Punto raised in baseball family
Infielder's father taught him how to play ball, raise children
MINNEAPOLIS -- Lou Punto knew early. He knew when he saw the pock marks on the wall-blackened spheres on the other side of the room from the crib. But Lou definitely knew when he saw little Nicholas wind up and heave the bottle himself.Lou wasn't angry. He was ecstatic. He shook Nancy's arm. "Look! Look at Nick! Look at this! He's got a great arm!" To which Nick's mother replied: "If you start now, I'm going to shoot you." Lou Punto had a ballplayer.
"Dad, I'm going to the show," Nick said, simply.Nick said the two worked all the time. Weekends, weekdays, days, nights. But Lou knew when to back off. Nick told his father he was quitting baseball in high school. Lou knew it was a mistake, but he didn't say anything. Nick spent the summer hanging out with friends at the beach. The next year, Nick came back with a passion. He missed the game. With Nicole's birth, Lou is a first-time grandfather. He has no doubts about Nick's ability to juggle pro ball with his duties as a husband and father. "He puts his wife first, which means he will put his child first," Lou said. "Family will come first to him." Nick said he knew his life had a different purpose the first time he held Nicole. He will be thinking of her on Father's Day, when the team is in Milwaukee. And the boy who used to wake his father by jumping up and down in the crib and launching his bottle across the room will think of the man that pushed him to become what he has. "My father means the world to me," Nick said. "I hope my daughter feels the same way about me that I feel about my father."
Thor Nystrom is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.