Happy Father’s Day To The Men In The Minors Still Chasing The Dream
Exclusive: Three families share their journey.
Every year in June, we celebrate the men who have stood and continue to stand in the gap to make sure their families are top priorities in their lives. Every year we honor the very men who understand that when raising a family, having the proper influence will produce the next generation of leaders.
When thinking about professional baseball, these very men are in all levels from the minors to the majors.
With regards to the minors, its the launching pad for the best prospects from all over the world, who use the system to better their skills so one day they may grace the major league parks. Many don’t even realize that some of these men are also doing their best to raise up their own families. The reality is that life does not stop because they haven’t reached their main goals, families just become a part of the journey.
There are many men in the system vying for their opportunity, but for the purpose of this article, and not taking anything away from any other players working their way through the organizations, for those with families, the chance to play in the majors becomes just as important, since now they have a family to care for.
In minor league baseball, the players experience long duration’s away from home, especially if they are across the country, and with small salaries, it puts a heavier load on their families to just get by. With most, the wive’s take on bigger roles in the home front and work to make ends meet. But it’s an agreement that both the ball player and their spouse take on, as he pursues his ultimate dream.
I spoke with three ball players who are working hard towards reaching the majors and they each gave me a glimpse into their world and journey’s.
Cody Satterwhite, who was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in 2008 and spent three seasons within the New York Mets organization from 2013-2015, initially signed a free agent minor league contract this past spring with the LA Angels, but as recently as the past two weeks, his rights were bought by the Hanshin Tigers in Osaka, Japan and is currently starting his new career overseas.
Cody met his wife Mallory in 2010 and they married in 2012, before having their first baby, a girl, last October. As he continues to work towards reaching the majors, his main priorities are always on his mind, “I play to provide for my family. When I was younger, it was more about just the love of the game, and while that love hasn’t subsided, being able to provide for and give security to my family is my main goal these days and definitely takes precedence now. That’s the ultimate reason I continue to chase the dream.”
Kyle Johnson, who is currently playing with the Mets Double-A affiliate, the Binghamton Mets, was drafted by the Angels in 2012 and was traded in 2013 to New York in exchange for outfielder Collin Cowgill.
Kyle, like Cody, is a family man who is also chasing his dream of one day playing major league baseball. Kyle and his wife Susan met in college and married in 2013. They have two daughters and Kyle understands how much it matters to have the support from his family, “My family motivates me the most. Knowing I have the strongest wife in the world, working two jobs and taking care of our girls, allows me to play the sport I love. Without my wife, non of this is possible. I think about how hard she works, and it motivates me.”
Allan Dykstra, who is currently a free agent, was drafted in 2008 by the San Diego Padres. He was then traded to the Mets for pitcher Eddie Kunz on March 29, 2011 and remained with the organization from 2011-2014. In the winter of 2014, he became a free agent and signed a contract with the Tampa Bay Rays, making his major league debut on April 8, 2015, recorded his first hit on April 13th against the Toronto Blue Jays, and his first home run three days later against the New York Yankees. While temporarily away from the game, Dykstra started his own Professional hitting instruction and video analysis business and is currently training while at home in Southern California.
Allan met his wife Veronica in 2010 and they married last February. He has played a huge part in raising her three children, and now they will add to the bunch as they are expecting a baby girl, due next February.
Dykstra shared with me what has inspired him the most throughout his journey, “I think earlier in my career it was my childhood dream of making it to the major leagues but, as I got older and farther into my professional career my motivation changed. My motivation to be a great person and a great role model not only for the younger players and children watching me, but also my own family.”
Being away from home can really become a burden on any man, especially when they are missing key events in their children’s lives. It isn’t easy and each shared with me what they miss most while away with the team.
“I miss just the every day of doing life with my family. My daughter is still so young, and I want to be there for every little moment. I always hope she won’t forget about me when I’m gone a long time. She’s at that stage where she’s just constantly on the go and doing new things all the time. I never know if she’s going to learn a new milestone in her life while I’m away and I’d hate to miss something. So we FaceTime a lot,” says Satterwhite.
“It’s the small changes my daughters are experiencing. My youngest every day is learning something new, or becoming more adventurous. We FaceTime every day, but it’s not the same as being there and seeing the development first hand,” shares Johnson.
“When I was on the road, I missed sleeping in my bed next to my wife and sitting on the couch watching movies with my entire family,” says Dykstra.
