Jordy Mercer grew up in Oklahoma with the dream of being a big league baseball player. From his time playing little league in Taloga, Oklahoma, to playing at Oklahoma State University, Mercer held on tight to his dream of making the show. Being a third round pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2008 draft was the start of his journey, but he was still a long way off from showing up in Pittsburgh.
While playing in the Pirates system, Mercer got married and while making the big leagues was still a primary goal, I guess you can say it was 1-A with having a baby with his wife as 1-B.
As the team broke for spring training, Mercer found out his wife was pregnant and that he would be a father this year. And on May 29, Mercer got the news that he would be making the trip to Pittsburgh for the first time as a member of the Pirates.
“It’s a dream come true,” Mercer said. ”Words can’t describe it. It’s something you dream of when you’re a little kid. It’s something special.”
To make the dream complete, despite being in St. Louis and playing 19 innings on August 18, Mercer had a flight booked back to Oklahoma to be with his wife as they delivered his baby boy, Maverick.
“I knew I was catching a plane in St. Louis on Sunday and it was an 8:30 flight,” Mercer said. “We went 19 innings which was incredible to be a part of, but I barely made my flight. The next morning, I went to the hospital at 5:00 a.m. and she had it at 1:10 so it was pretty cool.”
While the Mercer’s were wanting both of these things to happen, for them to happen in the same year is like a fairy tail for the couple.
“This year’s been incredible. It’s something that you dream about – both things – once in a lifetime and both happening in the same year is just incredible,” Mercer said. “My wife and I were talking about it before the season started. We knew that she was pregnant and that we were going to have a baby this year. We both dreamed that I would make it to the big leagues and that we would have a kid in the same year and it happened. It’s a dream come true.”
At the ripe age of only 26, Mercer turned to a couple veterans dads on the team for some fatherly advice.
“Rod (Barajas) gave me a few words of advice since he has seven kids and Barmy (Clint Barmes) has also,” Mercer said. “Just be there when you can in the offseason. It’s hard during the season because you’re not around a lot of the times. But they said just in the offseason, be there as much as you can for them and that’s all you can ask for.”
For Barmes, who has has a five-year-old son named Wyatt, he was more than happy to offer advice to Mercer.
“We’ve been talking about it for awhile. When he was a month away, just the excitement and preparing for somewhat what he has to expect a little bit,” Barmes said. “It’s just all the little things about being a dad; from the good, the bad and ugly – all around. Obviously he’s very excited and it was all good. It’s fun for me because my kids are still young. I have some experience that way.”
Barajas and his wife Stacie have seven kids and as Mercer and Barmes joked around, he has plenty of experience.
“We talked about it a couple times. I just told him to enjoy the moment. Everything is going to come fast and seem overwhelming, but once that time comes, his fatherly instincts are going to kick in and he will know what to do,” Barajas said. “He’s going to enjoy the moment and it’ll be something he will never forget.”
“It’s an unbelievable experience to become a dad. That was the serious talk about it. I also gave him the horror stories and tried to scare him with that kind of stuff to joke around. He’s a great kid and I’m very happy and excited for him. I love seeing guys start a family. Just talking to them and seeing their eyes light up when talking about their son or their daughter.”
But if you ask any athlete, especially baseball players, there is a difference between being a dad and a baseball dad. The season is 162 games long with constant travel and long hours being put in. Barmes said an old friend Matt Holliday helped him with the adjustment and he passed his wisdom onto Mercer.
“I’ve been around Matt Holliday. He’s the one that comes to mind the most. He had his son Jackson coming into the Colorado clubhouse from the age of two,” Barmes said. “Being a baseball dad is definitely not an easy job. You’re not at home as much as people think. Trying to find quality time to spend with your kids can be tough.”
“You’re waking up earlier than you normally would, especially at home. You go on the road and families can’t travel all the time so you’re taking weeks off at a time. You look at the military where they are gone for years without seeing their kids. I can’t imagine that. Being gone for a week and coming home, from a newborn to where my kids are at right now, there’s so much that changes during that time.”
Barmes said he wouldn’t trade the experience for the world and it allows him to put things into perspective.
“There are a lot of things that you have to own up to and find out how selfish you really are. Playing this game and coming out to put the work in before, with working out, batting practice and then the game, it takes a lot of energy,” Barmes said. “Having kids, young kids, it takes a lot of energy for that as well. You can ask my wife those questions. I don’t know how she does it.”
For now, the young Maverick is with his mom in Oklahoma. If the Mercer’s ever get stuck without a babysitter, would they actually consider asking one of Jordy’s teammates?
“(Laughs) Oh I don’t know. Ok, I guess since Rod surely by now has to know what’s going on right with seven? So yeah, I guess I would let him,” Mercer said.
Barajas said he would welcome the young Mercer, but can’t promise he will return him the same way he got him.
“Absolutely. He can send him over whenever he wants. I’m not going to guarantee when he gets him back that he’s not going to be saying bad words or in the kitchen eating whatever he wants to eat like candy,” Barajas said laughing. “If I babysit, it’s almost like grandpa babysitting. I’m going to give him whatever he wants. I love kids. We’re a family in here and anyone who wants to bring one of their kids, my wife and I will happily take them.”
Mercer can’t wait to get home for good with his wife and his son in the offseason. For now however, there is one goal that he has in mind that could be the cherry on top of the best year of his life.
“To make the playoffs, that’d be amazing to be a part of something special that we have going on in Pittsburgh,” Mercer said. “Just being a part of these guys that have been so helpful with everything I’ve been through here and all that we’ve done is just an incredible feeling. Making the playoffs would definitely be the icing on the cake.”
As Jordy and his wife know, it’s one step at a time. But as this year has proved, anything is possible.
Photo Credits: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE – Presswire