Best Dad Moments in Sports

Matt Haupert@@matthaupFeatured ColumnistJune 13, 2014

Best Dad Moments in Sports

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    On behalf of everyone in America who has ever had a father, I'd like to say: Thanks, Dad.

    You see, there's something uniquely special about the relationships fathers share with their children—and sometimes, the best aspects of these relationships are revealed through sports.

    I, for one, can certainly attest.

    As a kid, my dad would play basketball with me in our driveway, but in doing so he would teach me lessons about dignity, pride and respect.

    My dad took me to my first baseball game and showed me that he was not just a mentor but a friend.

    My dad calmly smiled as I ripped up sports page after sports page during my embittered childhood as a Chicago Cubs fan, reminding me that though it hurt to lose, the best part was that we got to watch the game together.

    Over the years, we've witnessed innumerable inspiring moments across the sports world of loving fathers and their beloved children. We're going to celebrate those moments today.

    This Father's Day weekend, we tip our hats both to the dads in this slideshow and the dads we're lucky to call our own. 

Griffey and Griffey Hit Back-to-Back Home Runs

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    Every little boy grows up wanting to be just like dad.

    They want to dress like dad, go to work like dad, read the newspaper like dad, drink coffee in the morning like dad—you get the picture.

    When your dad is a Major League Baseball player, he becomes an even bigger idol. Ken Griffey Jr. didn't just want to go to work like his dad, Ken Griffey Sr., he wanted to hit home runs like his dad.

    Who knew he'd be able to do it on the same team and in the same inning?

    On September 14, 1990, Griffey Sr. and Griffey Jr. hit back-to-back home runs during a ballgame, becoming the only father-son duo to homer in the same game.

    Like father, like son.

The Harbaugh Bowl

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    I never had a lot of success as a Little League baseball player.

    I couldn't really throw fast. I never got on base unless I walked. I only made contact with the ball a few times throughout my childhood.

    Nevertheless, I always felt like I did enough to make my dad proud.

    Fathers are proud of their sons for simple things: getting a B instead of a C in chemistry, placing sixth in the school spelling bee, almost making the varsity football team.

    Imagine how proud a father would be if his son was a football coach who took a team all the way to the Super Bowl.

    Now imagine how proud a father would be if he had two sons, and they both took teams all the way to the Super Bowl—in the same year. Indeed, when brothers Jim and John Harbaugh faced off in Super Bowl XLVII on February 3, 2013, their father, Jack, got to experience something pretty special.

    Neither of the Harbaugh parents had any preference in this game on football's biggest stage. Regardless of the outcome, Jim and John were making their father the proudest man on Earth, and that's an accomplishment that can't be topped.

Pat Cash Climbs Through Wimbledon Crowd

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    Australian tennis star Pat Cash could think of only one person with whom he wanted to share the sublime joy of winning the 1987 Wimbeldon title: his dad.

    Cash, always the rebellious stick-it-to-the-man type, climbed right into the stands after winning the match—asking nobody for permission—and walked straight to his parents, whom he embraced tightly.

    This has now become somewhat of a tradition. Since 1987, multiple tennis stars have celebrated their Wimbledon victories by climbing up to their loved ones watching from the seats above.

    It all started with Cash, who refused to be denied the simple pleasure of sharing the greatest accomplishment of his life with the people who loved him the most.

    Always thank your parents, folks—whether it's by making a phone call, sending an email or climbing through a crowd to give them a hug while the entire world watches.

Drew Brees Celebrates with His Son

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    I think it's safe to say that Drew Brees and his 1-year-old son, Baylen, had the coolest "Take-Your-Child-to-Work Day" on the planet.

    After an exhilarating 31-17 victory over the Colts in Super Bowl XLIV on February 7, 2010, that brought pride back to the city of New Orleans, Brees went straight for his boy to include him in the glory of the moment.

    Obviously, Baylen did not fully understand the magnitude of what his father had just accomplished, but there was no question that he was experiencing something special. As Brees lifted him into the air, he gazed around with a beautiful sense of awe and wonder, even raising his hand for what looked like a little wave to the crowd.

    At the time, winning the Super Bowl was probably the single greatest accomplishment of Brees' young life. Holding the Lombardi Trophy in his arms, however, could never compare to the feeling of holding his only son—and that's what makes sports great.

