Yankees discuss the joys of fatherhood

Yankees discuss the joys of fatherhood

MINNEAPOLIS -- Preparing to celebrate Father's Day 2016, I wanted to take the opportunity to share a personal story. This past Christmas Eve, my wife, Connie, and I received the most wonderful blessing of our lives, as we learned that we will be welcoming a girl to the world this summer.

Each week since has been a blur of joyous anticipation for our growing family, from the first time we heard that racing heartbeat on a Doppler machine to the amazing 3D ultrasound images that doctors can provide these days. It has also included far too many trips to debate over the same exact crib at the local baby superstore (sigh).

Now that the word is out, we have received an outpouring of love and support from our friends and family, as well as many of the people I encounter on a regular basis during my duties as the Yankees' beat reporter for MLB.com.

Needless to say, raising a family is a challenging task -- no matter what line of work you happen to be in. But the challenges of doing so while spending half the year playing Major League Baseball in New York City must complicate those matters ten-fold.

You'd have to figure that the Yankees would have some valuable lessons to share. With that in mind, I surveyed some of the dads in the clubhouse for their thoughts on how being a father has changed them and for one piece of advice they'd give to a soon-to-be father. Here's what they had to say:

Jacoby Ellsbury: "It's a wonderful thing. I'm blessed to have a happy, healthy little girl, [Emery], she's just over seven months. I couldn't imagine my life without her now. It just makes our [lives] that much better. I was just excited from the get-go. When I found out we were having a little girl, I was very excited. I wouldn't change anything. When you come back from a road trip, seeing the excitement on their face when you get home, that's very special.

"I just laugh. It doesn't really keep us from what we want to do, it just takes us that much longer to do it. Prepare [for] at least an hour delay."

Brett Gardner: "My kids are seven and five now, so they're starting to grow up a little bit. It [made me] realize the things that my dad did for me. You don't really realize how much you love somebody until you have kids. I think it helps you settle down a little bit and put things in perspective, and try to do a good job of separating baseball work from home and family. Whether you have a good day at the field or a bad day at the field, you go home and your kids are going to be the same. It's something that keeps you grounded. I love my kids more than anything in the world. Being a father makes me realize the sacrifices my dad made for me and how much he loved me and how much I love him.

"Just try [to] have a lot of patience. For me, sometimes I'm not the most patient person. I just pray for patience. It's still something I need to continue to work on, but I've definitely become a lot more patient after I've had kids."

Joe Girardi: "I think you have a lot more appreciation for what your parents did. I think you understand the things that they went through. I think about my parents raising five kids. I have three, and I think that's a lot, so I just have a lot more appreciation. I think making time for your children is important, being a positive influence in their lives. I had that; my father was a great influence on me and always made time for his kids in the midst of working three jobs. I think about [why] I have to make time. To have a profession and to be a good parent, you have to give some things up in life. For me, it's family and my job. Those are my two main things.

"Make sure you're there. Your child's life goes really fast. I look up and I can't believe my daughter, [Serena], [has grown up and] we'll only have her for one more year before she's in college. It seems like I was just holding her. It goes too fast."

Chase Headley: "My favorite part about my life is being a dad. I think one of the coolest things about it is, it's brought my wife, [Casey], and I closer together. To see the way that she takes care of the kids and just how adept she is at dealing with everything that comes with having a kid [is impressive]. It just makes you respect her more, and brings you closer together. You really put things where they belong, as far as what really matters in life. It takes away any selfishness that you have.

"You know that it's a big job. You know that there's a lot that goes into it, but you can't really know that until you experience all of it. Everybody says there's not another feeling like it, and that day that your first kid is born, you'll finally realize that that's true."

Alex Rodriguez: "I just think it brought perspective to my life. Obviously, there's nothing more rewarding than to spend time with the kids. There's nothing like it. I don't think anything can prepare you for it. It's the ultimate responsibility. To me, it's been the greatest gift of my life to be able to watch them. Everything else just takes a back seat to your kids and the responsibility that comes with raising them."

"Be patient. You have to cherish every second, because it goes by fast."

CC Sabathia: "It's changed me a lot. Just having patience; I think the biggest thing for me is the patience, just being able to deal with four kids. You get more mature [with] the more kids you have. I wouldn't be able to do it without [my wife], Amber -- scheduling everything and making sure that I'm in the right place at the right time. But it's been a lot of fun. My two boys love sports, so I can bond with that, and my girls love to dance. I'm kind of into that, too, so it's a lot of fun.

"Just enjoy it. Have fun. It's tough, but have fun with it."

Mark Teixeira: "It's the ultimate learn-on-the-job [experience]. There's nothing anyone can tell you that makes it any easier. The best days of my life -- and [there are] not even ... close [seconds], are the three days that my kids were born. I try to enjoy every day with my kids.

"They grow up fast. It's kind of the old cliché, but enjoy every minute of it. There's just nothing better. Nothing better in the world."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. 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.