Being a Big League Dad has its advantages.
"People sometimes get frustrated at me that I don't take losses as hard as I should, or even take wins as great as I should," said Indians right-hander Justin Masterson, who has a 2 1/2-year-old daughter and twins on the way. "I think it's because you've got those kids. Those kids put everything in perspective. You can have the best day or the worst day and they're still going to be screaming at you or loving on you. I think that's where we should be in life."
"Baseball is only for a minute, but what you pour into your children is for a lifetime," said Tigers right fielder Torii Hunter, father to four sons, including three who were graduated from high school this year. "So that's what's special to me."
"It's one of the greatest blessings that you can have in life, to be a dad, to be a parent," Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist said. "It's a lot of work, a lot of time being tired, but in the end, it's so worth it. ... My dad, the way he infused this competitive spirit and the drive to be the best that God has made you to be, that's something he put into me as a young kid and something I've always tried to take into every part of my life."
What those three All-Stars have in common is not just that they are involved in a Major League pennant race, but that they are among many fathers and sons who have some lessons to impart as part of a campaign on MLB.com called Big League Dads presented by Dove Men+Care. It is a quintessential story within the national pastime spanning generations, a rite of passage and a matter of balance for athletes who share their stories.
In addition to Masterson, Hunter and Zobrist, also featured in the videos are Chris Davis and Matt Wieters of the Orioles, Chris Sale of the White Sox, Albert Pujols and Mike Trout of the Angels, and Jason Castro, Jose Altuve and Matt Dominguez of the Astros.
Altuve, finishing his third season as Houston's second baseman, recalls his father's influence when he was growing up in Venezuela and then reaching for his big league dream.
"I remember he was at work, and after he came [home] from work, I was ready to go," Altuve said. "I guess he was tired, but he came with me to the field.
"When I came to the United States and played Rookie [ball] in the Minor Leagues, he'd call me after every game, tell me, 'Hey, maybe we gotta work on this.' I have to appreciate everything he did for me. I feel really happy, because he was with me every time."
As the average Orioles fan probably knows, Wieters and his wife Maria will celebrate the first birthday of their son Maverick on Sept. 28. The Baltimore catcher had to miss a bit of action during last year's pennant race as his wife gave birth, and Wieters said it has been transformative as he prepares for more of the same on-field intensity in the next month.
"It can be hard at times, because you miss being around a lot of times, and the travel can be tough," Wieters said. "The good thing is, technology nowadays, I'll at least get a video clip, or mom will send Skype or Facetime, and we can see each other on the road, which makes your day. It's even better when you're at home, and it makes it harder to come to the park sometimes."
Wieters echoed the sentiment of other players in the Dove commercials when he said of his father: "Everything I have I owe to him, and to be able to try and do the same thing for my son, hopefully I can do as good a job as he did."
Sale and Masterson both spoke of "mirroring" the guidance their own fathers gave them, as they raise their children now.
"Up until I got up to college, he might have missed a handful of games. He was there every step of the way," Sale said of his dad. "Even Little League, he would stay for four innings and show up late to a meeting for work so he didn't miss the whole thing."
Sale had his son Rylan and wife Brianne with him when he rode in a truck waving at fans in Midtown Manhattan during July's All-Star Game Red Carpet Show presented by Chevrolet, and he also had his son outside the dugout during the Chevrolet Home Run Derby.
"Having him here, taking pictures, being able to show him when he gets older, 'Remember doing this?' ... and seeing what he remembers," Sale said then. "Just how much fun he had. He wanted to go on the field so bad. I'm like, 'No, bud, we can't go out there right now.' It's fun. Especially when I don't get to see him too much during the season, you're on the road a lot. Being able to share this means the world to me."