Being a father has helped shape Headley

Being a father has helped shape Headley

NEW YORK -- The Yankees were celebrating one of their home victories this month and little Colt Headley, age 3, charged across the clubhouse carpet toward a bank of lockers, dressed head to toe in a miniature pinstriped uniform that sported his dad's No. 12 embroidered on the back.

Chase Headley followed his son, guiding the youngster away from the crowds of reporters and toward his clubhouse locker, where they dropped off their gear together before visiting the postgame buffet. At some point, young Cole will recognize that not every dad gets the chance to play Major League Baseball, but for now they are enjoying the experience together.

"He's got his uniform on constantly; he won't come to the game without his uniform on," Headley said. "Every time we win, he wants to come in the clubhouse and play on the field. It's pretty neat. I think in another couple of years, he'll really understand the magnitude of the Major Leagues and that it's not necessarily normal for every kid.

"Most of his friends have dads that are in the big leagues, too. I think once he starts to understand that, it'll hit him a little bit more. He enjoys it, and it's fun to be able to bring him in there after a game and celebrate with us."

Headley and his wife, Casey, have two children; eight-month-old Cale was born this offseason. As Father's Day approaches, the 31-year-old Headley said that he believes fatherhood significantly changed his outlook for the better.

"I think the biggest thing is, it changes your priorities," Headley said. "Having a family to come home to and take care of really puts it in perspective, what we do at the field. It's a lot easier to come home; they don't care what I do at the field, they just want to come home and play with their dad. That's pretty neat."

Headley describes his son as a typical 3-year-old -- he is fascinated by anything with wheels, especially motorcycles and trains, and has a soft spot for Mickey Mouse and Disney movies. Headley said that he believes fatherhood has made him less selfish and taught him patience, as well as leadership.

"You learn to love like you've never experienced before," Headley said. "It's different, the way you love your family when you have kids. You really can't explain to somebody who hasn't done it. I remember when Casey was pregnant and getting close, and guys would tell me, 'You can't imagine what it's like. You'll never love somebody like you love your kids.' You hear it, but you don't understand it until you go through it."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi believes strongly in the importance of family, and so players are welcome to bring their sons into the clubhouse following victories. It is not uncommon to see Colt softly tossing a baseball to his dad in the clubhouse or swinging a plastic bat.

He seems to have a knack for mimicking what he sees on a nightly basis on the field, and while Headley said he hopes that his children grow up to embrace sports, he won't necessarily push them toward baseball.

"I definitely hope that he's interested in sports and not necessarily just baseball, but all sports," Headley said. "I think, for me, that's what shaped a lot of who I am, the lessons that you learn being on a team and dealing with adversity. I hope that he's interested in that, just because it was such a huge part of my life.

"Honestly, I'd love if [Colt] was a hockey player. I love hockey, and it was a sport that I didn't play. I think it would be neat for him. I could just stand back and watch. We have season tickets in Nashville to watch the Predators, and he loves to go with me. ... I think it would be kind of neat to stand back and cheer him on rather than being on the sidelines saying, 'This is how you need to do it.'"

While the Headleys still make their offseason home in Tennessee, they have settled nicely in the New York area following last July's trade with the Padres.

The Yankees re-signed Headley to a four-year contract this past winter, and Headley said that the family purchased a home in nearby Armonk, N.Y., which provides them with the perfect mix of city convenience and suburb calm during the months that Chase -- and Colt -- are dressed in their pinstripes.

"They love it, especially where we are," Headley said. "I don't know if they could be in the city every day, but where we are, we absolutely love it. The Yankees are awesome with families, so we couldn't be happier."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.