Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ortiz: Bader, Father Take the Ride of a Lifetime

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ortiz: Bader, Father Take the Ride of a Lifetime

Article excerpt

As fate would have it, Louis Bader was in Memphis on Tuesday when his son Harrison got the call he'd been dreaming of since his father started throwing batting practice to him when he was 5 years old.

Class AAA Memphis manager Stubby Clapp had just told Harrison he was headed to the majors to start in center field for the Cardinals, and Harrison was eager to let his father know.

Louis was in the shower, though, when he heard his phone ring a little after 10:30 a.m. Louis let the first call go to voice mail, but Harrison didn't want to deliver such important news in a message. Harrison dialed again a second later. Louis missed that call too, so Harrison immediately tried again.

When Louis finally answered, Harrison asked him to come down from his hotel room to meet him for breakfast. Harrison kept the news to himself until his father met him. That's when he took out his smart phone and lifted it high enough for both of them to take a photo.

"We're going to the major leagues," Harrison shouted as he captured the moment in a selfie.

There wasn't much time for breakfast, though. Harrison had been told to be ready in 15 minutes so that a car service could drive him to St. Louis. Naturally, Harrison asked his dad to join him on the ride.

"Obviously it means the world to me," Bader said. "That's my father. He was there every step of the way since Little League. We've talked about this moment since I was 6 years old. It's here, so let's go out and play baseball. It's fun."

Despite a job as Verizon's lead legal counsel in New York, Louis Bader usually rushed home to Bronxville, N.Y., to pitch batting practice or hit grounders to his son in the evening.

There weren't many fields in their exclusive village, so they often would have batting practice against a fence. As Harrison told me this spring and reiterated on Tuesday, Louis always was there for him.

Harrison credits his father with instilling his fearless demeanor at the plate by often hitting him with pitches.

Louis never threw at Harrison's head, but his son bristled nonetheless often after his dad plunked him. He didn't cower from the plate, though.

That fearlessness was evident when Harrison confidently strolled into the Busch Stadium home clubhouse Tuesday, for the first time, at 3:36 p.m.

"You just play baseball, day by day," he said before the Cardinals' second game of a three-game series against the Rockies. "Nah, no time to be nervous. No time to be nervous. Just go out there and play ball, man. In front of a home crowd, too. That's awesome. I can't wait."

With his dad sitting in section 152, Harrison received a hearty ovation before he led off the second inning with a groundout to short, almost beating the throw in his first big league at-bat. He got his first hit, in the ninth, a leadoff double in a 2-2 game and completed the storybook day by scoring the winning run on a short sacrifice fly to right field by Jedd Gyorko. …

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