Baseball a family affair for Farrell and sons
Red Sox skipper proud to have seen all three boys taken in First-Year Player Draft
When John Farrell's son Luke was drafted by the Kansas City Royals last week, it completed a trifecta that not many fathers can brag about.
The manager of the Red Sox -- a former Major League pitcher in his own right -- has watched all three of his sons get selected in the First-Year Player Draft in recent years.
And sons Jeremy, Shane and Luke have all taken entirely different paths, albeit in the same industry in which their father has spent much of his life.
Luke Farrell was nabbed by the Kansas City Royals in the sixth round, one pick after the Red Sox selected.
Back when John Farrell was drafted, he likely had to pick up the phone and call his parents to tell them of the news. But times have changed greatly. John was watching on MLB.com's Draft Tracker when his son's surreal ride of the last few years culminated with his selection by the Royals.
The emotions flooded the proud father, who couldn't help but think of more trying times, when Luke was confined to a hospital. Not once, but twice Luke had to have large tumors removed from his neck.
The tumors were benign, but they still required invasive procedures and unsavory treatments such as radiation.
"As his season unfolded, it was looking more and more like he was going to get selected," said John. "Who that was, you never know. But in that moment of him being selected, there was probably a flash of the last four years of what has transpired with him.
"And all that came to a head just as you look back -- my wife [Sue] and I just being able to look back at the challenges that he's met, and it was a really cool thing to see it finally come together for him. And lo and behold, he's drafted the highest of the three of them."
Neither John nor Luke seemed to mind that the Red Sox didn't select Luke when they had the chance.
"I think he had conversations with the Red Sox's area scout," said John. "And there were discussions internally -- all things being equal, what would you prefer? I defer to [the Red Sox and Luke]. And [my sons] want to earn ... whatever they get, they want to earn on their own merit."
When Luke was a standout at Northwestern, his dad simply couldn't be there for many of the games. His job made that impossible.
"In Luke's four years there, I think I saw him pitch twice," John said. "I happened to catch some video clips. I complimented Tim Stoddard, a former big league pitcher. He's the pitching coach there, and he did a great job with his delivery. It's good to see it all come together for him."
Jeremy Farrell was the first Farrell son to get drafted, first in 2005 by the Rockies in the 41st round, and then out of the University of Virginia by the Pirates as an eighth-rounder in 2008.
Like many Minor Leaguers, Jeremy has struggled to this point to reach his dream. But his father admires his perseverance. Jeremy was released by the Pirates at the end of Spring Training this year and picked up by the White Sox.
"He's swinging the bat well," John said. "Unfortunately, because of the release and signing a week after Spring Training, the only spot they found ... he's back in the Carolina League. He was named to the All-Star team, and [he is] swinging the bat well. But in his mind, he's still playing the game. He's still working towards a dream. It has him at a place right now that he would like be a little further along."
And how does that all make Dad feel?
"There's a mixed emotion to that," John said. "One, you kind of share in their success, but then when you see them struggle, whether it's through performance or injury, it kind of rips your heart out, because you always want better for your kid. You know that those are growing experiences."
Shane Farrell was taken in the 46th round by the Blue Jays in 2011 -- the team John was managing at the time. But his playing career is over because of some health complications.
"He had the [thoracic] outlet syndrome and had the rib removed, and [he] tried to come back from that and just never was able to, physically," said John.
But Shane was determined to stay in baseball, and he is an amateur scouting assistant for the Cubs.
"Fortunately, through his desire to stay in the game and pursue something, he went up to the Cape [Cod League] on his own after his playing career was over, and did an internship with Peter Gammons, which was basically scouting the league," said John. "He started to write reports and sent them out to teams, and a few teams took some notice. He landed some interviews and wound up with a job with the Cubs."
John beams with pride about his son's non-uniformed job the same way he does about his other kids who are still in uniform.
"He's got a very good mind and memory," John said. "I don't know if it's photographic. But he's got tremendous recall with certain things, and players is one of them. He's got a knack for understanding what talent looks like, and hopefully that serves him well going forward."
On Sunday, John will be managing the Red Sox in Baltimore. His sons will be trying to advance in their own careers.
Inevitably, each son will probably touch base with their father at some point in the day. Perhaps baseball will come up.
"I haven't seen many of their games in the last eight years," John said. "I'm lucky if I get to see them once a year during the time that they were playing. But I think so many conversations and experiences were shared leading up to that point, before they got into the last couple of years of high school, and certainly into college.
"Our conversations about baseball just always seemed to kind of pick up where it left off, and not only were they playing it themselves, but they're fans of it and they pay attention to the happenings around the game. While I might not have been there with in-person support, at least there's the ability to follow them on the Internet or have many conversations over the phone with them.
"I guess the one thing that is common with all three of them is they've always wanted to get out on their own. I respect them for that. I respect them for their independence. The fact that they're willing to do just that, it makes you proud that they're willing to take on the challenges that exist, probably like any other kid that gets drafted. It's pretty neat to have three of them experience Draft day."