    One day, Baylen will watch this video and understand this special moment. Until then, Happy Father's Day, Drew.

Nastia Liukin Wins One for Dad

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    At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, American gymnast Nastia Liukin accomplished what her father, Valeri, had missed out on by less than one-tenth of a point 20 years earlier while competing for the Soviet Union: taking home the all-around gold medal.

    Valeri, of course, was there to see it.

    He was her coach.

    Despite being doubted her entire life, always being compared to gymnasts who were better, more talented and more accomplished than she was, Nastia finally came out on top on the world's biggest stage.

    At the 1988 Games, Valeri was within reach of the same accomplishment, but he stumbled on one landing and went home with the silver.

    Liukin was well aware of her father's past and the significance of her victory, telling Alyssa Roenigk of ESPN The Magazine, "[My father] was so close to winning that all-around gold medal. I hope I made up for that. I hope he is as proud of this as I am."

    I'll bet that watching his daughter climb to the top of the podium felt twice as sweet as if he had been up there himself.

Team Hoyt

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    The very best thing about dads is that they never, ever, ever give up on their children—and there has been no better example of this in the history of sports than Team Hoyt.

    Dick and Rick Hoyt are a father-and-son pair known for running thousands of races together, including triathlons, Ironmans, and the Boston Marathon an incredible 32 times.

    There's a catch: Rick, the son, is a quadriplegic with cerebral palsy.

    Gina L. Diorio of tells their inspirational story:

    As a result of oxygen deprivation, Rick was diagnosed as a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy. Told that Rick had no chance of recovery, his parents were advised to institutionalize him as he would be a ‘vegetable’. But they refused. Instead, they brought him home and determined to give him normal childhood experiences.

    At age 12, Rick was able to begin communicating with the help of a speech device. One day, he told his father that he wanted to participate in a 5-mile race to help a teenager who had been paralyzed in an accident. There was one big obstacle, though – Dick was not a runner. Nevertheless, he agreed to push his son’s wheelchair for the entire race. After the race, Rick told his dad, 'Dad, when I’m running, it feels like I’m not handicapped.' With that race and that statement, Team Hoyt was born.

    The story of Team Hoyt is a story of hope. It's a story of determination and a story of finding a way to believe in the unbelievable. It's a story about a kid who was told that he wasn't even worth his parents' time and energy.

    A vegetable.

    A "vegetable" who refused to accept that he was a vegetable and battled and hoped and believed and ran and finally found the one place in the world where he was no different than anyone else.

    The father-son team kept running and running all the way into Rick's adult life, long after he had graduated from college and moved out into his own apartment.

    Sports and family are powerful things, my friends, and when they work in conjunction, miracles can happen.

Robinson Cano's Dad Pitches Home Run Derby

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    Every little boy reaches the age where it's time to start beating dad—and beating dad fairly—in sports. The ultimate achievement, of course, is hitting a home run against your old man.

    Robinson Cano did this over and over and over again en route to winning the 2011 Home Run Derby.

    Cano's father, Jose, serves up pitches for the young star on a regular basis, so bringing him in to pitch for the derby was a no-brainer. In fact, Robinson even gave his father some credit, as reported by Yahoo Sports. Cano said after the event: "The best thing wasn't my swing, ... It was the kind of man who was throwing — my dad. He knows me really well."

    I guess there are probably very few people who do know you better than your own dad—and probably nobody that would be more special to share a victory with.

Derek and Jim Redmond: 1992 Summer Olympics

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    No matter how much you accomplish, no matter how far you climb, no matter how long you stand alone at the very top of the world, there will still come a time when you need your parents to lean on.

    Sprinter Derek Redmond learned this in the most painful way possible at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain.

    Redmond, who had battled injuries before, was running his heart out and slowly inching toward the lead in the 400-meter dash when suddenly his hamstring gave out and he collapsed on the track with the world watching.

    His father, Jim, witnessed this from the stands and did the only thing a good father could do: He raced to the track to help his son.

    "I could accept the fact that my son was injured, but not that he was going to carry on in pain," said Jim, via The Guardian.

    Jim helped his son stand up, and the two walked to the finish line together, refusing to give up or let the medical staff stop them.

    While Derek Redmond fought through pain all the way to the finish line, unable to hold back tears, his father stood tall and reminded the world that whenever you fall, no matter how hard, your parents are there to pick you back up.


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