Thursday, June 14, 2007
Father's Day Special
Gene Neshek, Pat's Dad
Welcome back for Part 2 of the four part Father's Day Special. Earlier today, you were able to read the thoughts of Rick Tintor, Eli's dad. This entry comes from Gene Neshek, the father of Twins reliever extraordinaire, Pat Neshek. Here are his thoughts as Father's Day approaches.
STORIES GROWING UP
Baseball always played a major role for us as a family going back 25 years when we lived in Florida. Pat was awesome with the big plastic wiffle ball bat and ball when he was just one year old. We attended many Vero Beach Dodger games, Pat's favorites were the San Diego Famous Chicken and Max Patkin, the Clown Prince of Baseball. We moved to Minnesota when Pat was 4 years old and our yard soon became the center of the universe for all the neighborhood kids. Pat would organize sandlot games in the yard every night. It first started with wiffle balls, then tennis balls and finally baseballs. We had a baseball field on the side of the house for over 8 years. Our greatest experience as a family and as a dad was Little League. We were part of the Brooklyn Center American Little League for 7 years. I coached and umpired each year including the first year Paul and Pat played together on the same minor league. That first year we ended up winning the league championship in dramatic fashion. A few years later Pat's team won the Minnesota State Championship in Duluth and went on to the Central Region in Indianapolis. Pat had a no hitter going against the Ohio team in the Central Region but lost 1-0 and Ohio went on to Williamsport. The next year Paul's team made it all the way to the Little League World Series! Pat was influenced quite a bit by Kirby Puckett since Kirby lived in Brooklyn Park during the years the Twins World Series years. During that time we attended many games at the Metrodome including almost all the SuperAmerica Knot Hole games. We would load our Mitsibushi Van with every kid in the neighborhood and the kids would just have a blast. It was always crazy around our place on those days.
ROLE AS FATHER
Pat was always focused on baseball. Growing up in Minnesota presented challenges in the winter each year if you wanted to play year round. From the time the boys were little they always had unlimited passes to the local batting cage. Later on, I organized a winter baseball team playing in the Winfield Sportsdome in St. Paul. This was a big bubble that the city put up each winter. The team played games and practiced all winter but it was usually second fiddle to softball teams so we got the midnight Friday and Saturday slots for our games. You had to be really dedicated to play at those times. Additionally, when Pat was older fishing nets were put up in the basement for throwing (he still uses this today!) and neighbors must have thought we were nuts when I would put the catching gear on in the middle of winter and catch Pat in the front yard. That was always tough because of the glare from the white snow often made the curveballs impossible to catch, and the cold would make the fastballs really bit in your hand, ouch just thinking about it!
ON THE TWINS
Pat has said that currently "he has the greatest job in world" playing professionally for the team he grew up with. The organization has always been lots of fun. Now he gets to represent them at various functions throughout the year and is proud to do so.
ON PLAYING BALL PROFESSIONALLY
When Pat was in 10th grade he had gone to some tryouts and later in the year he received his first letter from the Atlanta Braves. This was just a letter saying they thought he had potential to play professionally and they would be watching his development. I think this was the first time we all started thinking "wow, maybe he can play professionally". This really motivated Pat to work harder and make his dream become a reality.
Thank you Gene!
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