06/18/2010 1:08 PM ET
Heyward: Happy Father's Day, Dad
Braves rookie sensation has learned a lot from his father
For me, my dad is a little bit of everything. He's a great friend; he's someone I can talk to and, at the same time, he's someone who can push me to be the best I can be. In short, he prepared me mentally for the things I would be facing in my life.
When I was younger, my dad, Eugene, was influential both on and off the field. On the field, he was always one of my coaches while I was growing up. He would always tell me that when we're on the field, he's a coach and not my dad. He always treated me like everyone else. He would do everything to help me develop as a player, but to also get me around the best people in the game.
My dad taught me to enjoy what I was doing. If you enjoy what you're doing, it makes it easier to work at being the best.
He did all of this while holding down a full-time job. He would get up at 3 a.m., make the 90-minute drive to work, come home, pick me up from school, help me with my homework, and when that was all done, we would go play ball. He made a lot of sacrifices for me.
To this day, my dad still works hard. He's as an electronics engineer on an Air Force base in Georgia.
The fact that I come from a military family, I feel, has helped my discipline. My dad's side of the family is definitely military-oriented with a big background in the Marines. I grew up in a very structured environment. I was raised to say 'no sir, yes sir, no ma'am, yes ma'am.' I learned at an early age to respect people.
I have great respect for all our men and women in the military. They're doing things to keep up safe, so we don't have to worry when we go to sleep at night.
My dad was a great athlete, too. In high school he played about every sport imaginable. After that, he played basketball at Dartmouth College.
My dad is having a lot of fun this year watching me play ball. He's really enjoying it, trying to come to as many games as he can. I'm just very thankful for that, and I know he is too. I'm very proud that I'm able to show him that all of his hard work has paid off.
Jason Heyward is enjoying a standout rookie year, hitting 10 home runs and contributing 25 extra-base hits while driving in 43 runs, second most on his club, entering the weekend. Born in Ridgewood, N.J., Jason and his family moved to the Atlanta suburb of McDonough, Ga., in 1991, just weeks after the Braves played in the World Series against the Twins. He was Atlanta's first-round pick in 2007.