins was second, he had the highest percentage of balls into the outfield grass, especially coming from his Irish short stature. He certainly put on a great show."
Manager Ned Yost, doing a little scouting, liked the swings of Jose Chen, Brian Hochevar and Alfredo Mendoza.
"I think Chen's dad can hit the ball farther than Chen can," Yost said.
Bruce Chen did not argue the point.
"The first swing, he just smokes one," Chen said. "It was just cool. All my teammates were cheering. Everyone was like wow, impressed. It made him feel real good. It was probably HIS highlight of the trip, which has been a tremendous trip."
"Chen's father was very good. Power and a good stance," pitcher Luis Mendoza said. "My father just had a good stance. He was a line drive hitter, handled the bat pretty well. He was disappointed because it was just one round. He wanted to take two or three. But he was happy."
And Brett just kept throwing, enjoying the experience.
"George is not just a great Hall of Famer and a great former player, but he's a great person. That's what I'm impressed with," Brian Hochevar said.
It was another big day for the players' pops.
"They're living the life for a little bit," Getz said. "It's cool that the Royals put this together. It's pretty unique."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.