On Sunday, June 20, fathers and their children will gather around the barbecues while keeping tabs of the action on the baseball diamond as the Mets wrap up the final game of this year’s Subway Series versus the Yankees.
For Mets starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey, 26, who has had a phenomenal start to the 2010 season posting a 9-1 record through his first 13 starts, that day will be a little extra special.
Pelfrey will be celebrating his First Father’s day with his son Chase Michael Pelfrey, who was born on August 6, 2009. “Big Pelf,” as the star right-hander is affectionately known to Mets fans, sat down with The Queens Courier (TQC) and talked about fatherhood, how his life has changed during the past year and what the future holds.
TQC: What has the first year of being a dad been like?
MP: It’s been great. The coolest part is watching him discover that he has hands and he has ears, watching him learn to crawl, start babbling, and now he’s pulling himself up and trying to build up enough courage to start walking…so it’s pretty cool to see that stuff.
TQC: What’s the best part about being a dad?
MP: I come home every night from the game and I walk in the door, and he’s always in the living room. He looks up at me and he screams and gets excited and crawls as fast as he can over to me. I think when he was born it was love at first sight. It’s almost indescribable the feelings that you have, and they seem to get stronger every day. Every day I see him, and you want the best for him. It’s amazing to be around.
TQC: What’s been the biggest change in your life since having a child?
MP: I think it’s the work. My wife and I, our time together is less and less. You have to try to find that time to be alone together because when you have a son it’s tough. You’re pretty much on his schedule. Sleep patterns are crazy; he’s still not sleeping throughout the night. But, my wife has been mom of the year, and she pretty much takes care of everything, so I’m pretty lucky.
TQC: What was your relationship like with your dad?
MP: [My parents] got a divorce when I was young. I don’t think we got really back in contact until I was 16, so those years from 2 to 16 we were never really together. We never had a relationship with him so it was tough. I always had a stepdad who I called dad and who was always there for us, and he made sure that we had everything that we needed.
TQC: Do you think about having that first catch with your son?
MP: For me, my son can’t grow up fast enough, and for my wife, he’s growing up too fast. I can’t wait to take him out in the yard, start playing catch with him, back him down to the hoop playing basketball and block his shot. I’m a competitor; it’s going be hard for me to let him win. The other day we were in Milwaukee, and there was a player throwing Wiffle ball to his kid, and I got jealous. I said, ‘I want to be able to do that, I want my son to do that.’
TQC: How tough is it being away from him on road trips?
MP: It’s tough. Early on when I went to spring training we were about three weeks in and I hadn’t seen my son. When I first saw him it was almost like he didn’t remember me, and it was a little awkward. He was probably six or seven months at the time. That’s the toughest thing, but once the season started and we go on those road trips and I got back home, he’s the same guy again. He’s excited and screaming [when he sees me].
TQC: You were able to be at the hospital with your wife when Chase was born?
MP: It was probably the greatest emotional feeling you ever have. I like to think I’m pretty tough, and I cried. I cried my eyes out. When I saw the top of his head, tears started coming. I describe it as love at first sight and ever since then whenever he’s around the world stops moving, and he’s the only thing that matters.
TQC: Any special plans for Father’s Day?
MP: I don’t know. I told my wife not to make too big of a deal out of it. I know growing up we didn’t always celebrate a lot of holidays. We didn’t make a big deal out of birthdays, but I know her family does. I’m sure she’s going to get a card and sign Chase’s name to it.
TQC: How did you guys come up with the name Chase?
MP: We always had all these names, and I always joked around with her about Michael Jr., but I was never really serious. She told me I could have had it if I really wanted it. I think in the end, she found the name Chase, and we went through the whole list and when we brought Chase up I said I really liked that name. As long as nobody brings up about Chase Utley that was fine.