For Red Sox players and staff members, Father’s Day in 2022 is already assured of being a special one — just as this season will be cherished for reasons that go beyond anything that occurs on the field.
The perks of being a big leaguer are considerable. But for the 2020 and 2021 seasons, one of the most meaningful joys of life in the game proved impossible.
With field and clubhouse access restricted in deference to COVID-19 protocols, players and coaches could not bring their kids to the field or into the clubhouse. In 2020, while teams played in empty ballparks, the closest players came to their kids at the field was in the form of cardboard cutouts. In 2021, family members returned to the ballpark but only in the stands, permitting waves but not the chance to enjoy the uniqueness of an inside view of the game.
This year, for the first time since 2019, those doors have been reopened, allowing uniform personnel to again share the inner workings of their profession. The restored ability to do so has been met with delight and appreciation by members of the Red Sox.
“Obviously being able to get through this period of COVID and now coming back, it’s been great,” said Sox starter Rich Hill, who signed in Boston in part to be able to share such experiences with his 10-year-old son, Brice. “Guys have been able to bring their kids into the office and have them go out [on the field] for batting practice. It’s been a very inviting work environment.
“It makes it that much better for us as players to feel comfortable in this area that we work in, where we can bring our families and especially, our sons that can come [into the clubhouse] and see this environment and be a part of it. I know it’s special to [Brice]. As short-lived as this is and as short-lived as a career is, to be able to have him be part of it and see the inner workings in the clubhouse is really unique and fortunate . . . And to be able to have these moments, share them, it’s memories for a lifetime.”
The baseball schedule tends to separate team members from their families for months at a time. During the season, many families only reunite once the school year ends in the summer — and sometimes only briefly, given the swirl of summer camps and travel ball teams. Even when baseball players’ families are together for the summer, their time is whittled by teams’ frequent travel to play on the road.
The chance for fathers to spend time on the field with their family members serves as something of an offset to the missed time — a very special sort of “take your kid to work” setting. On Saturday afternoon, Sox third base coach Carlos Febles played catch with his 16-year-old son, Carlos Febles Jr., on the infield prior to running Red Sox infielders through their pregame work, for the first time in three years.
“It means a lot. It’s been two tough years — not just for me, but for [his family] as well, not being able to be together during the season, during the summer,” said Febles. “Just having the opportunity to have him back, hanging out with him on the field, playing catch, just being friends, this is huge. This is an opportunity not many kids get.”
Ryan Brasier brought his 11-year-old son, Kolten, into the home clubhouse at the start of the season. Then, when the Sox went to Texas to play the Rangers, Brasier had the chance to hit balls to his son on the field and let him shag during batting practice.
“He was pretty jacked up about,” said Brasier. “He loves coming in here, B.S.-ing with the guys, giving guys knuckles after a win. I enjoy it ever more so because he loves coming in here.”
Catcher Kevin Plawecki was able to bring his son, Kasen, into the dugout prior to Friday’s game. The 3 ½-year-old was treated like a returning family member by other members of the Red Sox, affording both father and son a joy that will transcend Plawecki’s career.
“It’s everything,” said Plawecki. “To share it with your kids and with your family, it’s extremely special. The last couple of years, it’s kind of been taken away from us — the access that the families have had, that kids have had with being able to come into the locker room, come early, play catch, be with their dads. It’s cool stuff. It’s been nice to get back to some normalcy in that.
“Thankfully, [Kasen is] older now and knows what dad is doing. It doesn’t make it any easier when we have to go on the road. But at least you know we’re able to share those moments together like we had the other day.”
After Sunday’s game, Red Sox players and staff members will assemble on the field at Fenway to enjoy a picnic gathering with their families in celebration of Father’s Day. Such get-togethers have always been understood to be special, but this year, the .
“Hopefully it’s gonna be something that they remember for years to come. I know I will,” said Jackie Bradley Jr., who is spending time this weekend with his wife, Erin, three children, as well as his father and father-in-law. “I know I will. At this stage in my life, with my wife and kids, I didn’t have all of that when I was first coming up. It just kind of just shows you how much life has has changed and you’ve grown. Not only how I’ve matured, but my family as well. So
“It’s going to be pretty special. Each Father’s Day is. I don’t take that for granted.”
Alex Speier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @alexspeier.