Michael Brantley: Time with Dad in the Big Leagues
Indians outfielder Michael Brantley was born in 1987 in Seattle, WA, where his father, Mickey Brantley, played outfield for the Mariners. This weekend, Michael spent time reflecting on his relationship with his father.
TV: When did you get your first glove and first bat?
MB: I don’t even remember. I know as soon as I came out, I had a ball and a glove just running around the house. My parents told me just how much I was wanting to throw the ball and play catch with my father.
TV: What was your best memory as a kid at the ballpark?
MB: Probably spilling the candy when my dad went in the shower. I always had to sit in the chair, and he would give me candy. I would stuff it in my pocket and take it out to my mom while he was in the shower.
TV: Who was your favorite player growing up? Favorite team?
MB: My favorite player was Ken Griffey Jr., and I liked the Seattle Mariners.
TV: How has a little boy’s experience with their dad at the ballpark changed over the past several years?
MB: We didn’t have all that technology, that’s for sure. Just coming to the clubhouse, everything was kind of the same, when it came to the candy and just hanging out with the players.
TV: Did you always want to be a professional baseball player?
MB: I always wanted to be a basketball player growing up. Basketball was my first love, baseball was my second. [I played] point guard; I was the shortest guy on the court. I can shoot very well. I didn’t like driving because everyone was taller than me and attacked me.
TV: Did your dad ever coach you as a kid?
MB: He never officially coached one of my teams, but he gave me advice. He was more kind of quiet during the games, but once we got in the car, we talked about everything that went on in the game, whether it was good or bad. We talked every night on the way home on the car trip, and I learned so much.
TV: What position did you play in little league?
MB: I played shortstop — left-handed shortstop, and I pitched in little league. I was extremely competitive, not just to win, but I just wanted to do good. I didn’t care if we lost; as long as I did good, I was okay.
TV: What kind of advice would you give to little league coaches?
MB: Make sure [the kids] have fun. It’s not a business. It doesn’t really matter who wins as a kid. You see so much in little league now that it’s all about winning and losing. They’re kids — they’re 10 years old — let them have fun and enjoy baseball because it’s a fun sport.
TV: What has been your proudest moment playing in front of your dad?
MB: He actually came off the road when he was coaching with the New York Mets and got to see me throw. I was 12 years old. I shaved my head because he had a low haircut, and I threw a complete game and had like three or four hits. Having him there — he kind of surprised me — was awesome.
TV: Your dad has spent time as a major league hitting coach. Did he give you any advice during your 22-game hitting streak?
MB: We talk about every game, almost every at-bat each and every day. Every night or every morning, we just call to see how each other are doing, and we talk a little bit about baseball. That’s just something we’ve always shared, and I hope we continue to share it until I’m done.
TV: Is there any way you imitate your dad in the game today?
MB: Not really. He’s right-handed, I’m left-handed; he had high hands, I kind of have low hands. Everything’s a little different. He wore tight clothes, I wear baggy clothes. The game has changed. It’s just how hard he played. I always try to play as hard as he played. He always talks about giving it 110%, and I try to give it the same.
TV: What do you and your dad like to do together away from baseball?
MB: Me and my dad love to go fishing and golfing together. In the offseason, we get up at two or three in the morning and go out fishing. It’s just the best father-son time I could ever have. We also go on a camping trip for just two weeks, just me and him, and kind of get away from the world a little bit and have a good time father-son building.
TV: What is the best advice your dad has ever given you?
MB: To enjoy each and every day. Have fun playing baseball. Enjoy it like it was when you played as a kid. Always have fun.
-Megan Golden, TribeVibe contributor