EVERETT — Friday night, Gene Watson was in Charleston, South Carolina, as part of his job as the director of pro scouting for the Kansas City Royals.
By Saturday afternoon he was in Everett to surprise his son, AquaSox left-hander Tyler Watson, with wife Melanie and Tyler’s girlfriend, Kaitlyn Bates, in tow.
“It’s been a lot of fun following him professionally,” said Gene, who has been with the Royals for 11 seasons and has held his current position since 2012.
“Kind of one of the advantages he’s had as a player where he may be short in some areas on ability, he’s grown up around the game, he understands the business side. He understands the rules of the game and how difficult it is to progress in this game. The thing we always told him is there is only one promotion that matters and that’s to the major leagues. Everything else is just baseball, whether you’re in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Everett, Washington, or Burlington, Iowa. You’re playing baseball, so enjoy it and be a great teammate as long as you can put that uniform on and enjoy doing it.”
Gene has been in professional baseball for more than 20 years, so it wasn’t always easy for him to follow Tyler’s career. That has changed since Tyler entered the professional ranks in 2014 with the Los Angeles Angels organization.
“He’s gone 250 days a year (but) it was cool to get to travel around with him a lot,” Tyler said. “It’s a little easier now that I’m in pro ball so he gets to see me pitch a little bit more.”
Millions of fathers and sons bond through baseball. Not nearly as many have a dad for whom baseball is a profession.
“He grew up in the Florida State League and the Texas League, and I would always put him down the line, right where the edge of the net is up high and he’d get 65 foul balls in a week,” Gene said. “As he got older I’d look down and he’d be the bat boy. He knew the players and managers better than I did at most of the visiting ballparks. It’s in his fiber, it’s part of who he is. For us as a family to see him get to wear a professional uniform and be a part of everything he grew up with is special for us.”
Tyler was released by the Angels in spring training and, after a stint in independent ball, was picked up by the Mariners and sent to extended spring training. He announced his presence to the Everett faithful with a dominating relief performance in Everett’s season-opener on Thursday when he struck out seven in 2 2/3 innings while allowing one hit.
“Really everything (was working),” Tyler said. “Just mixing my pitches and mixing location. Just trying to keep the hitters off-balance.”
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