|Yankee pitcher Joba Chamberlain's dad sees him as a Yankee for first time|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 07 September 2007 18:50|
``It's great to see you, Mr. Chamberlain,'' Derek Jeter said.
``Nice to meet you, sir,'' said Alex Rodriguez. ``Will you be here all weekend? You will? That's terrific.''
Stricken with polio at the age of 9 months, confined to his scooter, deaf in one ear and without full use of his left arm, Harlan Chamberlain still raised his son as a single dad.
On Friday, only about a year after another health crisis, Harlan and ``a ton'' of friends and family made the three-hour drive from their home in Lincoln, Neb., to see Joba and the Yankees play the Kansas City Royals.
For the first time since Joba's quick rise to the big leagues this year, he saw the 100 mph rookie sensation pitch in the major leagues. With tears rolling down Harlan Chamberlain's cheeks, Joba entered in the seventh and pitched two scoreless innings to preserve the lead in the Yankees' 3-2 win.
``I'm just as proud as I can be of him, to have him be a part of this storied organization,'' Harlan Chamberlain said before the game. ``This is great. I've watched him pitch hundreds of times. But on a stage such as this, this is awesome.''
The two clowned around before the game, with Joba tenderly putting his arms around his dad's neck and mugging for cameras. It was clear this father-son combination is very close.
``If I can be half the man and half the father he was, I'll be very, very happy and have a great life,'' said Joba, who hasn't allowed a run in his first 11 major league appearances.
Despite his physical limitations, Harlan always made time to play catch with his son growing up.
``He was out there after work, and doing the things he did with one arm. We made do with what we had,'' said Joba.
``He's a good dude. To be given what he was given and never to bat an eye, never look back. He worked at a prison for 27 years. To have that respect in the community and in his workplace is special.''
As he looked around at the stars, the elder Chamberlain admitted somewhat sheepishly that he used to give his son pitching tips as a kid.
``I don't say squat now,'' he grinned. ``What I know about pitching will fit in a thimble. What I don't know will fit in the Smithsonian.''
But when it came to disciplining a youngster growing up, the dad never hesitated to speak his mind. And Joba, he recalled with obvious pride, never failed to listen.
``I forbid him to throw a curveball when he was growing up,'' he said. ``And he never did. He's always respected me.''
How often do father and son talk now that he's with the Yankees, playing alongside All-Stars such as Jeter, A-Rod, Roger Clemens, Mariano Rivera and Robinson Cano?
``Every day,'' said Harlan. ``We've always been close.''
``There was a time when he was a sophomore in high school that he didn't like not making a higher-level team. I just told him you've got to be patient because all of his peer group was growing, and he wasn't. I didn't know if he'd stay with it. My word to him was you've got to be patient and you've got to work. And he did.''
Friends and family are trying to figure a way for Harlan to fit his scooter into a passenger jet and travel to New York later this month for the Yankees' final home series of the regular season, against Toronto.
``We're trying to work out the logistics. Actually, truth be known, I'm looking more forward to being in Yankee Stadium and going to Monument Park,'' Harlan Chamberlain said. ``I want to see Joba pitch and see him in pinstripes.
``The thing that really touches me the most is when he's in the dugout, that he can be with these people, Jeter and Cano and all those people, and think about this is where Babe Ruth played, and Joe DiMaggio. I grew up Mantle and Maris. Now my son's a part of that.''
Yankee manager Joe Torre joined the players in going up to introduce himself and telling the father how proud they are of his son.
``The stock has to be somewhere,'' Torre said. ``It has to come from the home roots, and I mentioned that to his dad. His dad, evidently, pretty much let him develop into what he was going to be. But he certainly didn't offer him any easy way out.''