For first time since high school, parents see brothers share same field
By Todd Zolecki and Brian McTaggart
MLB.com |@ToddZolecki |
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Jim and Racquelle Stassi stood behind the Phillies' dugout Thursday morning at Bright House Field, surveying a scene that had them recalling those countless hours spent on baseball fields back home in California.
Their son Max Stassi made the drive with his Astros teammates from Kissimmee to play the Phillies in a Grapefruit League game. He is expected to be Houston's backup catcher in 2016. Their son Brock Stassi is in Phillies camp as a non-roster invitee, fresh off a season that earned him the Double-A Eastern League Most Valuable Player Award.
For the first time since high school, they saw their sons on the same field together.
"It's kind of the culmination of all of those years," Jim Stassi said. "My wife and I said, 'No matter what, we're not going to miss this one.'"
The Stassis are a baseball family. Max and Brock's great, great uncle is Myril Hoag. He played 13 seasons in the big leagues from 1931-45, most notably playing on the Yankees with Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio. Their grandfather played Minor League baseball as well, and Jim Stassi played in the Giants' system from 1982-83.
Jim coached baseball at Yuba City (Calif.) High School for about 25 years. He had Brock, Max and his youngest son, Jake, who played at Long Beach State and Sacramento State, on the same team when Brock was a senior in 2007.
"It's been baseball all the time for us," Brock said.
"It was just a normal household with three boys, I guess you could say," Jim said. "We had holes in the walls from golf balls, a soccer field set up in the living room and things like that."
Max and Brock played together on the same team in winter ball in Puerto Rico this offseason, but obviously Thursday was different.
This was the big leagues.
"It's pretty special," Max said. "It's kind of something you dream about ever since both of us have been drafted and playing against each other, and finally it's a reality. Even though it's Spring Training, it's still pretty cool growing up, and he's obviously my best friend and cool to be on the same field as him."
Max finally has a clear path to be Houston's backup catcher after the Astros traded Hank Conger to the Rays in December. Brock had a fantastic season in Double-A Reading, and he is expected to open the season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
Brock has become a fascination of sorts for Phillies fans. Brock has put up great numbers, but he is nowhere to be found on prospects lists. His age (26) has much to do with it.
"I get it," Brock said. "All those guys on that list when I was in high school, they weren't even born yet. Everybody has their peak year. Maybe I just peaked a little later. Whatever my path, whatever my story might be, it's going to be different from a No. 1 pick than a guy like myself drafted in the 33rd round. As long as we get to where we're supposed to be at the end is all that matters."
On Thursday, that path led Brock to be on the same field with his younger brother.
"Hopefully he gets up there, and whoever is pitching, we can get the best of him," Max said.