For McClellan, game is a family affair
Relief pitcher's father has been a coach throughout life
It's great for a young player when he can have dad looking on every game, every day, at every level. It can be a little challenging, though, when dad is also the coach. But Kyle McClellan wouldn't trade the experience for anything.
McClellan had his dad, Terry, as his coach from tee ball until he started playing high school ball. And even as he was starring at Hazelwood West High in the St. Louis area, his father was always there. So as Father's Day approaches, the Cardinals rookie is proud to tip his cap to dad, who is a big part of the reason that McClellan will be spending the day on a big league roster.
"He coached me all the way up until high school," McClellan said. "He actually coached my brother's team. My brother [Matt] is six years older than me, and I was the bat boy on the team. I was like the adopted little punk kid around. So I was always around then. And he also coached my team all the way from when I was, like, three until high school. I was with him all the way through."
"I quit every year," McClellan recalls. "I think there was a point every year where we would have it out. We would lose, and I would feel like he was taking it out on me. Just typical stuff. I always felt like I got blamed, even when I didn't. ... But he was always fair."
In fact, the toughest part for father and son -- especially father -- was when McClellan headed off to the Minors, for stops in locales like Johnson City, Tenn., Peoria, Ill., and Davenport, Iowa.
"It was hard on him not to be able to see the games and listen to them," McClellan said. "They had to pay like 60 bucks a game. They had to call in over the phone just to listen to the broadcasts when I started. As you go higher, it gets easier to follow."
Now, though, McClellan is back at home, fulfilling a lifelong dream. He gets to pitch in front of the hometown fans and in front of dad and mom. He even helps out with the family business, giving lessons at the batting cages that his father owns.
It's an outcome that would have been hard to imagine, not just being in the big leagues, but at home. But it was what McClellan always aimed for, and dad always had his back.
"Baseball was always my No. 1," McClellan said. "I think it started with my brother. That's all I knew. When I was two years old, I was going to his games. I grew up around it. I didn't know any better."
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.