It's almost Father's Day, so I want to take the opportunity to say Happy Father's Day to my dad, Gary Ward, and to all of the other dads out there.
I talk to my dad a lot during the season, but we don't actually talk baseball that much. He watches every game and records them so he has all of my at-bats. When I make it home for the holidays, we have the time to sit down and go over specific moments and talk about the game in general. I take what we talk about there to Spring Training and set specific goals for myself. Unfortunately, I haven't met any of my goals so far this season, but they are attainable. I just need to get healthy and get some playing time.
Some of the best memories I have of my father are from when he was playing with the Texas Rangers. We kind of lived in Arlington for a while and I remember going to early batting practice and shagging balls for the guys. My dad was teaching me how to play the game, especially the outfield.
I used to take a few lumps here and there from bouncing balls. I don't think people realize how hard a grown man can hit a baseball. Being that young, I couldn't judge the speed and velocity of the balls coming at me. I just assumed the guys hitting were just like me. It took a few bumps and bruises, but I got the hang of it. I had a lot of fun growing up in Major League clubhouses. It allowed me to be comfortable when I was a rookie and coming up in the Majors myself.
My dad and I have a few similarities when it comes to baseball. We both think alike in terms of the game. He helps me out with different situations. He's definitely got the experience factor, but I feel I know a lot about baseball, or close to what he knows.
My dad helps me out with life situations more often than not these days. Little stuff like buying a car or buying a house is what we talk about. There will be times where I try to help him out, too. I don't know if he listens, but I'm trying. We may not always get our points across, but we have a lot of love for each other. That's the most important thing.
I've played for a number of teams, but I haven't played for a team my dad played for. It would be kind of special to maybe one day wear the same uniform as my dad did. Maybe one day, down the line, it will be one of the teams he played for, like the Twins, Tigers or Rangers. I like the idea of the American League because they have the option of the designated hitter. I don't want to finish my career, from 31 years old on, as a pinch-hitter.
When I played for the Pirates and I hit for the cycle in 2004, I was surprised to learn that we are the only father/son combo to hit for the cycle. I didn't know anything about that until I watched SportsCenter that night. My dad called and thanked me for putting us both in the record books.
At first I was taken back a bit. I knew he had done it. When I was getting close, I thought I had a good chance at it. I had a home run, a triple and a double, and it took me my last two at-bats to get that single. I chopped it and it barely made it over the first baseman's head.
Daryle Ward has filled a reserve role in his first year with the Cubs, typically coming in as a pinch-hitter or playing an occasional game at first. A veteran of more than 800 career big-league games with the Astros, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Nationals and Cubs, he is the son of former outfielder Gary Ward, who played 12 seasons from 1979-90 and was a two-time All-Star.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.