by Josh Ouellette, SWX Content Coordinator - email
Ryan Garvey has played in many of the places his father frequented in his own professional journey.
SPOKANE, Wash. -- There have been a lot of father-son combinations in Major League Baseball history. Ken Griffey Sr. and Jr., Cecil and Prince Fielder, Tom and Dee Gordon, The Hariston dynasty all the way from Sammy to Scott. The Spokane Indians even have Tim and Tug Hulett as a father-son duo to make it to the show.
Hopefully soon there will be another pair of names to add to the list. Steve and Ryan Garvey.
Everyone knows who Steve Garvey is on the west coast. The 16-year pro spent his entire career in the National League West between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres. A 10-time All-Star and the 1974 National League MVP, Garvey was also part of the 1970 Spokane Indians squad that some have called the greatest team in minor league history.
While Spokane was the final stepping stone that catapulted Steve Garvey into the majors, it is the same place where Ryan Garvey will try and make a name for himself in the adolescence of his career when the Tri-City Dust Devils play game two of a three game Northwest League visit to Avista Stadium on Wednesday, June 9th.
“My dad is my dad,” Garvey said. “That’s who my dad is, is Steve Garvey. I don’t really to think about it that much I just try to play ball how I know how to play ball and try to be my own player. That’s how I’ve always thought about it.”
And even though Ryan is setting off on his own career path, he knows emulating his father will put him in a good spot to make it to the big leagues one day.
“Looking back at his stats [in Spokane] it’s just like, ‘man, that’s my dad playing. That’s my dads stats,’” Garvey said. “It’s kind of tough to live up to those stats, but I’ll just play ball as hard as I can and hopefully I can touch those.”
But playing in the minors hasn’t accomplished the younger Garvey’s dream of playing professionally like his father did. He wants to make it all the way.
“Just to be in the majors is something beyond imaginable,” Garvey said. “Just having the opportunity to play there is a blessing. Being able to have that fresh cut grass everyday and playing with thousands of fans everyday. There’s nothing like it. Having the team camaraderie like big leaguers is something you dream about. Hopefully one day I work hard enough to get there.”
Ryan Garvey’s chances are pretty high. There have been over 200 sons to make it to the big league after their father’s did.
But just like their fathers, all of those sons had to pay their own dues and make their own stops on the way to playing on the ultimate stage. Ryan Garvey knows that his father’s time with the Spokane Indians was a pivotal time in his career before joining the Dodgers full time and knows Steve Garvey remembers Spokane fondly.
“He doesn’t have a lot of time in the minors. But what he says about [Spokane] is that it’s a great place to play and just by looking at the stadium, it’s a great stadium. And just looking at the seats, I’m sure you guys get a lot of fans down here. So, it’s going to be fun to play [here] and he said had a ball playing here.”
Playing in the Northwest League actually isn’t the first time Garvey has followed in his father’s footsteps. Both also spent time in the Pioneer League circuit as part of their first professional stops. Steve Garvey with the Ogden Dodgers in 1968 and Ryan Garvey with the Grand Junction Rockies the past two seasons before joining the Dust Devils this year.
“That’s pretty much what my minor league career has been about,” Ryan Garvey said. “Playing where he’s been playing. His first at bat he struck out. I struck out. His first home run was to left center at Idaho Falls. My first home run was over the scoreboard at Idaho Falls. So it’s kind of been weird, it’s been really weird.”
One of the reasons Ryan Garvey can be successful and play in the MLB like his father did will be due to the wisdom that only a former major league player can depart onto his child.
“He tells me, ‘Don’t think, just play ball. It’s just a game.’” Garvey said. “I think this is the hardest part when you’re playing out here and it’s your job now. It’s not like you are playing tee ball or coach pitch where it’s just fun, who cares what you do at the plate; it’s just a game. That’s what I think a lot of us players do, we over think the game and it shouldn’t be that hard. When we think our hands aren’t getting through, or here is a curveball and we’re guessing pitches. We’ve just got to let the game take its course and think about it as a game again, and not just as our job.”
It seems the 21-year old outfielder has taken his father’s words to heart and has some excellent advice of his own for players at any level of the game.
Today, Wednesday June 9th, Steve Garvey will throw out the first pitch at Avista Stadium before his son faces his former team in a rival’s uniform, and Ryan Garvey is looking forward to the memory.
“Usually I get to see him throw first pitches all the time when I’m not playing,” Garvey said. “But it’s going to be nice to see him throw out the first pitch while I’m playing.”
Just like any son, Garvey wants his dad to make him proud when he takes the mound in ceremonial fashion on Wednesday.
“I hope he throws a strike,” Garvey said. “If he doesn’t I’m going to give him a hard time.”