Affeldt's father taught him about life, baseball

Affeldt's father taught him about life, baseball

Affeldt's father taught him about life, baseball
SAN FRANCISCO -- Jeremy Affeldt's father didn't push him toward the Major Leagues, yet he still led his son along the path toward the bigs.

"He wasn't a guy who knew a lot about baseball to be able to teach it," Affeldt said. "But he was always very supportive of me."

When Affeldt played an interscholastic or youth league game, David Affeldt showed up to watch him. When the younger Affeldt wanted to take batting practice, his father pitched and helped gather the balls strewn about the field. Sensing Jeremy's desire to work on his pitching, the elder Affeldt would drop into a catcher's squat, sometimes with unpleasant results.

"I'd hit him in the shins," Affeldt said. "I remember one got by him and went through one of our windows."

Whatever it took, David Affeldt did what he could to fulfill Jeremy's baseball ambitions. Affeldt's 11 seasons in the Major Leagues speak volumes about his father's support. Affeldt, one of the leading members of the Giants' bullpen, remains thankful for "having a dad who gave me the opportunity to have those kinds of situations in life where I used to just play -- and the ability to dream."

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As a bombardier who flew B-52s in the U.S. Air Force, David was obliged to move from time to time. Jeremy was born in Phoenix, but the family was stationed in Guam for three years, beginning when he was in second grade. Jeremy was in middle school when the Affeldts moved to Merced, Calif., a little more than 100 miles east of San Francisco. David Affeldt occasionally brought Jeremy to see the Giants play at Candlestick Park, but more often, they watched the A's at the Oakland Coliseum. There, Jeremy was captivated by A's stars such as sluggers Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco, as well as ace right-hander Dave Stewart.

One day when they were sitting together at the Coliseum, Jeremy told his dad, "I'm going to play here one day." As Jeremy recalled, "He just kind of patted me on the head and said, 'Go for it.' I don't think he really thought it was going to happen."

Years passed, and the Affeldts moved to Spokane, Wash., in 1993 when David retired from the Air Force. Four years later, the Kansas City Royals selected Jeremy in the third round of the First-Year Player Draft. He rose steadily through their farm system and made his big league debut in 2002.

Later that year when the Royals played at Oakland, Affeldt was compelled to call his dad and point out that he was at the Coliseum, which they had visited together.

"I remember taking you there," David Affeldt said.

"Yeah, but do you remember what I said here?" asked Jeremy.

"I don't know what you're talking about," David said.

As Jeremy recalled, "I said, 'Dad, I see the seats that we were sitting in when I told you I was going to play here one day.'"

Their phone connection was suddenly severed. Jeremy assumed that his dad hung up on him for some reason. He called back and his mother, Charlotte, answered.

"Your dad started crying," she said, explaining the sudden disruption.

David Affeldt might feel even prouder to know the extent of the influence he has had on Jeremy, who's in his fourth season with the Giants.

Jeremy said that his father taught him the importance of maintaining a strong work ethic and respecting rank. The young Affeldt never missed a practice, reflecting the first value. Upon reaching the Majors and joining the veteran-laden Royals, he practiced the second value by looking up to teammates such as Mike Sweeney, Roberto Hernandez, Carlos Beltran, Raul Ibanez and many others.

"Just to have him ingrain those things in me was big," Affeldt said.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.