07/03/2008 12:54 PM ET
Todd Jones: On the road with my son
Tigers closer talks about life on the road with a family
By Todd Jones / MLBPLAYERS.com
In late May, my son Alex had the opportunity to travel with the team and it was a big thrill for him. It was a big thrill for our whole family, really.
Some teams don't allow kids into the clubhouse, but we have a great relationship with our skipper, Jim Leyland, who lets us bring our kids into the clubhouse and onto the field. As long as the kids are taught that it's a privilege and not a right to be in here, it usually works out well.
This was Alex's first road trip with the team, and it was just him and me. We palled around the country for 10 days, going to Anaheim, Seattle and Oakland. We hung out a lot in the hotel and at the stadiums.
We really didn't plan to do much other than live the baseball life. We played video games, chilled out and ordered a lot of room service. Alex watched all of the games from the stands. We both flew commercial. That was a little bit tougher on me, but it was worth it. He stayed with me at the team hotels and we went back and forth to the stadiums together.
We live in Alabama, where school gets out early and starts early. Alex goes back to school the first week of August, so this trip came at the beginning of his summer vacation. The time away was a nice break for my wife, too, because she got a break from having the teenager in the house.
I also have a daughter, Abby, who is 11. When she comes to a game with her mom, we have an understanding that I'm going to bring her ice cream from the clubhouse after the game. That's what she likes the most so far.
Alex enjoys baseball. He plays third base on the seventh-and eighth-grade team back home. When he was a little kid, Alex's favorite player was Mark McGwire. Mark spent some time with him, and Mark has always been one of my favorites as well.
Among the current Tigers, he likes Magglio Ordonez and Marcus Thames. When I was with Florida, he liked Lenny Harris. It's pretty cool to see because he has a totally different relationship than I do with those guys. In some cases, he's been closer to their ages. It's an interesting dynamic.
Raising kids and trying to have a normal family life can be difficult as a player and this was an opportunity to make the most of our situation. Obviously, there are tremendous benefits to being a Major League player, but our wives and kids also make a lot of sacrifices for our careers.
Having changed teams like I have over the years, it can be difficult. You get the news and then you're suddenly off to a different city to join your new team. That really leaves your wife high and dry.
Our wives are often the backbone of our families in baseball. They keep our households in order and when you do change teams they shut things down, sign on for another place in another city and find a place to live.
It's a part of the business you don't hear about very often. Our wives and our families do a lot of things to put us at ease which, in turn, allows us to go out and perform to the best of our abilities every night.
Tigers closer Todd Jones has enjoyed a stellar 16-year big league career. He's approaching the 1,000 games-pitched plateau, and he had his 300th career save near the end of last season. The right-hander has 15 saves in 16 opportunities in 2008.