Daughters see different side of Majors
Big leaguers' girls seldom experience clubhouse atmosphere
SAN DIEGO -- Four little girls with blonde hair surround Geoff Blum. He waves his hands above his head and makes one of them giggle. Two wear his No. 27 jersey.One of many Padres celebrating Father's Day this year with their daughters, Blum certainly appears to be putting on an entertaining show for 3-year-old Mia Lea and 2-year-old triplets Ava, Audrey and Kayla.
They stand in a busy corridor inside PETCO Park, where if you walk a little farther down, you can see the Padres' home clubhouse to your left. On the right are two lounges.One is for the wives and one is for the children, called a fun room or family lounge where kids can play board games while waiting for Dad.
While wives, babies and young children almost always stay here, the sons of ballplayers don't have to. They can go somewhere even better -- the clubhouse. Sons are an everyday sight in the clubhouse before and after games. They come in with their dads and change out of their everyday clothes to Padres uniforms, which are always pint-size versions of Dad's jersey. Then they'll go out on the field and play catch with other sons during batting practice or hang out inside.
Far more seldom will you see any of the daughters of Major League players in the clubhouse. Among active Padres, there are more daughters (19) than sons (15). Nine Padres have at least one daughter. Although the girls outnumber the boys, they still are a rare sight in the clubhouse. There is no rule prohibiting them from being in the clubhouse, but there are obvious reasons those occasions are rare, since the clubhouse is essentially a men's locker room.
"Well, it's a totally different situation," Blum said of bringing his daughters. "Obviously I can't bring them into the clubhouse because, No. 1, they are too young, and No. 2, because they're just girls. But we have plenty of time at home to play and hang out and do what we need to do to stay close.
"I mean, they're girls in every sense of the word. ... I don't know if loud, boisterous boys would really be up their alley. They have fun in the fun room. I go out there and see them and it works out pretty good."
Russell Branyan brought his 3-year-old daughter, Kylie, into the clubhouse after a game last week. She followed closely to him and said hello to players before Branyan picked her up. Kylie clung onto his neck while resting her head on his shoulder. Reporters came flocking, but Kylie, wearing a tank top and skirt, paid no notice. Marcus Giles saw her and came and said hello.Giles has three little girls: Arringtun, 4, Sawyur, 1, and Tatum, 6 months.
"I wouldn't trade any of my girls for a boy, don't get me wrong," Giles said. "But it would be nice to have your child hang out here."
Players are frequently changing in front of their lockers or walking out of the shower with just a purple bath towel around their waists.
"If we are coming off a road trip and the guys aren't showering or something, [Arringtun] comes in here," Giles said. "As long as the guys aren't showering."
Branyan has the same sentiments when it comes to Kylie.
"I try to bring her when there's not quite as much traffic," Branyan said. "Kind of let the guys get out of the shower. I don't bring her in that often. Just here and there. She's getting to the point that I think in the next year or so, I'll probably cut it out. That's something my wife and I will probably talk about in the next year. [But] I think its cool at this age that she comes in and runs around with all the boys."
It's easy to see sons with their dads at homestands, but how do daughters get their fair share of quality time at the ballpark?
"Sometimes we'll go out to the field or batting cage," Branyan said. "She likes to throw the ball around and swing the bat and especially run out in the grass. On day games, I'll take her back to the field and let her run around. I took her on this last road trip to Atlanta. She rode on the team flight."
Relief pitcher Heath Bell tries to bring his girls, Jasmyne, 8, and Jordyn, 5, into the clubhouse before most players enter.
"I bring my girls in when nobody's been here," Bell said. "Like real early, I'll bring them in here and we'll go fool around in the outfield. Or late when everybody's pretty much gone after the game, so they do get to see. They just don't get to see it with everybody. My son will be here when there's everybody here. My girls have been here just at the appropriate time.
"They want to come in here really bad, because Dad's a baseball player and he's with a bunch of baseball players, and they're little girls, they don't understand that there are guys running around here naked and stuff," Bell said.
Baseball is a masculine world. A team of men must play together on the field, travel together and spend the better part of seven months with each other. To squeeze in time with their families is a juggling act. For players with daughters, it makes spending time outside PETCO Park even more important.
"I just hang out with them all the time at home," Giles said.
Said Branyan: "We spend time at night reading books and watching movies. She loves doing things with Dad, whether it's taking her for a ride in my old car or walking beside her while she's riding her bike or sitting and watching a horse movie with her or swimming or going to the beach."
Bell's daughters are "Daddy's girls," and he'll do anything for them, even if it means wearing green tights on Halloween to be Peter Pan for Jasmyne.
"I live in Florida, and my kids just got out of school and they came here," Bell said. "Basically, after games, I tuck them in, try to read them a bedtime story if it's at all possible. Or give them a bath. In the morning, they wake me up.
"We'll have tea parties. If I need to wear a dress, I'll wear a dress. They'll pretend to do my makeup, paint my toenails. My girls just like seeing Dad."
Perhaps baseball can also be a girl's world after all.
Elizabeth M. Botello is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.