Heyward’s dad: Try to be one of best to ever play

heyward.0203

Eugene and Laura's eldest son on Caravan stop at his high school alma mater, Henry County

Lake Buena Vista, Fla. – Spend some time with Eugene and Laura Heyward, and it’s easy to see where their son Jason gets the “mental makeup” that teammates and Braves officials praise as much as  his physical skills.

A few of us talked to the Heywards this morning in the dugout, after they drove down here in the wee hours from Atlanta – they left at 4 a.m., with youngest son Jacob, 14 – to surprise Jason after Friday’s announcement that he’d made the team.

After hitting coach Terry Pendleton came down where we were at the end of the dugout to shake their hands and tell the Heywards what a great kid they raised, I asked Eugene if he was a proud of things like that as he was of Jason’s baseball prowess.

“Absolutely,” he said. “Because that’s what life’s about. It’s about people. If people recognize you for what we try to [instill] in our family … [that] people make the world go round — that’s important to us. It’s always been important.

“As you see, manners take you where money won’t. My grandfather always said that to us. And it works.”

Jason’s immense talent, coupled with maturity and determination, helped him win the Braves’ opening-day right field job at age 20, with just 173 at-bats above Class A. After manager Bobby Cox called Heyward into his office Friday morning and told him the good news, the slugger texted his mom, a quality analyst for Georgia Power in Atlanta.

“I think he said [in the text] that Bobby called him into his office and told him he made the team, and that it’s official,” Laura said. “At first I was like, Wow, I wonder if I can tell anybody? Of course I go online and ….”

She went online and saw the news had already spread. Quickly.

Laura called Eugene at work in Warner Robins, Ga., where he’s an engineering consultant for the Air Force and isn’t permitted to receive texts. His reaction?

“My brain went numb,” he said. “I couldn’t do anything else at work. I immediately stand up, look around and say, ‘That’s it, guys, I’m out of here for today. I’ll be back next week.’

“I just told them I was leaving work for the day. They said, we understand.”

Laura added: “It’s almost like those tears of joy. You don’t really cry, but you feel that emotion. There was a lot of emotion.”

This time last year, he was headed to Myrtle Beach

This time last year, he was headed to Myrtle Beach

They didn’t actually talk on the phone with Jason until about 7:30 p.m., and his conversation with his dad went much like their other regular chats.

“He’s like, ‘Hey dad, you got the word?’” Eugene said, emulating his son’s deep monotone. “Yes, son. Congratulations. ‘Thanks, dad. Appreciate that.’

“I asked him, you having fun still? ‘Yes, sir.’ Love ya. ‘OK, see ya dad.’”

Jason is a large guy — 6 feet 5, 245 pounds — who speaks in a deep voice, but not loudly. (I mentioned to his dad that it was good to know it’s not just with us reporters.)

“You can hear the excitement in his tone, but his volume doesn’t get much higher,” Laura said.

“It’s not to slight you or anything,” Eugene said. “That’s just his temperament.”

His parents had a ballgame to attend yesterday. Two, actually. Jacob’s a freshman first baseman-third baseman at Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy, and his team had a Friday doubleheader. (He had his East Cobb Astros shirt on today, and Braves cap.)

But despite that long day Friday, Eugene and Laura decided they’d surprise their eldest by leaving several hours before sunrise to get to spring training Saturday. It was Laura’s idea.

“She said ‘Let’s do it’ and I said, ‘Nah, let’s wait till he gets here’” to Atlanta next week, Eugene said. “Then we talked to Brian Bridges, a good friend of ours who’s a scout, who helped Jason out when he was in high school. He suggested, ‘Hey, it’s once in a liftetime. Go down and hug that young man.’”

It was not the first smart move Bridges made with Heyward. He’s the scout who signed him.

By the way, intelligence and good sense aren’t all that Jason gets from his Dartmouth-educated parents. It’s also a burning desire to be really good.

Lest you think that being nice and having fun is all that Eugene, an ex-college basketball player, has taught his eldest. Oh, no.

“We try to stress, look, even when you make it, you’re working hard not to just get there,” Eugene said, “but to be one of the best players that ever played the game. That’s the idea.”

OK, couple quick things from today: We’ll post more about each of these items later, but wanted you to know couple of news items in camp today.

