From Little League to the Show for Daley
Rockies pitcher used baseball to bond with father
DENVER -- Rockies right-handed reliever Matt Daley has experienced successes and tribulations in his short time in the Majors. All along the way, and before, his mentor and partner has been his father, John Daley.
Last year, he lived the classic "overnight success story" that took five years to write. Undrafted out of Bucknell University in 2004, Daley produced beneath the radar throughout the Minors and earned a Major League opportunity last April.
With the exception of an injury when he accidentally stepped on a bat while backing up home plate, the year went smoothly (1-1, 4.24 ERA). This year, he began with nine straight scoreless appearances, gave up seven runs and 11 hits in 10 appearances, and spent two weeks in the Minors before returning.
The lessons dad taught are principles he needs every day.
Here's what Daley has learned from his dad about ...
Teamwork: "He was my Little League coach growing up. He always stressed for us that it's all about playing for your team, playing for your teammates, and making sure you have fun at the same time. It's not all about wins and losses at that level. You need to have fun and play the game the right way.
"I guess I could have been a little brat at times. I used to get pretty upset when I would get out. I'd throw my helmet. I remember anytime I did that, he would get on me immediately and tell me, 'That's not the right way to play the game. It's a game of failure. You're going to get out. When you do, you have to take it like a man and have good sportsmanship.'"
Success: "What I learned from him was success is what you strive for. You want to be successful in life, but you can't let it change who you are. You can't get too high, you can't get too low. When you let success get to your ego, you end up not being a good person. You really need to keep that in check. You have to know who you are."
Fairness: "That was his strength. He treated every kid the same. Whether it was me, his son, or any other kid, there was no preferential treatment at all. He really tried to instill values not only in me but everyone else. Preferential treatment is unfair to everyone. You treat everyone the right way. Somebody might not be the best player in the world, but they have a lot to offer in other aspects. So I tried to keep that my entire life and try to learn from everyone I come across."
Failure: "That's probably where he's helped me the most. When he talked about success and not letting it go to your head, I'm pretty good at that. But with failure, I can get on myself pretty hard. No one expects more out of me than me.
"A lot of times I'll call him after struggling on the mound and he'll put me in the right place. He'll say, 'You know what? It's just one outing. Don't let it get you too low. Next time out you're going to do what you need to do.'
"After I got sent down, he was the first call. I wanted to tell him what would happen, what the deal was, and he put me in my place. He just said, 'It's not what you expected to happen but now you've got to make the best of what happened. You've got to do down there and work on what you need to work on and hopefully you'll be back up soon.' So it was nice to be able to call him and have him put everything into perspective."
Family: "We would talk about it at home, but there needs to be the coach-player relationship and father-son relationship, and he was good at just saying, 'Leave it at the park. We'll talk about it afterward a little bit, but once we're done talking about it, it's over.' Then we'd get on with our normal day.
"Probably the most enjoyable times I had with him were watching football in the offseason. We both love the Giants. That's our time. During the season, he's watching me all the time. I get the butterflies and he gets the butterflies when I come in. But during the offseason we get to unwind and just completely be fans. That's a lot more fun and a lot more relaxed atmosphere.
"It's a good bond, to both like the same team. And even if it's making of one another, it's a good thing, too. Growing up, I liked the Mets and he liked the Yankees."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.