GREG HANSEN: 30 for 30: A Father-Son Tale

By Hansen, Greg | AZ Daily Star, August 8, 2012 | Go to article overview

GREG HANSEN: 30 for 30: A Father-Son Tale


Hansen, Greg, AZ Daily Star


AD at IRHS is close to completing tour of major-league ballparks

Phil Tilicki is going to a Diamondbacks game next week, but this time it won't be at Chase Field. It'll be at Minute Maid Park in Houston.

"I'm driving with my son, Easton," says Tilicki, in his first year as Ironwood Ridge High School's athletic director.

Easton? Really?

"Yes," he says with a laugh. "We named him after a baseball bat."

But why would you drive to Houston to watch the D-backs?

"My dad and I have been to baseball games in 29 of the 30 major- league cities. The only one we haven't been to is Houston. So my dad will fly in from Cleveland while Easton and I drive from Tucson. You probably guessed we're a big baseball family."

How big?

While Tilicki was the student manager of the Arizona Wildcats baseball team from 1991 to 1993, he met and married the captain of the school's Bat Girls organization, Niki Bolze.

"She's a big Yankee fan," says Tilicki, who grew up a Cleveland Indians fan in Strongsville, Ohio. "I knew she was marriage material when we were having a conversation and she said, 'Hold on, I've gotta see this play.' The Yankees were on TV."

While Niki, who is now a Tucson elementary school teacher, worked UA baseball games during her undergrad days, she became a baby sitter for ex-Wildcat All-American outfielder Terry Francona.

As the Tilickis made their baseball-tour-of-America, they have been guests of ex-Wildcats J.T.Snow, Scott Erickson, Kevin Long, Billy Owens and, next week, Astros manager Brad Mills.

"We went to see the Twins at the old Minnesota dome, to cross that stadium off our list, and I found out how deep the roots of the Arizona baseball family went," says Phil's father, Roger Tilicki, a retired chemical supplies salesman from Ohio.

"I asked (ex-UA and Twins player) Chip Hale if he could get Phil an autograph from Paul Molitor. Chip brought the signed ball to me in a sanitary sock, saying he didn't want it to get scratched."

Phil Tilicki, who has coached and taught school in the Amphitheater School District for more than a decade, didn't intend to base his Tour of Big League Ballparks out of Tucson. He always thought he'd go back to Ohio and be an Indians fans again.

But after Tilicki's junior college baseball days at Yavapai College in Prescott, Roughriders coach Dave Dangler phoned UA assistant coach Jerry Stitt and recommended he hire Tilicki as part of the Wildcats program. …

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