Holt appreciates father letting him take his own path
New left fielder's dad never played baseball, remained supportive
Joel Holt is a bit of a rarity -- the father of a Major League Baseball player who didn't play the game at all himself.
Though Joel Holt might not know all the nuances of the game Brock Holt is making a living out of, he long ago knew about the fire in his son's belly and how nothing would stop him if only he got the chance.
Brock Holt has at last gotten that opportunity at the age of 26, and he's making his father smile proudly with each line drive.
This Father's Day will be one of the most gratifying ones yet for Joel. He will sit on his most comfortable couch or chair at his house in Stephenville, Texas, and enjoy the company of his 94-year-old father. The two of them will turn on the television and watch Brock Holt lead off and play left field for the Boston Red Sox.
"We're really proud of him," Joel Holt said. "Since he was a little boy, he said, 'I'm going to be a pro baseball player,' and everybody would go, 'Yeah, sure.' But he had a goal and he got to it, so it's really something."
Entering action on Thursday, Brock Holt was hitting .331. When Will Middlebrooks went to the disabled list, Holt took over at third base. Then he spent some time at first base while Mike Napoli was in his final stages on the disabled list. And of late, Holt has moved to another new position -- left field.
In other words, manager John Farrell is getting creative with his defensive alignments to keep Holt's bat in the lineup.
"It's been unbelievable, just knowing the struggles he went through," Joel Holt said. "We were talking the other day -- every one of them has a story to tell, every player. But Brock, it's been kind of special. He's kind of had to prove himself at every level. It's really been special seeing what he's doing."
Brock Holt doesn't discount the steadying presence his father has always had on him, not to mention the example he has set.
"He never played baseball," Brock said. "He never pushed me in any direction to do anything. He let me make my own decision. He just enjoyed watching me grow up, and I ended up choosing baseball, and now he's a huge baseball fan and he never missed a game and they watch me every night. I'm extremely lucky, just the way he raised us growing up, the example that he set, not only the things he taught us, but the way he lived his life and treated other people and the way he loved my mom. He taught us so many things about how we should be -- especially me and my brother as men."
Just because Joel Holt wasn't a baseball player doesn't mean he wasn't an athlete.
"My dad, he played football, ran track, played basketball, he did all the sports but baseball," Brock said. "You hear about some dads, 'I played football, my son is going to play football,' this and that. He never did that.
"I played football in high school and, of course, he liked going to the games. I played my freshman year and then quit. Whenever I told him, 'Hey, I don't want to play football anymore,' he said, 'Hey, it's your life, you do what you want to do.' But yeah, he was great, man. He's still a huge influence on me. Any time he gets to come up and watch games and I get to spend time with him is a special time."
The next time that will happen is in late June, when Joel and Brock's mom, GayLynn, will travel to Yankee Stadium to watch their son play in one of the great rivalries in sports.
Until then, Brock will talk to his dad by phone and even enjoy Joel's newfound use of technology, though that is a work in progress.
"He's finally starting to learn how to text message," Brock said. "He'll send me a text message every now and then. His text messages are short. One text message like, 'That a boy,' or something like that. My mom will send me a text every day."
Yet Brock Holt knows what his dad is thinking even when he doesn't hear from him directly. The two have always had that kind of relationship.
"Brock is like me," Joel said. "His mother just goes nuts because our characteristics are exactly the same. I know he's my son because he acts just like me. It drives his wife crazy, and it drives my wife crazy. So really our relationship, we think the same thing about everything. We know how each other is going to react to something and what we're thinking all the time."
The reason Joel Holt is so enjoying the success his son is having is because he knows what type of man he raised.
"Growing up, he was a model son," Joel Holt said. "He never gave any trouble. We've always had a good time. It's funny he's getting a little fanfare now and people actually know who he is."