– Reliever Manny Acosta was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett today, which cuts the camp roster to 37. Bobby Cox said there would be more moves Sunday and/or Monday, but didn’t say how many more guys would be trimmed from roster before the Braves take it north next Thursday.

Yunel Escobar is out of the lineup for a second day in a row with a sore back, but Cox didn’t seem too concerned about it. “Out of whack in the back,” is how the manager put it. Escobar is quite muscular and has had some back soreness or spasms in the past, like plenty of other players. Usually doesn’t keep him down long.

Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito are both scheduled to pitch today, which would mark the first time either has thrown in back-to-back games this spring.

– Lineup regulars scheduled to make the trip to Viera to face the Nationals on Sunday: Escobar (tentative now), Chipper Jones, Martin Prado, Matt Diaz, Jason Heyward, Nate McLouth.

– It ain’t news, but thought some of you might like to know: Chipper’s wife Sharon was down here for their 10th anniversary this past week. I asked him what he bought her. Jaguar convertible. Niiice.

– OK, was gonna close with the lyrics to the Drive-By Truckers’ “The TVA,” which I saw Jason Isbell do in his terrific solo show Wednesday at Smith’s Olde Bar in Atlanta. But I can’t find the lyrics right away, so I’ll post those later. Here’s one that shows my sentimental side (aww…) with the Heywards in town and all that.

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“THESE ARE DAYS by R. Buck, N. Merchant (10,000 Maniacs)

These are the days, ohh…

These are days you’ll remember

Never before and never since, I promise

Will the whole world be warm as this

And as you feel it, you’ll know it’s true

That you are blessed and lucky

It’s true that you are touched by something

That will grow and bloom in you

These are days you’ll remember

When May is rushing over you with desire

To be part of the miracles you see in every hour

You’ll know it’s true that you are blessed and lucky

It’s true that you are touched by something

That will grow and bloom in you

These are days

These are the days you might fill

With laughter until you break

These days you might feel a shaft of light

Make its way across your face

And when you do you’ll know how it was meant to be

See the signs and know their meaning

You’ll know how it was meant to be

Hear the signs and know they’re speaking

To you, to you

1,243 comments Add your comment

David O'Brien

March 27th, 2010
1:48 pm

Willie Harris just robbed Diaz of double or triple with a catch near the track in right-center, full extended glove and in full stride. Willie kills the Braves, doesn’t he? Again and again, or at least it seems that way.

Scorby Jones

March 27th, 2010
1:50 pm

Great blog!! Thanks for the great story about Heyward’s family – that’s such a nice thing to read about.

SpazzHH

March 27th, 2010
1:52 pm

To those having troubles with the link to today’s game, highlight the WFIS 1600 link, copy link location, and use Winows Media Player to open the link. That was the only way I could get it to work. I’m now listening to the game that way.

McFann

March 27th, 2010
1:53 pm

Thanks for the new Blog, Chief!

Rob Maybe against LHP (kidding)…I know it pains you

Yeah, watch it! Though I’m not sure you quite understood what I meant…

;)

SpazzHH

March 27th, 2010
1:54 pm

CB

March 27th, 2010
1:55 pm

I attended a practice Feb. 25th and met a nice black couple who was watching,seemed to be very intelligent and we had a great conversation. It didn’t occur to me until later that it might be Jason’s parents. I will be interested to see a picture of his parents.,if it was them I understand better why Jason is so nice.

5.7 Hemi Owner

March 27th, 2010
1:56 pm

Thanks for the link Spazz..

David O'Brien

March 27th, 2010
1:59 pm

Zimmerman’s fourth-inning single was the only hit against Jurrjens so far, and no Nat has reached second base. He’s walked two, struck out two through four.

bravefaninok

March 27th, 2010
1:59 pm

DOB was first and did not even say it!

lol Welcome back blog miester.Hope you enjoyed your days off.

5.7 Hemi Owner

March 27th, 2010
2:02 pm

Yeah DOB, you are supposed to say First, Uno, or something like that. Good eyes BravefaninOK. :)

bravo1966

March 27th, 2010
2:02 pm

Chipper walks, McCann up

Rob from SC

March 27th, 2010
2:02 pm

McFann

I get it now

bravo1966

March 27th, 2010
2:04 pm

Glaus, with basehit, Chipper to 3rd

David O'Brien

March 27th, 2010
2:04 pm

Glaus’ two-out single puts runners on corners for Heyward (Chipper singled with one out)

Rob from SC

March 27th, 2010
2:05 pm

Here comes a HR

David O'Brien

March 27th, 2010
2:05 pm

Heyward grounded out 4-3, Bruntlett made nice play on edge of grass toward 1B and threw him out by a half-step.

