As a minor league manager there is nothing more satisfying than telling a ballplayer he is on his way to the big leagues for the first time.
Chris Cron has counseled hundreds of aspiring major league ballplayers in his career and has been able to tell many of his pupils — the last being Avisail Garcia in 2012 — their dream has come true.
“I gave him a big hug before he left and told him I hope I never see him again,” said Cron, who is the Double-A manager for the Erie Seawolves, an affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. “There is no better feeling as a manager.”
Cron might have a change of heart come July 14.
He will get the chance to be in the same professional dugout as his son, C.J., as both have been selected for the U.S. roster for MLB’s 15th annual Futures Games, a showcase of the minor league’s best talent leading up to the All-Star Game.
“It makes it about 10 times more special,” the proud father said. “I’ve been doing this a very long time and I am very excited and honored to be part of the coaching staff, but to have your own kid on the team is something very special.
“For him to be at that level, to have that kind of standing in the game, and be recognized would make any dad proud. The fact that we can be part of it together is a unique and special situation.”
C.J. Cron is in his third year of pro baseball after being selected No. 17 overall by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in 2011.
He is playing for the in Double-A Arkansas Travelers and is fresh off getting two hits for the North Division in the Texas League All-Star Game on June 24.
Cron, 23, is considered the organization’s third best product and continues to swing a big bat. He can’t wait to have his dad see him play in person for the first time in a long time.
“I don’t think he has seen me play since high school,” said the 2008 Mountain Pointe graduate. “We talk every day and he sees my at-bats online or video so he knows what I am doing. He is off doing his thing (managing since 1995) and I am doing mine.
“So getting the chance to put on the same uniform and be in the same dugout is incredible. It should be a special weekend.”
The Crons hope to make it a family weekend as wife/mom, Linda, younger brother and Texas Christian junior-to-be, Kevin, who is playing in the Cape Cod League for the Falmouth Commodores, hope to make the trip to New York for the game at Citi Field.
“We haven’t figured it all out yet, but hopefully it comes together,” said Chris, who will probably be a base coach for the Futures Game. “It’s hard to imagine us having a better chance of all of us getting together at once during the baseball season.”
Chris has won (and lost) more than 1,000 games as a manager and plans on approaching 2,000 if he continues to have a job.
“I love my job and have been in this racket the last 30 years, 20 of them coaching,” said Chris, who had the SeaWolves in second place in the Eastern League’s Western Division at the end of June. “I was fortunate to spend 41 days in the big leagues (as a player) and I am fortunate enough to help today’s player to try and obtain the same goal, but for a longer period. Through all of the ups and downs of a season, I can’t wait to get to the field every day.”
C.J. has moved up a level each year since joining the organization, and has continued to progress. He ended June with a .292 batting average with seven home runs with 51 RBIs with a .333 on-base and a .443 slugging percentage.
“There was some adjustment as the pitching is better each time you (go up a level),” he said. “I made the all-star game and doing OK, but getting a chance in the Futures Game is my biggest (achievement) so far, but it’s just an exhibition. I have to get better each day in our games.
“I want to get to the big leagues, but right now I am just working on being the best player I can be today.”
Until that one day when his manager, something his dad knows all about, can give him a hug and tell him he never wants to see him in his dugout again.
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