OAKLAND -- When Nick Swisher was six years old, he got to spend his first summer with his dad, Steve Swisher. It was in Waterloo, Iowa, and Steve was managing Class A ball in the Cleveland Indians organization. Nick looked up at his dad in the dugout and told him what his dream was.

"I told him, 'I want to be a Major League Baseball player just like you were,'" Nick said. "That's when I realized this is what I wanted to do."

But Steve, who coached for 15 years and played nine years in the Major Leagues, didn't want Nick to get ahead of himself and he gave Nick advice that he will never forget.

"He told me, 'Hey, that's awesome, but I'm going to tell you one thing -- you're going to have to work for it,'" Nick said. "That's something that I have always just remembered."

Nick said that the whole summer was memorable because he got to spend it shagging balls for the team and, most of all, being with his dad.

"Every seventh inning at the games, I would just fall asleep on top of the bat rack," Nick said. "Maybe that's where I got a little bit of baseball in me."

Nick, who joined the A's in 2004, said he still talks to his dad after each game.

"I have been around this game my whole life," Nick said. "And if it wasn't for him and the things that he has taught me and the things that he has helped me with, I don't think I would be [in the Major Leagues].

"He's been my best buddy, my hero and my idol. [I'm here] because he taught me so much about this game. Not only the on-the-field stuff, but the off-the-field stuff, too. Any time I have a problem with things, I know I can call him and I know he'll be able to help me through the tough times."