SAN FRANCISCO -- Jeremy Affeldt's baseball career nearly ended shortly after it began.
Let David Affeldt, father of the Giants left-hander, tell the story that unfolded soon after the Kansas City Royals selected Jeremy in the third round of the 1997 First-Year Player Draft.
"He was being a little disrespectful and some things weren't going his way," said the elder Affeldt, who received a phone call one night from his son. Said Jeremy, "I think I'm in trouble, Dad. I think they're going to send me home."
Formerly an Air Force bombardier who flew B-52s, David Affeldt lacked an encyclopedic knowledge of baseball. But he knew plenty about discipline and respect. David told Jeremy, "They're no different from the military. They have a commander, a squadron commander and people underneath them. They don't need you running off at the mouth." Jeremy's father told him to "sit on your hands, say, 'Yes sir, no sir,' and things will work out fine."
Jeremy called his father the next night and said, "Gee, Dad, it worked, just like you said it would."
That tale illustrates just a fraction of the influence that David Affeldt had upon his son, a 13-year Major League veteran. The approach of Father's Day reminded Jeremy Affeldt of his dad's essential role in his growth, besides possibly saving his baseball career.
As Jeremy recalled, David Affeldt gave him and his sister, Nicole, the gift of experiencing much of what life can offer.
The Affeldts moved frequently during Jeremy's youth, due to David's military obligations.
"From the time I probably was in second grade until I was in fifth grade, I had seen Korea, Thailand and the Philippines," Jeremy Affeldt said. "So I had seen a lot of different things. I don't necessarily know if I understood it all at the time, but the images are still there."
Those images have deepened Affeldt's commitment to altruisic pursuits. He has actively involved himself in Not For Sale, a San Francisco-based group that fights human trafficking; his own youth ministry, Generation Alive, which is active in feeding the needy; the Jefferson Awards Students in Action Program, which recognizes San Francisco Bay Area high schoolers for their services to the community; and numerous other causes.
"As I've gotten older, I've started to understand a lot more of what I did see, and the poverty that goes on outside the United States," Jeremy Affeldt said. "And I had a lot of different opportunities to be in different cities in the United States, living in different areas, meeting different people and making friends with different people who think differently. So I kind of had a whole genre of things going on there. My dad never kept opportunities from happening. He didn't keep me from doing things. ... He likes providing experiences for people. I think that's kind of what shaped me a little bit."
Affeldt's admiration for his father has continued to grow.
"My dad sacrificed quite a bit, especially when he retired from the military," Affeldt said. "He's a military guy, so I think that was pretty hard on him. But he knew it was beneficial for me and my sister. He felt that in the high school years, it was important to be stable."
David Affeldt didn't extensively develop Jeremy's baseball skills, though he and his wife, Charlotte, realized when their son was extremely young that he could do things with his left arm most other boys couldn't.
"He was the easiest kid in the world to raise, because he just liked to sit there and throw rocks and stuff like that," David Affeldt said.
However, David Affeldt knows the challenge of snaring one of his son's difficult low throws, which Jeremy himself has nicknamed the "scud." David had the dubious distinction of trying to catch one of Jeremy's notorious scuds one afternoon when the family lived in Merced, Calif.
"We were playing catch in front of our house, and the ball bounced off the street in front of me and went through our picture window," David Affeldt said. "That was it for training on that day."
Overall, of course, Jeremy's pitching endeavors were far from over. His father remains thrilled by that.
Said David Affeldt, "What more joy can a father have than to see his son use the gift he has been given with the talent that he has?"