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Halos' Matthews to visit dad in Philly

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  • Halos' Matthews to visit dad in Philly

    Baseball has long been a game that brings fathers and sons together.

    There are simple things like playing catch in the yard or a father coaching his son in Little League. And, of course, there's a father and a son simply watching a baseball game from the stands or the living room couch.

    On Friday, however, baseball will bring a father and a son together in a different way when the Angels travel to Philadelphia.

    Angels outfielder Gary Matthews Jr. will have the chance to play in front of his father, Gary Matthews Sr., who will be in the Phillies' broadcast booth.

    Announcing the game will be a challenge for the elder Matthews, who is known as "Sarge" and played 16 seasons in the Major Leagues as an outfielder, as he must straddle the line between rooting for the hometown Phillies and his son.

    "Being with the Phillies, having played for them and being with them now, you have to be able to pull for them," Matthews Sr. said. "I'd like to see the Phillies win, and, obviously, I'd like to see junior do well."

    Matthews Jr., who has played on seven teams in his 10-year career, hasn't played a regular-season game in front of his father in almost five years. The last time was in August 2003 when Sarge was a coach with the Cubs and his son was with the Padres.

    Matthews Jr. said it won't be strange to have his father calling the game as a color commentator for Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia, instead of watching it from a coach's or spectator's perspective.

    "It's not new," Matthews Jr. said. "It's just different because my dad will be in the booth and I can't see him in the other dugout. ... It doesn't feel like a long time, but it has been."

    Even though Matthews Sr. hasn't had a chance to see his son play in person in several years because of various coaching and broadcasting jobs, it doesn't mean that he doesn't watch his son play on television as much as he can. The two are on different coasts, so the elder Matthews often can watch his son play after Phillies' games. If not, he records the games. The two also talk by phone every few days.

    It gives Matthews Sr. a chance to give his son tips on hitting, which can be a major asset coming from a former Major Leaguer who batted .281 lifetime with 234 home runs.

    "He'll watch some at-bats and critique them a little bit," Matthews Jr. said. "He'll talk about a look that I have and my mental approach that he'll see in my at-bat. He never really talks about results much as much as he'll talk about an approach or having a plan within an at-bat and during a game."

    Whatever advice Matthews Sr. has been giving his son recently, it sure has been working. After a slow start to the season, Matthews Jr. has picked it up in June, hitting .333 in 57 at-bats to raise his batting average from .215 to .244.

    Matthews Jr. has made a career of his resilience. He bounced around for five years and was selected off waivers three times and traded twice before he found a home with the Rangers for three seasons.

    "He never got discouraged," Matthews Sr. said. "He fought his way back. But everybody has a sad story, and you don't have time to dwell. Your career is so short, and you don't want that energy going that particular way."

    Staying positive paid off for Matthews Jr. in 2006, when he was named to the All-Star team with Texas and finished the season with a career-high .313 batting average, 19 home runs and 79 RBIs.

    "Him playing in the All-Star Game was a really proud moment, besides his first game in the Major Leagues," said Matthews Sr., who was an All-Star himself in 1979. "Playing in the All-Star Game and getting a hit. You really feel you've arrived at that moment."

    After his breakout season with the Rangers, Matthews Jr. signed a five-year, $50 million deal with the Angels in 2007. He said at the time that he chose the Angels because he wanted to be close to his family, including his son Gavin, who is now 9 years old.

    Matthews Jr. said he's not pushing his son to become a third-generation baseball player, though, and instead is letting his son choose his own path.

    "Gavin loves basketball right now," he said. "I just want to encourage him and let him find his passions. I'm not going to push him in any direction."

    Matthews Sr. didn't push his son toward baseball either, but without his guidance, Matthews Jr. feels like he never would have made it to the Major Leagues. But getting Matthews Sr. to admit that is almost impossible.

    "My dad doesn't really like to talk about that, and he doesn't like to take credit for what I've done in my career," Matthews Jr. said. "But I don't think there's any mistake that without my father's influence, I wouldn't be in this position. To me, he's been very influential to my career, no matter he says. He won't fess up."

    Even if Matthews Sr. never fesses up to his role in his son's success, he's happy his son has made it his far and that he gets to see him this weekend.

    "You're proud that he's in the Major Leagues and that he's accomplished what he has," Matthews Sr. said. "This is an added bonus, especially since Father's Day has just passed."

  • #2
    Nice to see the Angels sweep the NL East leading Phillies!
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