by Paul Knepper
Whether it’s having a catch in the backyard or watching a football game together, fathers and sons have bonded over sports for generations. Many professional athletes still call their fathers after a big game and look to them for guidance and approval. Those athletes pass on the love of sports to their own sons. Occasionally, a ballplayer is fortunate enough to have his father or son present or even involved with the greatest moments of his career and those occasions often make for some of the most touching and memorable moments in sports.
These are the ten most memorable father-son moments in sports.
10) Robinson Cano’s father pitching to him at the Home Run Derby
The Yankees second baseman flew his father Jose in from the Dominican Republic to pitch to him in the Home Run Derby last month. Jose, who pitched six games for the Astros in 1989, clearly knew his son’s sweet spot. Robinson jacked 12 bombs in the final round, a derby record, to beat Red Sox first baseman Adrain Gonzalez and win the competition. The younger Cano was beaming as he and his father shared a victory embrace.
9) William Ligue Jr. and his son attacking Tom Gamboa
Not all memorable father-son moments are uplifting. In September 2002, William Ligue Jr. and his teenage son ran onto the field at Chicago’s Comiskey Park and attacked Kansas City Royals first base coach Tom Gamboa for no apparent reason. Fortunately, Gamboa didn’t receive any major injuries.
8) Mark McGwire lifting his son after breaking the home run record
Ten-year old Mark McGwire was a part-time bat boy for the St. Louis Cardinals in the summer of 1998 when his father Mark was chasing Roger Maris’ home run record. When Big Mac hit number 62 off of Steve Traschel of the Cubs on September 8th at the old Busch Stadium, Matt was the first person to greet him at home plate. Mark hoisted his jubilant son over his head like a baby.
7) Dusty Baker watching his son almost get run over at home
Giants Manager Dusty Baker made his 3 1/2 year old son Darren a bat boy for the 2002 World Series. When Kenny Lofton tripled in the gap in the seventh inning of Game 5 with two men on, Darren went to retrieve the bat and almost got run over at the plate by J.T. Snow, who was scoring from second. Snow grabbed Darren by his jacket and carried him to safety as an embarrassed Dusty shook his lowered head in the dugout.
6) Pat Cash climbing into the stands after winning Wimbledon
In what has since become a tradition at the All England Club, Australian Pat Cash was so elated after knocking off Ivan Lendl in the 1987 Wimbledon final that he felt compelled to climb into the crowd to get to his family. By the time he reached his family’s box the entire crowd was caught up in his exuberance. Cash’s proud father was the first to greet him and gave his son a big hug.
5) The Griffeys hitting back-to-back home runs
When Ken Griffey Jr. broke into the big leagues with the Mariners in 1989, he and his father Ken Sr. became the first father-son combo to play in the Major Leagues at the same time. The two became teammates when the Mariners signed Senior in August 1990, and the highlight of the their tenure together came on September 14th when the duo became the first and only father-son combo to hit back-to-back home runs.
4) Drew Brees holding his son after winning the Super Bowl
Drew Brees capped off an M.V.P. season with a Super Bowl M.V.P. when his Saints beat the Colts in Super Bowl XLIV. During the post-game festivities Brees’ wife handed the QB his one year-old son Baylen, who looked adorable in his super-sized headphones. Cameras caught the wonderful scene of Brees holding his son as he soaked up the moment.
3) Favre’s fantastic performance the day after his father died
Brett Favre was heart broken when his father Irv died suddenly of a heart attack in December 2003, but #4 still suited up for the Packers Monday night matchup with the Raiders the following night. He said his father would have wanted him to play. Favre channeled his emotion into one of the most spectacular performances of his career throwing for 311 yards and four touchdowns in the first half in a Packers 41-7 romp.
2) Jim Craig looking for his father after winning gold
When the U.S. Olympic hockey team finished off their miraculous run at the 1980 games by defeating Finland for the Gold medal, the players jumped over the bench and embraced on the ice. Goalie Jim Craig stood alone looking off into the distance with an American flag draped around him. It’s become the enduring image from the most celebrated victory in American sports history. Nobody knew at the time that Craig was scanning the crowd for his father.
1) Derek Redmond finishing the race with his father’s help
When British sprinter Derek Redmond’s hamstring snapped with about 250 meters to go is 400 meter race at the 1992 Olympics in Bareclona, he refused to be carried off on a stretcher. Redmond continued the race, hopping on one leg, with a look of sheer agony on his face. His father Jim barged through security and ran onto the track to assist his son. Derek crossed the finish line with his arm around his father’s shoulders.
Manny Ramirez calling his dad with the Red Sox leading during Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS (which the Red Sox went on to lose) to talk about going to World Series.
Antonio Cromartie trying to name all of his kids on HBO’s Hard Knocks.
Michael Jordan telling his children “I wouldn’t want to be you if I had to” during his Hall of Fame induction speech.