Baseball, Family, And Perseverance: A Conversation With Anthony Rizzo

(Getty/Christian Petersen, Getty/Icon Sportswire, BODYARMOR)

World Series. Game 7. Bottom of the 9th. Bases loaded. Lots of kids have fantasized about such a scenario.

Now let’s make some tweaks… It’s still Game 7 of the World Series. But it’s not bottom of the 9th; it’s top of the 10th. You just came off an All Star season in which you were awarded the Gold Glove AND Silver Slugger. On top of all that, your team hasn’t won the World Series in 108 years and your entire city is watching. Oh, and you’re only 27 years old. Imagine that pressure. How would you perform? That was Anthony Rizzo in 2016.

How does Anthony deal with big game pressure? I caught up with the Chicago Cubs first baseman to chat baseball, overcoming adversity, and important father figures in his life.

The love of the game

Whether you’re an athlete or not, baseball’s influence on American culture is undeniable. It means something to all of us. If we close our eyes and think baseball, most of us can imagine the sound of a ball cracking off a wooden bat, or the smell of beer and peanuts.

Before Anthony Rizzo was a professional baseball player, he was a fan. “Going to ballgames and watching the parades coming to town and rooting for your team, or heckling Chipper Jones… It’s fun. Win or lose. You know, I can’t ever tell you what team won or lost when I went to a game; I just know I enjoyed going.”

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Living legend!

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A family commitment

Sports have an incredible ability to bond families together, and Anthony’s parents have supported him since the beginning.

“My parents both love it. They love being able to watch me play and they’re happy for me, whether I get four hits or don’t get any hits. They’re just happy to see their son out there.”

Any sports parent knows, raising a young athlete takes sacrifice. “It’s a huge commitment and, you know, I was lucky enough that my parents provided me that and were able to take me to the tournaments. They were able to take me to showcases and dish out the money that they didn’t necessarily have…”

Overcoming adversity

8 years before the 2016 World Series, at age 19, Rizzo was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. At the same time, his grandma was battling breast cancer. Rizzo underwent 6 months of chemotherapy and beat it. Just 3 years later, on June 9, 2011, Rizzo hit a triple in his debut Major League Baseball game, helping the Padres to victory.

Just over a month later, Rizzo was sent back to the minors. Like always, Rizzo persevered.  “At the moment, when I was getting sent down, I never really doubted myself. I knew I could play. But also, in the moment, you gotta keep perspective in life. When you’re beating yourself up over a baseball game, you tell yourself, Listen, you’re beating yourself up over a baseball game. You know? I’m playing a sport for a living. We’re all very lucky to be doing what we’re doing and I will never take that for granted.” He established the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation, a non-profit organization devoted to assisting families dealing with pediatric cancer. He was later traded to the Cubs, where he’s played ever since.

“When I was a kid I told my teachers I wanted to be a professional baseball player. I would yell at my dad because he would tell me I could be good enough to play and I would say, ‘No, Dad, every parent tells their kid that. Don’t tell me that.’ But that sort of thing stays with you—when your dad believes in you. And that confidence in your abilities is what gets you through the tough times.”

Peak energy

Last year, Anthony played in 157 games with 572 at bats. That’s a lot. How does he stay energized and in peak shape? “I listen to music pregame. I just make sure I’m hydrated, make sure I get a good meal in and just make sure I’m loose and have a good time. That’s what life’s all about, you know?”

To stay hydrated, Anthony drinks BODYARMOR (a premium sports drink with natural flavors and sweeteners, no colors from artificial sources, and made with coconut water) as part of his daily routine. “I drink it religiously. It has no artificial flavors or sweeteners.  There’s a bunch of vitamins. It’s low sodium. It’s high in potassium. I’m very conscious of what I put in my body, especially when I’m playing, and I do drink it during the game and it just keeps me at a peak level of energy throughout the entire game, which is not easy to do.”

I can relate, I just got winded taking out the trash.

(BODYARMOR)

World Series, Game 7, extra innings…

So in Anthony Rizzo’s moment, with the Series on the line in Game 7 in 2016, what happened? Instead of facing the hot hitter, Cleveland pitcher Bryan Shaw intentionally walked Rizzo. His teammate Miguel Montero drove him in for the Cubs’ last run in an 8-7 victory, Chicago’s first World Series win since 1908. With a supportive family behind him and the drive to never let anything stop him, Rizzo was able to live every kid’s baseball dream.

