‘Baseball and My Dad go Hand in Hand’
Even when Dads wonder if the message is coming through, the sons are watching!
By MIKE MURPHEY
Roy Hobbs Baseball
Watching his son’s approach to sports in junior high and high school, Fielding Snow wasn’t sure Forrest had the temperament to take his skills beyond an amateur level.
“He never took anything very seriously,” Fielding recalls. “He never got into serious training. He was just there to have fun. He just wanted to participate.”
Fun was fine, but as a professional athlete himself, Fielding knew what kind of discipline and commitment it takes to compete at the highest levels of any sport.
Fielding was a professional racquetball player, ranked at one time among the top players in the world. Forrest grew up watching him play and prepare. Fielding was also an accomplished baseball player, having pitched at San Diego State University, and he took up the game again as an amateur after his racquetball career ended.
(As a partner in Dave Henderson Baseball, a company that produces the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics Fantasy Camps, baseball became Fielding’s business in 1999. He will play with the DHBA Athletics in the Legends and Classics Divisions at the 2011 Roy Hobbs World Series.)
As a kid, Forrest was a catcher who enjoyed the challenge of controlling the game behind the plate. He would catch his dad’s pitching workouts, during which they would talk about pitching philosophy from a catcher’s standpoint. During his high school career, though, Forrest’s size and arm strength dictated a move to the mound. His raw pitching ability earned him a 44th round draft pick from the Seattle Mariners out of high school, but he chose to play baseball at the University of Washington instead. In 2010, the Mariners again drafted Forrest, this time in the 36th round.
Forrest signed and was sent to the Mariners’ short-season-A affiliate in Everett, Washington. Again, Fielding was concerned whether his son understood just what it would take to succeed at the professional level.
“All of a sudden,” Fielding said, “I saw the same patterns of discipline that I’d carried through with my sports emerge with him.”
The Mariners saw it, too. In his first professional season, he jumped from Everett to the team’s long-A team in Clinton, Iowa. After a strong spring in which Mariners coaches lauded his work ethic, he began this past season back at Clinton, but was soon sent one rung higher on the minor-league ladder to High Desert California. After a few starts there, the AAA Tacoma Rainers needed an emergency starter, and Forrest was called up. His performance kept him at AAA through the end of the season, and he is one of four pitchers in the Mariners minor-league system invited to the Arizona Fall League this year.
Forrest says Fielding might not have known it at the time, but even as a small boy, he took note of his dad’s approach to his sport.
“He was unbelievable on the racquetball court,” Forrest says, “and while that didn’t transfer to me being a good racquetball player, watching him taught me the art of hard work and discipline. It taught me the importance of competing every single time you go out there. He gave me a lot of intangibles that have helped me on the mound.”
While Forrest now approaches his baseball career with single-minded discipline, Fielding is very happy that Forrest also maintains his sense of fun. “He’s on a high like I’ve never seen him. He says he’s got the greatest job in the world.”
Fielding likes that Forrest sees him as someone who still plays the game. “It’s significant for him to see that baseball is a life sport instead of just something you do when you’re young,” he said. “Even if he never makes it beyond where he is right now professionally, he can enjoy baseball at other levels through his whole life.”
“In my mind,” Forrest said, “baseball and my dad go hand in hand. He’s been teaching me the game since T-ball. I just love talking baseball with him. Regardless of what level I might attain, I respect his knowledge of the game. Since I was 5-years-old, he’s been my best friend and a guy I look up to. He’s the reason I play baseball.”