Having a families support, when he is away for a good portion of the year, is key to any man’s success, it makes the journey easier to pursue.
“Baseball is my life dream, but I wouldn’t keep chasing it if it affected our home life.” Satterwhite continues, “My dreams are my wife’s dreams, and she reassures me that this is where we are supposed to be right now. Her full support, encouragement and faith in me, means I don’t have to worry about bringing any home situations to the field and once I leave the field, I don’t bring the game home. She fully supports my dream and is passionate about my passion. It makes playing baseball so much easier knowing that she’s in this all the way.”
“My wife, financially and emotionally, makes it possible for me to chase this dream. I would not have gotten this far without her,” says Johnson.
“It means the world to have my wife’s support. This game can become very cut-throat especially the closer you are to making the big leagues and when there is a lot of money on the line. In these situations you can really feel like you are on your own or even that everyone is against you.” Dykstra Continues, “Having my wife as my constant support and knowing that she always has my back is the bright spot in a dark world. No matter how you perform knowing that she will either be waiting for you outside the clubhouse with a smile or excited to answer your phone call after the game is something that keeps you motivated to be the best player and person you can be. Knowing that there is more than just baseball in your life can alleviate some of the stress that comes with chasing the dream of playing in the big leagues.”
If we look at our own lives, outside of the diamond, every father has the same goals and every woman who supports her husband knows that if he feels successful in his career, that he will fully take care of his family with no regrets. Support is key to a happy home and while they continue on their amazing journey’s, these three men and so many others, will have many lessons to teach their children along the way.
“I will tell my children to control what they can control. Not just in baseball but in many situations in life you can only control your effort, actions, beliefs and words. Things might not always go in their favor even if they do everything correct, but if they can look in the mirror at the end of the day and be satisfied that they did everything they could and had no regrets than they succeeded,” shares Dykstra.
“I want Emmy [daughter] to be strong in her faith. I’ve learned so much in this journey, to persevere through in order to get where I want to go and always work hard for your goals. I hope she has that drive and work ethic,” says Satterwhite.
“I would like my two daughters to follow their dreams, and if there is something they desire to be, then strive for it. That it is important to work as hard as they can to achieve it and continue pushing for it until God closes that door and opens up another. To also enjoy the ride and trust in the plan God has for them,” says Johnson.
Having a father in the home is extremely important to a families development, but having a strong and supportive wife is a priceless commodity to any family.
“Kyle’s role as a husband and father changes during baseball season. He’s very involved with the girls while we’re apart, as we use video calls daily. But obviously that’s different in the off season as he takes on the majority of the parenting responsibility. For example, this last off season, he would wake up early and drop off our older daughter at school, come home and watch the baby while I went to work, and have homework and dinner going when I got home. He’s very invested in being the best father he can be to them, and his constant dedication makes the in-season times easier to manage,” shares Susan Johnson recounting the importance of her family life.
“I have watched Allan grow as a player and a partner as well as a positive roll model in mine and my kids lives since he entered our world. I have always told my kids that Allan has gotten where he is today by never giving up, working hard and truly having a passion for what he does. Allan also is a perfect example of why your education is of the utmost importance especially as an athlete. He is a loving Christian husband and father who takes amazing care of our family,” says Veronica Dykstra on what her husband means to her their growing family.
Mallory Satterwhite shared with me how proud she is of her husband. “He is very selfless and sacrificing, gives his all to provide for us and bless others. He has persevered on his own even when friends, a former agent and his old team have told him he was done with the game. He rehabbed and worked his way back on his own and kept faith that he could persevere through the trials as he continues doing what he loves. He is completely devoted to his roles as a husband, daddy and athlete.”
Susan Johnson had a great take on what baseball wive’s face while their husbands are away.
“Being a baseball wife can be tough, because the guys are away, and getting their undivided attention to update them on what’s going on at home can be hard. Which means you often make a lot of calls as a parent or household leader that you’d typically want to confer on before hand.”
The journey in the minor leagues isn’t as easy as one might think, it has many ups and downs, that only a strong bond can overcome, and these three families and countless others share something in common, they are all chasing the same dreams and even if they do not reach their plateau, they still all have each other and that is something that is truly priceless.
Happy Fathers Day to every family man in Minor League Baseball that is still chasing their dreams. Never give up, because your family support makes the journey that much sweeter and the goals much more attainable.