Delino DeShields and Delino DeShields Jr. stood on the grass near the first-base line at Great American Ball Park around 3:45 p.m. Friday. They chatted for a few minutes. At one point, the elder DeShields put his arm on his son’s shoulder, likely giving the same advice he’s given his son throughout his career — straight talk straight from the heart.
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In May, when DeShields Jr. was sent down to Triple-A for 15 games, it was: “Play better. This is the big leagues.”
Until this three-game series between the Cincinnati Reds and Texas Rangers, the father and son had combined to appear in 2,080 Major League Baseball games as players — not to mention hundreds of minor league games and numerous games at levels in which the elder DeShields managed or coached — without playing against each other. The lone exceptions came in spring training.
“It’s always good to see him,” said DeShields, the first-year Reds first base coach and former Dayton Dragons manager of his son, who started in center field Friday for the Rangers. “This is definitely going to be special, being Father’s Day and and all that. I don’t know how many of you have kids who play ball, but this is nerve-wracking. I’ve played in front of packed houses and did it all, but there ain’t nothing like watching your kids play ball.”
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DeShields hit .268 in a 13-year big-league career that began in 1990 with the Montreal Expos and ended in 2002 with the Chicago Cubs. DeShields Jr. debuted with the Rangers in 2015 and has hit .243 in five seasons. He was born in 1992, when his dad was in his third season in Montreal.
According to a 1992 report in The Montreal Gazette, DeShields missed the birth by a couple hours because he had to travel home to Seaford, Del., from a game in Montreal.
“It must have been something,” DeShields said at the time. “He’s a big kid.”
One of the elder DeShields’ first memories of his son concerning baseball came at a family day in Montreal.
“I have a photo of us,” DeShields said. “He’s on my shoulders. He’s got a ball in his hands. That was his first family day. To have it come full circle is pretty special.”
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DeShields and his son often have games at the same time. He said he checks to see how his son did after the Reds games and calls him or sends him a text message. For as long as his kids have played sports, watching them has been almost an agonizing experience for DeShields. His daughter Diamond plays in the WNBA with the Chicago Sky. She’ll be in Cincinnati this weekend along with Delino and his wife Michelle’s other three kids: D’Angelo, Denim and Delaney.
“I really don’t like watching (Delino Jr.) play, to tell you the truth, him or (Diamond),” DeShields said. “I’m the father who would be out in center field just away from it all. I always want my kids to do well. That’s just a father. Of course, we want to win. I’m always pulling for our guys. I want him to do well, too.”
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