As thousands of Babe Ruth leagues start their seasons this month, we wanted to share a story with you on how the game of baseball has bonded a family over the years. From playing Babe Ruth Baseball as young athletes in Woodland, California to chasing their dreams in the Majors, Max and Brock Stassi have established a unique family bond that ties their entire family together through their love of the game.
Max Stassi also participated on the 2008 Babe Ruth League team that participated in the USA Baseball Tournament of Stars in Cary, North Carolina. Teammates included current Major Leaguers Trevor Bauer (Indians) and Andrew Susac (Giants).
Jim and Racquelle Stassi stood behind the Phillies' dugout during Spring Training at Bright House Field, surveying a scene that had them recalling those countless hours spent on baseball fields back home in California.
Their son Max Stassi made the drive with his Astros teammates from Kissimmee to play the Phillies in a Grapefruit League game. He is expected to be Houston's backup catcher in 2016. Their son Brock Stassi is in Phillies camp as a non-roster invitee, fresh off a season that earned him the Double-A Eastern League Most Valuable Player Award.
For the first time since high school, they saw their sons on the same field together.
"It's kind of the culmination of all of those years," Jim Stassi said. "My wife and I said, 'No matter what, we're not going to miss this one.'"
The Stassis are a baseball family. Max and Brock's great, great uncle is Myril Hoag. He played 13 seasons in the big leagues from 1931-45, most notably playing on the Yankees with Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio. Their grandfather played Minor League baseball as well, and their dad, Jim Stassi played in the Giants' system from 1982-83.
Jim coached baseball at Yuba City, California High School for about 25 years. He had Brock, Max and his youngest son, Jake, who played at Long Beach State and Sacramento State, on the same team when Brock was a senior in 2007.
"It's been baseball all the time for us," Brock said.
"It was just a normal household with three boys, I guess you could say," Jim said. "We had holes in the walls from golf balls, a soccer field set up in the living room and things like that."
Max and Brock played together on the same team in winter ball in Puerto Rico this offseason, but obviously Spring Training was different.
This was the big leagues.
"It's pretty special," Max said. "It's kind of something you dream about ever since both of us have been drafted and playing against each other, and finally it's a reality. Even though it's Spring Training, it's still pretty cool growing up, and he's obviously my best friend and cool to be on the same field as him."
Recently, that path led Brock to be on the same field with his younger brother.
"Hopefully he gets up there, and whoever is pitching, we can get the best of him," Max said.
So he knows how to get Brock out?
"Oh yeah, I know all his holes," Max said.
Baseball, a tradition and family bond that begins on Babe Ruth league fields across the nation. We wish each and every one of you success, enjoyment and memorable moments during the 2016 season.