CLEVELAND -- Chris Perez's father, Tim, refuses to watch his son pitch in the Major Leagues.Well, that's not entirely true. Tim's watched Chris pitch plenty of times on TV. But when he's in attendance at a big league ballpark and his son is on the mound, Tim leaves the stands.
"He never watches it live, because he gets too nervous," Chris said with a smile. "I get up, and he goes out and watches it in the bathrooms or concourse on closed-circuit TVs. I guess that's just his nervous energy. You'd think he'd be used to it by now, but he's not."Tim might not be committed to his seat at a ballpark, but he taught his son plenty about commitment to the task at hand. And the rule about finishing what you start, passed down from father to son, is a major reason why Chris is now in the big leagues, pitching in a prominent role out of the Indians' bullpen. Sports were a major part of Tim's youth. He played high school football and junior college baseball. When Chris was born, Tim obviously wanted to pass along his love of sports to his child. "He always played catch with me and pushed athletics on me when I was a kid," Chris said. "But not just baseball. I played everything growing up -- soccer, basketball, football, racquetball, all that stuff. I always wanted to do more, and he never said no." Never saying no meant being there to watch Chris grow as an athlete and a competitor. "If I wanted to take batting practice for three hours in the cage, he'd throw it to me," Chris said. "If I wanted to play catch, he'd be outside there with me. He never signed me up for teams I didn't want to play for or anything like that. When the Rays started playing, he took me to Spring Training games and showed me his passion for the game and taught me a lot." But the No. 1 lesson that Tim taught his son was to never quit, to never shy away from or shirk responsibilities. As Chris got better and better at baseball, more and more opportunities came his way. Little League teams gave way to AAU travel squads. Practice became less of a diversion from the world of homework and chores and more of an obligation. To put it simply, Chris had what amounted to his first real job. And when he tried to rebel against it, his father set him straight. "I remember," Chris said, "telling him one summer, when I was probably 13, 'I've got too much to do. I don't want to do it. I want to play video games.' " Tim wouldn't hear it. "He'd say, 'You're already committed,' " Chris recalled. "'You're expected to be there, and you have to do it.' " Dedication and a strong work ethic had helped Tim build a successful construction business -- Perez Tile & Construction in Bradenton, Fla. -- out of college. When the business was just getting started, Tim would work full days in the field, then come home and do the company's paperwork. By comparison, baseball seems much easier. But the message Chris was given from his dad, he would later learn, can be applied to all aspects of his life. "Once you're committed to something, you're in," Chris said. "I used to try to get out of practice all the time, because I thought it was just so boring. But once I said yes, that was it. I had to be there. And that's not just in baseball but in everything. When you commit to something, you have to not only just be there but get something out of it." Turns out, it was a good thing Chris didn't blow off baseball practice to play video games. Because look where he is today. And as Father's Day approached, he reflected on his father's influence in getting him here. "He definitely instilled in me the mentality of using every day to get better," Chris said. Now if only Tim could muster up the strength to watch his son pitch in person.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.