Orioles reflect on being a father

Nothing that I do in my life, nothing that’s accomplished in a press box or television booth, is more fulfilling and important to me than being a Girl Dad. My daughter is my best work.

I lost my father to cancer three years ago. He was the ideal role model. I miss him terribly and try every day to live up to his standard. To reach the bar that he raised.

Being on road trips to cover the Orioles satisfied me professionally but also hurt my heart. Six weeks at spring training felt like an eternity, no matter how much I loved Fort Lauderdale. I’d fly home and go directly from the airport to my daughter's classroom, where the teacher waved me in like a third base coach.

She’d jump in my arms – my daughter, not the teacher - and ask whether I brought T-shirts for her instructors and friends. Of course I did. I just had to take out a second mortgage.

I lifted her up when she was in fifth grade and she whispered into my ear, “Put me down, put me down.” I was embarrassing her in front of her friends. My little girl was growing up.

On this Father’s Day, I wondered what being a parent meant to some people in the Orioles organization. How it’s changed their lives. Touched their hearts.

Here are a few examples:

Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias – Evelyn, 4 ½; Sam 2 weeks:

“Obviously, it’s wonderful. I suspect that we might be landing the plane with two, but we’ll see. I don’t need to be the one to describe it. It’s certainly a special thing seeing this young person learn the world, and a person who’s a reflection of you and your spouse and their parents and their grandparents, and just seeing all of that play out in front of your eyes.

“But from a baseball sense, it’s also fun seeing a little girl that would probably have no interest in baseball, but the fact that Dad works for the Orioles and she knows all the players’ names and she gets excited about the players, and so that’s fun to see for me on a personal level, too. The relationship that young kids can develop with baseball.

“She loves (Cedric) Mullins and (Austin) Hays, and we didn’t have to teach her any of that. She picked up on the good players on the team. She pronounces Adley Rutschman’s name very well for her age. Baseball and kids and fatherhood, there’s obviously a lot of history there, and it’s fun seeing it at a personal level for myself now.”

Manager Brandon Hyde: Aria, 21; Colton, 14; Addison, 12:

“Being a dad in professional sports is extremely challenging because of the amount of time that you’re away. That’s why the offseason for me is so valuable, because you try to make up for so much of the lost time that you’re away from your family for eight months. And even when you’re with your family during that eight months, you’re not, because you’re at the ballpark 12-14 hours a day. You try to separate when you go home, but it’s hard. I try to be with my kids as much as I possibly can, just because there’s so much time lost. It’s just not easy.

“We do a good job because we’ve done this now since our kids have been babies. We try to balance it as much as we possibly can. I bring my son with me as much as I can because I think it’s really important for him to be around me, and for me to be around him. And my (youngest) daughter, as well. I try to be at as many volleyball games as I can, I try to take them to school and pick them up as much as I possibly can in the offseason, just for me to be there.

“That’s my most important job is to be a good father figure for my kids. It’s important that I’m a big part of their life.”

Reliever Jorge López – Mikael, 9:

“It’s completely changed my life. He is a responsibility. Just keep learning day by day. It’s something that I really care about, how to grow a family. Just being able to help in any situation that it is. Just be there. Baseball is a fun game and everything, but what’s more fun is being with your family, being a dad. You want to be successful for your kids and give them everything you didn’t get when you were a kid. Just give them a better life.

“It’s a huge responsibility and it’s something, it brings a lot of happiness and a lot of good memories. My dad was the same person since the first day. I don’t remember much when I was a kid, but he was there and he taught me that. Even the day he wasn’t there, he was trying. Just having that mentality of being a good father when they need you. That’s the most important thing.”

Outfielder Austin Hays – Levi, 1 ½; Hayden, 3 months:

“I think it’s just given me a sense of responsibility that I didn’t have before. It changed a little bit when I got married. Sam and my relationship grew a lot. When we had children, just putting them before myself and pretty much everything, it just changed the way I think about things, changed the way … I don’t take my job too seriously anymore. I’m able to leave whatever happens at the field here. Because no matter what, they’re happy to see me. Levi’s always got a smile on his face, whether I played good or played bad that day.

“It’s made baseball a lot easier to just accept that it is what it is. It’s a job, and I’m ready to go home to my family at the end of the day. It’s been nice to grow from that aspect. Probably my favorite thing about having kids is just the ability to enjoy my time with them when I get home and just leave baseball at the stadium.

“It’s pretty much everything I imagined. There’s some really hard times, and traveling with kids and baseball is a lot, but my wife’s done just an amazing job of making sure that, she’ll do whatever she has to do to make sure they’re around me and I get to be with them. It would be a lot easier for her to stay at home during the season and have her family around, especially with me traveling on the road for half the month, but she’s just done a great job of making sure they’re always around and I get to be around them as much as possible. It’s been everything I imagined it would be.”

Reliever Félix Bautista (via interpreter Brandon Quinones) – Xander Miguel, 2:

“It means so much. It’s changed my life in every aspect of it. I’m really proud to be a dad and be able to support my son and give him a great life going forward.”

Second baseman Rougned Odor – Emma Valentina, 4; Bianca, 1:

“It’s the best, you know? To have a kid, you don’t know how much that can change your life. It’s hard to explain how much that changes your life when you have a kid, but for me, it’s the best. It’s amazing to have my kids. I love it.

“I think that’s the most important responsibility that I have. Just to take care of my kids. Try to make them grow up the right way and try to do my best to make them learn everything.”

Reliever Cionel Pérez (via Quinones) – Cionel, 6; Genesis, 2:

“It’s a drastic change that life throws your way, but it’s a beautiful thing. They’re all the motivation I need when I go out to the field. Go out and work hard and play hard and perform the way that I do.

“It’s very difficult to be away from them, for sure, but at least they’re able to watch me on television. My wife puts on the games for them and at least they’re able to watch me in that way, so that really helps out a lot.”

Catcher Robinson Chirinos – David, 14; Julian, 4:

“That’s the best blessing we can have. Being a father and having the opportunity to guide a person and show him how to do things. It’s unbelievable. I live for my boys. Everything I do, every time I have chance, I spend with them. Just blessed to be a daddy.

“I still have my father. He lives in Venezuela. I would love to have him here, but he can’t walk, so it’s tough for him to travel. But hopefully in the offseason I’ll go over and spend time with him.”

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