Baseball a family affair for Lincecums
Giants' Tim adopted father's pitching mechanics early on
SAN FRANCISCO -- Tim Lincecum is San Francisco's favorite new kid, but the kid already has a dad -- and a pretty great one at that.Lincecum's first Father's Day present to his dad, Chris, was himself. He was born two days before Father's Day -- June 15, 1984 -- and things have been going pretty well for the two ever since. Chris began teaching his son how to master pitches at age 6, while most kids Lincecum's age were just trying to master bikes without training wheels. Chris taught his sons, Tim and older brother Sean, how to pitch with mechanics he built himself and how to keep their core muscles strong to avoid an injury. Chris' technique turned Lincecum into arguably the most effective rookie in the Majors and allowed him to do it all without ever needing to ice his arm after a game. The mechanics that Chris crafted are often compared to Sandy Koufax's delivery, but Chris didn't borrow from Koufax or any other pro pitcher. He simply crafted the most effective way to throw a baseball. The delivery is over the top, like Koufax, but that's about the only similarity, Chris says. The rest of Lincecum's delivery offers a glimpse at some of the greatest pitchers of all time. Lincecum loads like Bob Feller or Warren Spahn, is loose like Satchel Paige and releases like Bob Gibson. Lincecum's rocket-launching delivery is comparable to many impressive names, but the style Lincecum's pitching most resembles is his father's. Chris started building the mechanics that he would one day impart on his sons when he was 13 years old. A pitcher himself, Chris was constantly perfecting his mechanics. He continued perfecting them even after a broken back put an end to his professional dreams at age 21. It was almost as if Chris knew that he would one day have two sons with incredible pitching potential. Chris taught his oldest son, Sean, how to pitch first. Sean had the makings of a pro pitcher, Chris said, but broke his arm twice playing football. When Tim Lincecum was 3, he started watching his dad and older brother practicing on the mound in the backyard.
"When he was teaching my brother the mechanics, I was that little kid watching and trying to copy what they were doing," Lincecum said. "I wasn't throwing hard enough to break a pane of glass."Lincecum was throwing harder soon enough and excelling in every sport he tried. Chris describes his son playing youth sports like only a father can, and suddenly an 11-year-old Tim Lincecum sounds a little like Steve Nash on the court or Jim Edmonds in the outfield. Lincecum was a star athlete, and his father was there coaching him in any sport he wanted to learn. There was baseball, football, basketball and golf. Chris was there for many memorable moments, so it's surprising which moment sticks out in Chris' memory. Lincecum was a good basketball player and usually on the court, but Chris remembers a rare occasion when his son was sent to the bench. Instead of adding another dejected face, Lincecum jumped on his chair and started cheering the loudest. Chris is most proud of that kid who gives everything he has, whether he's on the bench or the mound. "The kid is one long strip of hard leather," Chris said. It's Lincecum's effort on the mound that lets the nation see what Chris does, a kid that puts his heart into every pitch he throws and everything he tries. "Tim uses all 174 pounds of his body. He uses everything from his toes to his fingertips -- feet, ankles, knees, hips, chest, shoulders, elbow and wrist on every pitch. That's why he's so great," Chris said. Lincecum gets more than his delivery from his dad. He also inherited some impressive physical abilities that allow him to do back and front flips from a standstill and walk on his hands. His flexibility has no doubt helped his pitching, but Lincecum's success can't be passed off as genetic luck. "The mechanics of baseball isn't luck," Chris said. "He worked hard, stayed out of trouble and did it on his own. He's a little bit almost too good to be true." Chris lives in Washington and doesn't get to see his son pitch in person as much as he would like, but he's made it to all his son's debuts, at every level from Little League to Major League. Chris would probably like to be at more games, but he's never worried about not being there because he knows his son and he knows he has nothing to worry about. "He makes me look good because he is that nice," Chris said. "He turned out better than me."
Becky Regan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.