Like a lot of dads, Tim Fletcher looked forward to spending last Monday evening watching a baseball game. Just like a lot of dads, he would be at home, watching on TV, enjoying a snack. And that’s about where the comparisons to Tim Fletcher’s week and the rest of the dads stop.
Tim Fletcher has two sons, David and Dominic, who are both exceptional baseball players. Each had one of the biggest moments of their young lives this week, leaving Tim both excited and in need of several plane tickets.
The first weekend of June, Tim was in Fayetteville, Arkansas watching his youngest son, Dominic, play center field for the Arkansas Razorbacks and win their Regional, the opening round of the NCAA baseball tournament.
“I was home for the Super Regionals, though. His mom [Fernanda] was out there. We kind of switch up,” Tim explained. “So I watched the Supers at home on TV.”
Although the Razorbacks were favored to win the best 2 out of 3 match up against South Carolina, Tim had yet to purchase tickets to Omaha or make any hotel reservations.
“You don’t want to do that,” he said. “I don’t want to say the baseball gods, but bad things happen when you buy a ticket before its all said and done.”
A practical superstition makes perfect sense for Tim, a very practical man. The Orange native spent five years serving our country as a member of the Army, then moved on to work in construction for the last 30. His work ethic, down to earth demeanor, and drive to succeed has been passed down to his sons partially through nature, but largely due to example.
“David’s a grinder, just like Dominic. And they get that from their dad,” explained David’s agent Steve Rath, who has known the family since David was a freshman at Loyola Marymount. “He’s just instilled this work ethic into these two and its the same as him. He’s a grinder, he’s a blue collar guy, he works his butt off and you can see that in David and Dominic.”
Rath describes Tim as a very supportive father, but not over bearing. While at the Fletcher house for a barbecue several years ago, Rath saw a pile of wood in the backyard. Tim was building a gym for his sons to use.
“They used that all through school, David would use it when he was home,” recalled Tim. “I had a custom net hung, they had weights, a squat rack, dumbbells rack up to 100 pounds, that was about it.”
But Tim’s support of his sons started well before that gym. The 55 year old played football in high school and junior college then did some power lifting while in the Army. He wasn’t a baseball guy, until his sons were.
“David, before he could even walk, always wanted to play with a ball. He’d have some toys out there and he’d always grab the ball,” he says. “Then, both of them, as soon as I’d come home from work would want to play ball. All the time.”
David remembers those days fondly. “When me and my brother were younger we were always out at the field playing ball with my dad, throwing the ball around and fielding and hitting”
“I think that’s a big part of both of our success.”
Tim coached the boys until they were about 11 or 12. “I was never the head coach,” he explains. “I only got into coaching because I was approached by a Little League coach.”
“I didn’t know how far it would take them, but I wanted them to learn the things that sports teach you, the things that they taught me.”
As the boys got older and their skills became apparent, Tim stepped aside from coaching and moved into more of a supporting role. He built the gym. And he drove to a ton of tournaments.
“Oh yeah, for sure. Definitely a lot of weekends he spent driving us to tournaments,” says David.
So, in a way, watching Dominic in the NCAA tournament last weekend was an extension of what Tim has spent the last 15 years doing. Only this time the stakes were a lot higher and his son was playing in front of a national audience on ESPN2.
The Razorbacks won that game 14-4 and punched their ticket to the College World Series which is held each year in Omaha, Nebraska. Moments afterward, Tim and Fernanda starting planning their trip to Omaha as well. They arranged to fly out for the opening Saturday, not taking an extended run for granted.
“With Omaha you never know if you’re going to be there two days or two weeks,” he explained. “We can’t be out there two weeks but I got it set up to go Saturday to Saturday.”
Meanwhile, his older son David was having a stellar year for the Angels AAA affiliate in Salt Lake City, his call to the big leagues a question of “when” not “if.” For his part, David kept his head down and went to work, just like he’d seen Tim do year after year.
“David is the one guy I worked with who never tried to play GM,” says Rath. “He never complained, he never looked ahead, he just goes out there and goes to work, whatever level he’s at.”
And fewer than 24 hours after Dominic punched his ticket to the College World Series, David was told he was moving up a level, to the big leagues. The first order of business was to call home.
“I was in a building here in Irvine, and it gets pretty loud in here,” Tim explains. “So I step outside and see I had bout 9 or 10 missed calls and a bunch of texts. David called a couple times, his agent. I was like ‘what is going on?’
“So I called David back and that’s when he told me. Now I’m down in Irvine, its about 1 or 2 in the afternoon and I start looking on my phone trying to find a way to Seattle.”
When asked about talking to his dad and sharing that news, the normally stoic David’s voice changes; the emotion and excitement evident.
“That was pretty cool. Just the excitement, I could tell how excited he was. And I was excited,” David said, noting that it will be something he’ll always remember.
So now the dad enjoying a baseball game on a Monday night after work, who spent Monday night and Tuesday morning planning a trip to watch one son in the College World Series, needed to book an impromptu trip to Seattle to watch his other son make his big league debut.
“I was looking on my phone and there was no way to get back home then get to the airport and get to Seattle in time for the game. I didn’t know if David was playing or not, but I was trying to find a way,” Tim recalls.
“I was looking at LAX but the first flight I could [realistically] make left about 8 and the game started at 7. I knew they had a day game Wednesday so I told him I’d take a flight first thing in the morning Wednesday.”
David arrived in Seattle at roughly 6 PM Tuesday night, made it to Safeco Field in time for the game but did not play. However, when the lineups for Wednesday were announced, David was starting at third base and hitting ninth in the order.
With Tim in the stands, David got his Major League career started with a 2 RBI triple. On the day he went 3 for 4 and made a run saving defensive play at home plate.
“It still feels kind of crazy but it was definitely a good feeling to get out there,” David said that evening.
And that triple? “That was definitely a cool moment, getting my first hit. And it being a triple that drove in a couple runs was really cool.”
One memory of a lifetime down and another on the horizon, Tim flew back to Orange County after Wednesday’s game. In true grinder fashion, he went to work on Thursday.
As expected, the pride Tim feels in his sons is evident in his voice. There’s a little change whenever the conversation veers from questions about himself to ones about his sons.
And, while Dominic is expected to be a fairly high draft pick and David has the makings of a solid MLB player, it is life away from baseball the father says he enjoys most now.
“We hardly ever talk about baseball any more. Everyone else, talks about baseball with them all the time. So we hardly talk baseball.”
Overall, Tim is happy with where baseball has taken David and Dominic. “I always told them if you can do what you’re passionate about, whatever your passion is, and make a living doing it, you’ll never really work. It won’t feel like work. If you’d do it for free, and they’re paying you to do it, you’re not working.”
As far as David and Dominic’s success in baseball:
“Its not waking up at 4 every morning and going out there day after day to make a living. I just wanted to take them as far as I could and give them the opportunity to go from there.”
Job well done, Tim.
On behalf of the staff here at Halos Heaven, we’d like to wish a Happy Father’s Day to Tim Fletcher and all of the dads out there. Links to this article will be sent to the Fletcher family, so please leave comments and questions below.
On a personal note, I’d like to thank the Fletcher family for their time during such an exciting time for the family. I greatly appreciate it and wish you all the best.