Deanna Duffy was a high school athlete and had done some catching in her time.
"She was part of the first high school softball team at her school. She was a catcher and she's a really good athlete," Duffy said. "She's still in really good shape. She goes out on runs all the time. She loves sports, loves basketball, loves watching everything. She's just great, she's awesome."
When Danny was growing up in Lompoc, Calif., it was mom who had the catcher's mitt.
"I thought all this time that I was going to be an outfielder, and then I went from throwing 70 [mph] when I was a freshman and jumping up and having a growth spurt and she was able to catch 'em," said Duffy. "Seriously, she was my bullpen catcher in the offseason until I started throwing too hard, and that was a lot for her, because she loved going out and catching me.
"She had that Mike Piazza model, that Rawlings. She loved it. And she went out and threw batting practice for me, too, when I hit in high school. We were at the field more than we weren't when I was out of school, so it was a lot of fun."
His dad, Dan Duffy, was there, too, shagging balls in the outfield and offering advice. He coached young Danny in his Little League days. But at home, mom was the catcher.
"I had less control back then than anybody my age. She was real, real clutch going out there and doing that for me," Duffy said.
And she sometimes was the pitcher, too.
"She had bruises from me everywhere," he said. "We'd hit line drives up the middle at her. We'd stack trash cans like an 'L' screen for her, but she'd get hit pretty hard."
Her son says Deanna took a job at an elementary school and used most of the money to buy him equipment and drive him to "scout ball" games so he could compete against and with the best players in California.
"She's an instructional assistant for special education. It takes a really patient, really special person to do that, too," he said.
Like the kind of person it took to pick Danny's errant fastballs out of the dirt.
"I can't say enough about what she did for me. I wouldn't be here where I am if she hadn't have been driving me every weekend -- three hours south to play against the best in the state," he said. "I honestly don't think I'd be here if it wasn't for her. I owe everything to her."