CB

March 27th, 2010
2:06 pm

Way to jinx him,Rob.

Rob from SC

March 27th, 2010
2:09 pm

McFann

March 27th, 2010
2:09 pm

Rob

:P

What’d BMac do? He didn’t K did he?

bravo1966

March 27th, 2010
2:11 pm

McCann had a pop up to the second baseman.

bravo1966

March 27th, 2010
2:14 pm

Infante with a single.

bravo1966

March 27th, 2010
2:15 pm

Diaz basehit. Runner on first and second no outs.

David O'Brien

March 27th, 2010
2:16 pm

Consecutive singles by Infante and Diaz to start the fifth. Diaz just reached out and pulled one to left field. He ain’t pretty, but he just hits. And hits.

Homer

March 27th, 2010
2:16 pm

Man I’m glad we have a up and coming stud in RF instead of some thrown away retread

McFann

March 27th, 2010
2:17 pm

bravo1966

Thanks!

Blech…I don’t know which is worse…

bravo1966

March 27th, 2010
2:19 pm

Sac bunt by JJ..runners on 2nd and 3rd two out, Cabrera up.

David O'Brien

March 27th, 2010
2:19 pm

After JJ’s sac, Melky groundout scores a run for 1-0 lead in fifth

bravo1966

March 27th, 2010
2:20 pm

Braves up 1-0 on a groundout by Cabrera…man the Nats are flashing some serious leather in this game.

Braves Fan

March 27th, 2010
2:20 pm

Spring Training game. Late in Spring training. Joe West behind the plate.

Better be swinging if its close boys.

Poorbrave

March 27th, 2010
2:22 pm

Great story DOB…Wish the kid the best. Go Braves can’t wait.

David O'Brien

March 27th, 2010
2:23 pm

Jurrjens is out after five innings. I thought he’d go five, but didn’t check to see if that was plan. I’ll let you know if anything’s up, but he looked sharp and didn’t notice any issues last inning, etc.

bravo1966

March 27th, 2010
2:28 pm

Braves starting pitchers have only given up one earned run in 23 innings. WOW!!

5.7 Hemi Owner

March 27th, 2010
2:30 pm

Braves starting pitching is on fire. Keep it up boys.

David O'Brien

March 27th, 2010
2:31 pm

And McCann rumbles around for a double

Braves Fan

March 27th, 2010
2:32 pm

McCann is ready. Geez get him out of there .

bruce

March 27th, 2010
2:32 pm

2bagger for Mac…

bravo1966

March 27th, 2010
2:32 pm

Gapper for McCann. Leadoff double.

Mixxo

March 27th, 2010
2:32 pm

Save some for the season Mac. Dang he’s hot!

MaineBrave

March 27th, 2010
2:34 pm

Great thanks for the updates DOB

Rick

March 27th, 2010
2:34 pm

Today might be the same way the bullpen will set up in regular season – Moylan in 7th, Saito in 8th and Wagner in 9th .

jamin.benr

March 27th, 2010
2:35 pm

Why is bobby sitting McLouth right when he’s gaining his stroke back? Is their a reason i missed?
Earlier this week on ESPN, Aaron Boone labeled jair jurrjens as a fantasy risk! = Laughable . I’d like to hear what maddux and glavine have to say about jair jurrjens! Dude has maddux-esque skills and mentality!

Flatbill Kid

March 27th, 2010
2:36 pm

So our pitching is looking good so far without a doubt. Javy would have made us look even better but oh well. Lowe seems bound and determined to make a statement this year and I like it. I was looking ahead to the Cubs series and just wanted to post a couple of injuries by the cubs that may linger into the opening series. I found this injury list because I read a post about D. Lee getting his back injured due to a chair malfunction in which he fell out of it.

