Dad still No. 1 on Kazmir's phone list
With 40,000 in the stands, the pitcher hears father cheer
The neighbors knew that whenever the Kazmir family car pulled out of the driveway, Scott Kazmir and his father were off on another adventure together. Whether it be one of Scott's countless baseball games or fishing trips the duo set out on, Eddie Kazmir has always been there for his son.
And he isn't shy about letting Scott and everyone within earshot know that, either.
Shortly after Scott signed with the New York Mets, his father took a trip to take in a Florida State League game. Watching his youngest son play professional ball after cheering him on through hundreds of Little League games had the older Kazmir a little more excited than usual ... and very, very vocal.
"He was so amped," Scott recalled. "He didn't realize it, but he was calling all the pitches: 'Throw the fastball, Scott! Throw the fastball!'
"And I got into the dugout that inning and the manager said, 'You gotta tell your dad to pipe down a little bit, he's calling all your pitches and he's messing with us right now, it's like he's for the other team.'"
It's just a joke between them, said Scott, laughing at the memory, because that event describes his father's place in his life right down to the letter.
"It doesn't matter if there's 40,000 fans in the crowd, I can hear him," Scott said.
It's always been that way. Growing up as a youth in Houston, Scott said even though his father worked full-time, he still managed to attend nearly all of Scott's year-round baseball tournaments, in-state or out. If they had a weekend off on the game schedule, they were off on a fishing trip.
Eddie coached his son starting in Little League, though when Scott got older he chose to become a fan and a dad rather than continue to head the teams. But that doesn't mean his presence faded any. When Scott first left home after high school, he'd call his parents after every game. Sometimes, if he could sneak away long enough, he'd phone during the game after his outing, to rehash the night with his father who, Scott said, is still "very, very, very, into it."
"I knew if I didn't talk to him as soon as possible afterward, I would get calls all night," Scott said with a smile.
A few years have passed since the FSL and Scott's now on the big stage as Tampa Bay's No. 1 pitcher. His family travels to see him when it can, and there's always the obligatory phone call to dad after every start. Catching a game just every once in a while, though, is obviously not enough to satisfy Eddie.
"They've got all the technology at home, of course," Scott said. "The cable baseball package, the little Internet thing, everything. He wouldn't miss it. Sometimes it seems like he's more nervous and more into it than me."
The Kazmirs are planning a family vacation to see Scott pitch for the Rays, and although he wasn't sure exactly when they will show, Scott knows all he has to do is turn an ear to the crowd and listen for a familiar voice.
"I was fortunate to have him with me pretty much everywhere we went," Scott said. "He's always been there for me, no matter what. It's just a great thing to have."
Dawn Klemish is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.