In Tribe clubhouse, players’ daughters made welcome

AvilesKids

(Editor’s note: This story reprinted with permission from the Akron Beacon Journal.)

BY MARLA RIDENOUR
Akron Beacon Journal

BOSTON: Bryson Bourn and Giovanni Brantley chased each other around a table in the Indians’ clubhouse after a recent Sunday home game. It was not an unusual sight; baseball players’ sons have been coming to the park with their fathers for decades.

But what was going on nearby was not the norm. At another table sat three little girls who looked to be ages 4 to 6, who were eating, chatting and ignoring the raucous boys.

All season, Indians’ fathers have been bringing their daughters into the postgame clubhouse on Sundays at Progressive Field. The idea came from designated hitter Jason Giambi, who said he was thinking outside the box as he prepared to interview for the Colorado Rockies’ managerial vacancy before the 2013 season. Giambi has a 2½-year-old daughter, London.

“I had to take a step back. ‘If I’m managing, how would the team represent me?’ ” Giambi said Saturday before the Indians faced the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. “That’s what you have to do, you have to have that connection with your players. There’s so many little girls, and daddies always have their little girls. It would be something cool they could share.”

Manager Terry Francona, who grew up going to major league games with his father, Tito, and General Manager Chris Antonetti signed off on the plan. The Indians were overwhelmingly in favor.

“We’ve got like 35 to 40 kids on this team. This is by far the most I’ve ever been a part of,” nine-year veteran Nick Swisher said.

“Obviously everybody was OK with it because there’s 900 daughters on this team,” said Mike Aviles. He has three — Kyla, 9, and twins Adriana and Maiya, 3.

Home clubhouse and equipment manager Tony Amato loved the idea and found garment racks that the Indians hang their street clothes on when they dress before the game. The racks are rolled into the shower area near the trainers’ room for later, when the doors open for the kids.

Right fielder David Murphy, with daughters Madison, 6, and Faith, 5, and son Cole, 3, likes that the Indians are teaching their children equality, even if they don’t know it yet.

“Ever since they’ve been old enough to realize my son can come in the clubhouse any time, they get a little jealous,” Murphy said of his girls. “We try to make this game and the organization as family-friendly as possible, but in a lot of situations it has to exclude females. I think it’s awesome the way the girls have gotten to come in the clubhouse because they want to see what daddy does as much as our little boys do. It makes them feel special and I guess it makes them feel on the inside of things as opposed to the outside.”

Nick Swisher said his 1-year-old daughter, Emerson, grabs the bag in his locker and plays with the baseballs. She’s enjoying a little of what Nick saw as a kid when his father, Steve, played for the Cubs, Cardinals and Padres.

“She’s having a blast,” Swisher said. “I grew up in the locker room; it’s the only thing I’ve ever known in my life. Now to be able to give that gift — I guess you could call it a gift — to my daughter. There’s so many guys who have daughters. We said, ‘We can’t be pushing them out and just letting the boys come in.’ ”

Aviles said Swisher once taped his twins’ wrists, so they go straight for the tape.

“They pull it out and think it’s a lasso,” Aviles said.

Aviles said Ryan Raburn’s daughter Taytum, 3, wants to go to the batting cage. Murphy’s daughters love the candy. On the recent Sunday, Corey Kluber cracked a rare smile as his daughters Kendall and Kennedy spun around in the black leather chairs in front of his locker.

“That’s a big day,” Giambi said, acknowledging Kluber’s stoicism.

The first time London Giambi visited, the Indians had just returned from spring training, and the families’ personal items and kids’ toys lined the hallway to the dugout.

“She was like, ‘I want that bike and that bike.’ She thought it was Christmas,” said Giambi, 43. “I’ve been a lot of years in this game and I never had that. When they’re old enough, girls will take those memories with them.”

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