Rizzo became a partner and investor in BODYARMOR, a premium sports drink made with potassium-packed electrolytes, coconut water, and natural sweeteners and flavors, several years ago when he discovered it during spring training. Rizzo joined a team of other superstar athletes who also partnered with BODYARMOR, including Mike Trout, James Harden, Andrew Luck, and Dustin Johnson. To learn more about BODYARMOR Sports Drink, visit www.drinkbodyarmor.com.

This post was sponsored by:
BODYARMOR

Back To School Photo Fails

(Facebook.com/DaveHannem)

Parents love to capture the moment on the first day back to school, but sometimes that moment isn’t what we envisioned. Check out these hilarious back to school photo fails from The Dad community.

(Instagram.com/cheeksmagee)
(Facebook.com/KellySmith)
(Instagram.com/abbyjmccoy)
(Instagram.com/instagramycohen)
(Facebook.com/DaveHannem)
(Instagram.com/JoyScribner)
(Instagram.com/bullitt.with.a.name)
(Facebook.com/KristenMadral)
(Instagram.com/heatherdtomlinson)

Dad Grades – Hal from Malcolm in the Middle

(Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox)

Years before his dark turn as meth kingpin Heisenberg, Bryan Cranston starred as Hal on the criminally under-appreciated sitcom, Malcolm in the Middle. While his sadistically overbearing wife, Lois, was perpetually at wits end with their four mischievous sons, the much more care-free Hal happily took the passenger seat in their parenting roles.

DAD STRENGTHS

(Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox)

Hal is a loving husband and father. He shows Lois affection through raw animalistic passion and utter dependence. He even admits to it, once telling Lois that he and their boys are not smart enough to function without her, and in return can only offer his total obedience.

He takes a much calmer, more sympathetic approach to parenting than Lois. She has a short fuse, at the end of which is a barrel of dynamite eager to ground someone for the rest of their life. Hal, conversely, seizes any opportunity to bond with his boys by having a sit-down and doling out fatherly words of wisdom.

(Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox)

He’s far more lenient, but will raise his voice and put his foot down when necessary. He’s often creative in his punishments. For example, when Malcolm told him “[bleep] you,” Hal sat him down in the backyard and forced him to look him in the eyes and read aloud a comprehensive list of every vile swear words, teaching him their power.

His biggest strength, however, is his laid-back, often immature attitude. It serves as a refreshing palate cleanser for Lois’ incessant shouting. He is truly the yin to her yang.

DAD WEAKNESSES

He’s more permissive than his wife. In one episode, Hal surprises the boys by letting them skip school to accompany him at some stock car races.

Hal’s lax approach to parenting is, regrettably, his biggest weakness. His spontaneity and often childish behavior sets a bad example for his sons. Case in point: the steamroller. After winning some money on a scratch-off, Hal secretly rents a steamroller.

(Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox)

When Dewey catches him, Hal agrees to let him steamroll over Reese’s bike. Ultimately, Hal goes mad with power and Dewey must talk him down from steamrolling a row of cars. Surely this gave Dewey license to misbehave in the future. His impulsive nature is typically harmless, but still sets precedent for the delinquency of his kids.

VERDICT

Despite shortcomings at the cost of his need to be the parent his sons actually like, Hal is a great father. Sure, all four of his sons are rambunctious hellions, disobedient and destructive at every turn, but that’s predominantly the result of their stubborn, temperamental mother. He’s a big-hearted working stiff, determined to provide for his family however dysfunctional they may be.

FINAL DAD GRADE: A-

Dancing Dad Embarrasses Daughter at Baseball Game [VIDEO]

Being a dad involves a lot of anxiety, drudgery, and stress. Sometimes you get to enjoy the perks of parenting, like embarrassing your children on television. Or in the stands at a Cubs game.

Or both!

This dad knows what’s up. He ignores his daughter’s attempts to get him to stop dancing and then doubles down on the silly moves.

Father Figures: Be Positive

“My twin girls (Faye and Felicia) are both autistic.

Felicia was diagnosed before she was three; she’s non verbal and loves life in her own wee bubble. Once she lets you in, it’s amazing. That’s her circle of trust.