Derrek Lee- Back tightness
Angel Guzman – Shoulder surgery
Ted Lilly – Shoulder surgery
Aramis Ramirez – Sore arm
Alfonso Soriano – Vagin@
Xavier Nady – Elbow
Jeff Gray – Groin

David O'Brien

March 27th, 2010
2:37 pm

Heyward groundout makes him 0-for-3 today, hasn’t hit ball out of infield.

Dan in NJ

March 27th, 2010
2:37 pm

Damn i could’ve sworn it would’ve been Acosta, Sanchez, Dunn. :)

N Nine (etaNINE)

March 27th, 2010
2:37 pm

Heyward N Hanson will bring us a playoff team once again.

MaineBrave

March 27th, 2010
2:38 pm

Cabrera needs more work and won’t make the trip tomorrow that’s why he gets the start instead of Mclovin

David O'Brien

March 27th, 2010
2:38 pm

Infante infield hit drives in second run. His second hit of game. Braves up 2-0

MaineBrave

March 27th, 2010
2:39 pm

Heyward is human

Infante is ready for opening day

jamin.benr

March 27th, 2010
2:39 pm

Omar has got to be one of the best, if not the best utility man in the league….Diaz is incredible!

David O'Brien

March 27th, 2010
2:39 pm

Diaz bleeder of a double through left side of infield

Mixxo

March 27th, 2010
2:41 pm

Omar is one of my favorite players on the roster. A quiet gamer.

McFann

March 27th, 2010
2:41 pm

A double? Wrakarooni! Hasn’t hit one-a those in a while! :)

Keep it going till November, BMac!

Mixxo

March 27th, 2010
2:42 pm

Man in black on the P.A.!

bruce

March 27th, 2010
2:42 pm

ring of fire pretty cool

Couch Tater

March 27th, 2010
2:42 pm

DOB – The radio boys gave some kudos about today’s blog. They said, “your daily blog” and then changed it to “your hourly blog”.

Just a burnin’ ring o’ fire.

Runnin

March 27th, 2010
2:46 pm

Looks like we may lead the league this year in OBP and LOB.

AJ in Augusta

March 27th, 2010
2:46 pm

To all you knuckleheads that complain about DOB’s music on this blog: I’m 52 and just bought the Drive By Truckers “The Big To Do” CD and I love it. Listened to the 1st track “Daddy Learned To Fly” and reminded me of the power guitars of Bachman-Turner Overdrive and the voice of Neil Young! Great listen, DOB! Thanks! See guys, you can teach an old dog….!!!

5.7 Hemi Owner

March 27th, 2010
2:49 pm

Very good read about the Heywards. What a family that is.

David O'Brien

March 27th, 2010
2:49 pm

Funny story that I hadn’t heard until today. Heyward’s dad said Braves have known his son “since he was a baby.” But who was the first scout to really notice him? Braves scout Al Goetz. Eugene Heyward said: “When he was 10, Jason threw a pitch that broke his son’s arm.”

David O'Brien

March 27th, 2010
2:51 pm

Mike Morris Morse just lined a double off the LF wall against Moylan (Remember, Morris Morse hit two homers in a late-September game vs. Braves.)

David O'Brien

March 27th, 2010
2:53 pm

Moylan issues a walk, now runners at first and second with Bruntlett up, one out, Braves ahead 2-0 in seventh

bruce

March 27th, 2010
2:54 pm

peter throws dave for a K

Bayou Brave

March 27th, 2010
2:55 pm

Maybe we can get Heyward to pitch against Ryan Howard…

David O'Brien

March 27th, 2010
2:57 pm

Struck out Bruntlett and Nieves with two out to preserve 2-0 lead

shmoe

March 27th, 2010
2:57 pm

Heyward VS Howard is going to be fun to watch. deliciously fun.

bruce

March 27th, 2010
2:58 pm

Dave — any word you’ve heard or could ask the Nats ink stained wretches about how Chuck James is doing so far.?

Mixxo

March 27th, 2010
2:59 pm

AJ in Augusta – I’m 53 and never complain. Music is “what I do.” DOB and I don’t necessarily share the same likes (New Americana), but I like some of his suggestions. I’m partial to more interesting UK rock for the most part. I’ll have to check out the DBT’s, what I’ve heard…..I’ve liked. Anything but “country pop!” Ugh!

