Baseball daughter to baseball mom

Cathi Dietrich learned game from her dad, taught it to her son Derek

Baseball daughter to baseball mom

MIAMI -- Before she was a baseball mom, Cathi Dietrich was a baseball daughter. From an early age, the game has been in her blood.

Her father, Steve Demeter, enjoyed a brief career in the big leagues, and her son, Derek Dietrich, is in his fourth season as an infielder with the Marlins.

"She's been there for my entire baseball career, and a lot of my grandfather's playing career," Derek said. "What a wonderful person, great mother and, really, true baseball fan, and knowledgeable woman in the game."

On May 12, 2013, Cathi was on hand for her son's first Mother's Day in the big leagues. Miami promoted Dietrich from Double-A Jacksonville on May 8, when the club was in San Diego. A few days later, Dietrich was in the lineup, with his mother in the seats at Dodger Stadium on Mother's Day.

"It was so exciting," Cathi said. "The whole thing. We met him in San Diego. One game there, and then we drove to L.A."

Dietrich singled in his first big league at-bat in San Diego, and on Mother's Day, he collected his first double.

Afterward, the Marlins infielder presented Cathi with the pink-and-white cleats and wristbands he wore. On his shoes he wrote: "Happy Mother's Day, 2013. I love you, Derek."

"The memory of the day, those spikes, it's just priceless," Cathi said. "The look on his face was even more precious than the gift of the spikes. I think he was just so happy, the hard work and sacrifice that we shared, just to get to that point. To be able to give those to me was like a symbol, like here we are, 'We made it.' "

Parma, Ohio, residents, the Dietrichs follow their son on television and occasionally traveled to games. Cathi was in Northern California recently and was able to see the Marlins facing the Giants at AT&T Park.

Whenever Cathi is at the park, she carries a photo of her father with her.

Steve Demeter, from 1959-60, appeared in 15 total games, first with the Tigers and then the Indians. A third baseman, Demeter is known by fans in Detroit for being a part of a trivia question. He was traded straight up to the Indians for first baseman Norm Cash, a prolific slugger in his day and the 1961 American League batting champion.

Demeter enjoyed a lengthy career in baseball, playing 19 seasons in the Minor Leagues. He also managed in the minors and was on the Pirates' big league staff in 1985. He also scouted for the Pirates.

When Demeter managed Shreveport in 1978, one of his promising players was catching prospect Tony Pena, now the Yankees bench coach.

"I was very emotional in San Francisco," Cathi said. "My daughter was with me. I was like, 'What would my dad have thought?' He would have just been so pleased, so happy and grateful. Like Derek is. He's always so happy."

Demeter died in February 2013. A little more than three months later, his grandson made his big league debut.

"My mom continues to fulfill my grandfather's legacy," Dietrich said. "She reminds me of many things my grandfather and I talked about. Things that he told me that helped me and brought me success and kept me grounded on how to play this game. My mom reminds me daily, sometimes via text, on the phone, 'Hey, remember, when grandpa said this or suggested that?' It really does help. For that, I'm very thankful."

As a child, Derek would go to Veterans Memorial Field at State Road Park in Parma and practice. His father, Richard, would pitch, Derek would hit, his mother often would help gather the balls in the outfield. Demeter would critique. All the buckets of baseballs hit in those days have paid off.

"It was a family affair," Cathi said. "His whole career has been a family affair. It probably is in most families.

"I grew up in baseball, first as a daughter and now a mother. You never realize along the way it's going to end up that way."

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.