Faye is her total opposite, always singing and chatting up a storm. Once they started preschool, we found out that Faye was showing signs of autism that we perhaps overlooked because she was so advanced.

My wife and I, with the assistance of Faye’s teachers, pushed hard to get her assessed, reassessed and diagnosed. Faye is very smart and fooled the specialist in the first assessment regarding extra help in school. We were very lucky when she was diagnosed, because the specialist ASD doctors could still recognize her traits.

It’s been a long journey and no two days are alike. Through it all we’ve learned that Faye is just a younger, female version of her older brother. From her diagnosis, we were able to recognize the ASD traits in Jordan. He is now beginning the diagnostic process.

But long story short, both our girls now attend an autism unit in a special school. It’s a God send and they are both doing great! They turned 6 in August and Jordan will be 11 this December.

Be positive and always make sure your child gets all they need. Raising a child with special needs definitely puts into perspective what’s important in life!

Everything for the kids!”

– Nic Young

Want to share a story about fatherhood? Email fatherfigures@thedad.com

8-Year-Old Girl Stuns Crowd at Harlem Globetrotters Game [VIDEO]

(YouTube/Harlem Globetrotters)

When the Harlem Globetrotters called Samaya Clark-Gabriel onto the court at halftime of their game, the crowd at Madison Square Garden wasn’t sure what to expect. But at this stage in a Globetrotters game it would certainly take a lot to impress them.

First she just started dribbling.

But then she started dribbling two basketballs at once. And then she started dribbling two basketballs at once while wearing a blindfold. And then she started dribbling two basketballs at once while wearing a blindfold and DOING A SPLIT.

Wow. Did they sign her yet?

Big Dad Rides Small Bike as a Tribute to Late Daughter

(JustGiving/Peter Williams)

Peter Williams of Penzance, England is showing incredible strength after the loss of his daughter. On Friday at 10am, he began a 211-mile ride to raise money for The Brain Tumour Charity.

In 2015, Peter lost his 7-year-old daughter, Ellie, to a rare form of brain cancer, only six months after she was diagnosed.

To honor his daughter he decided to begin his ride at Bristol Children’s Hospital where Ellie was treated. He’s also making the entire trip on her little pink bike, which is only 20″ high. Given Peter is 6 feet tall, that’s going to make for an additional challenge, but he’s up for it.

Aside from a small modification to the bike’s seat, he’ll be riding the bike as-is. “My knees clear the handlebars by about half an inch so it’s going to be really tight, but it’s a great bike,” he told the BBC. When he factors in his unique mode of transportation Peter estimates the ride from Bristol to Land’s End will take him a week to complete.

Ellie loved cycling and impressed her dad at age three, when she was able to ride without training wheels.

(JustGiving/Peter Williams)

The bike he’ll be riding was her pride and joy – a present she received for her last Christmas.

So far Peter has raised £23,349 (roughly $30K US) through his JustGiving campaign, already doubling his £10,000 target.

What a guy! What a dad! Go, Peter, go!

If you’d like donate to Peter’s campaign, visit his JustGiving page.

If you want to learn more about where the money is going, check out The Brain Tumour Charity.

Father and Son Escape Burning Truck in the Nick of Time

(News Channel Nebraska)

When 19-year old Minnesota man Kobe Sammons drove 500 miles to visit his family in Nebraska he thought he was leaving the heat from his welding job behind. When he arrived he told to his father, Jeremy, that his ride just wasn’t running right. So his dad hopped in the truck and the two went for a drive in hopes of discovering what the problem was.

A short while later they pulled over when Jeremy noticed smoke had entered the cabin of the truck. The smoke quickly turned to heat and it became apparent the engine compartment was on fire.

That’s when both men attempted to open their doors but they would not unlock.

The father wondered if this would be their final moments together.

“I told him he would have to break the glass or kick the door open. I couldn’t help him.” the elder Sammons told News Channel Nebraska.

But eventually Kobe was able to kick the door open.

“It was in those moments. Just when it had to open, the door opened.” Kobe’s dad said.

By the time firefighters arrived the truck was completely engulfed in flames. Authorities on the scene considered that the fire may have caused the doors’ unlocking mechanism to malfunction.

The truck can easily be replaced, the important thing is that this father and son duo escaped unharmed.