Brave in DC

March 27th, 2010
2:59 pm

DiamondbackMac

March 27th, 2010
2:59 pm

Moylan and O’Flaherty looking great this spring.

cabravesfan

March 27th, 2010
3:02 pm

I love it- the ABC Family channel movie event tonight is Independence Day…because nothing says “Family” like a movie about invading aliens, death and world destruction :evil:

David O'Brien

March 27th, 2010
3:02 pm

In answer to Chuck James question: I’m told he’s doing well with Nats, but he’s been in minor league camp. Will begin season pitching for their Triple-A team. But he’s pitching not DLing

David O'Brien

March 27th, 2010
3:05 pm

Saito in to pitch

bruce

March 27th, 2010
3:06 pm

Dave –Thanks! that is fabulous news on Chuck James.

JesupBrave

March 27th, 2010
3:09 pm

How bout the starters in the last 4 games, 1 earned run!!!! We get some power this year and we have a great shot at the playoffs

JesupBrave

March 27th, 2010
3:14 pm

is Nate playing today? if so, how is he doing

demarcus

March 27th, 2010
3:15 pm

So who gets the last 2 pitching jobs. i think based on performance it will be JO JO and Kimbrel and Proctor will be brought up in a couple weeks and Thurston gets the Utility job

JesupBrave

March 27th, 2010
3:19 pm

i think it will be Conrad because he is a swith hitter, neither will play that much hopefully though so it won’t matter much since we have Omar as our main man off the bench

5.7 Hemi Owner

March 27th, 2010
3:21 pm

I will go with Venters over Reyes for LHP and Kimbrel over Chavez for RHP then Kimbrel will get sent down or if he is doing well then another pitcher will be sent down to make room for Proctor when he is ready.

Thurston will be the utility player I believe. It may go in Conrad’s favor though because he is already on the 40 man roster.

darn

March 27th, 2010
3:23 pm

just saw where FOX has cancelled “24″

demarcus

March 27th, 2010
3:23 pm

Reyes has outplayed Venters though and has been fairly impressive. He has improved greatly from before but it is just ST

jim

March 27th, 2010
3:24 pm

updates on the game?

darn

March 27th, 2010
3:25 pm

bruce

March 27th, 2010
3:26 pm

bruce

March 27th, 2010
3:31 pm

3-0 braves going into the 9th, wagner pitching 9th

bruce

March 27th, 2010
3:32 pm

darn — so maybe Dave should ask Nate if the news on 24 is a setback

JoeDirt

March 27th, 2010
3:33 pm

who is pitching the ninth? wagner?

demarcus

March 27th, 2010
3:33 pm

DOB, how did Saito look to you? Seemed like he did decent even though he gave up the walk and single

jamin.benr

March 27th, 2010
3:34 pm

AJ in Augusta — Drive by Truckers playing here in nyc on thursday , going to be great time!
been hooked since southern rock opera …

Brave in DC

March 27th, 2010
3:34 pm

I hope there are a lot of games where we are up 3-0 and going into the 9th…..goog pitching, timely hitting. That was the recipe in ‘95.

bruce

March 27th, 2010
3:34 pm

morse on 2nd for Nats two outs

bruce

March 27th, 2010
3:36 pm

my bad its 4-0 braves… game over

jamin.benr

March 27th, 2010
3:36 pm

canceled 24 —- seriously?

Rick

March 27th, 2010
3:36 pm

I think WFIS forgot that the ballgame was still going and left the signal !

JoeDirt

March 27th, 2010
3:36 pm

anyone with the play by play?

AJ in Augusta

March 27th, 2010
3:38 pm

Have a good time, Jamin.benr!

Runnin

March 27th, 2010
3:40 pm

Wagner gave up 1 hit with no Ks or BBs in 1 inning. according to the box score

Brian

March 27th, 2010
3:43 pm

Chipper better buy his wife a jaguar, u gotta do wut u gotta do—when you cheat on your wife w/ a hooters girl.

Glad we got some faces for the club in the future..w/ hanson and heyward

Heath

March 27th, 2010
3:43 pm

Just finished All About Steve….it wasn’t bad. An average movie.

Rick

March 27th, 2010
3:45 pm

I hope WFIS pays more attention to what they are doing during the regular season . They left the game after 8 innings and went to PSA ads and Neal Boortz .

Gil In Mechanicsville

March 27th, 2010
3:45 pm

Brian… That’s so yesterday.. What are you, 12?

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