Interview by Tonya Kerr | Photo Credit: Astros Media Relations
Baseball is a family game, so with Father’s Day around the corner, we decided to ask World Series Champion Houston Astros Manager A.J. Hinch to give of his take on what fatherhood means to him.
World Series Champs and you’re into your fourth season with the Astros. You’re also approaching a 20-year wedding anniversary with your wife Erin, and together, you’re raising teenage daughters Hailey (15) and Kaitlin (13). How do you balance work and family?
I’m inclusive as much as I can with my girls, because I want them to see me be passionate about something. See me care about something so much and see all the time and energy and commitment that I put into what I love and what I do. Also, we’re gone so much that if you don’t include them, you’ll find yourself growing apart from that everyday life. I’ve got two teenage daughters that I want to be a part of their lives and I want them to be a part of my life. And my wife and I have committed to making them part of the fabric of everything I do with sports.
Whether that’s the World Series last year…. You know, we took them out of school for almost a month. Which growing up in education, that was really a moral dilemma for me. Because I didn’t want them to miss any school, but the life experience and them being part of the fabric of what I’m doing – that outweighed it.
Hailey and Kaitlin did everything from trick-or-treating in a hotel to drying out after Yankees fans doused them with beer at a game. What do you hope they’ll remember about that once-in-a-lifetime experience?
I just want them to appreciate how special it was and how unique it was to be a part of anything of that magnitude. It’s not the success or the money or the fame…or the extra-curricular things that come with it. It’s the experience and the joy they found. The smiles they saw on my face. The satisfaction of putting your efforts into something you’re doing and have it rewarded with those feelings. I want my kids to keep it all in perspective.
Your sister often tells the story of your dad coaching a youth baseball team only after you were turned down by the team you wanted to join. What would have happened if you hadn’t been so tenacious at age 9? And how do you instill those values into your own kids?
I think it would have changed everything. Because that’s all I ever wanted growing up was to be involved in sports. To be a major league player… I never thought I would be a major league coach or manager… it’s sort of that drive I felt like I was born with. I felt like my parents put me in a position to get the most out of that and then ultimately you get tested.
I really believe in letting people be themselves. You know…I don’t want them to walk in my shoes. I don’t want to live their life for them. I don’t want to tell them what to be excited about or interested in. I want them to be their best self. And that to me is to bring out the passion in whatever that is. Maybe its photography for my oldest. Maybe its soccer and friends for my youngest. I want them to have that much passion in their interests as I do in mine. And in order to do that, you’ve got to let them be.
Father’s Day puts you and the Astro’s on Royals turf in Kansas City. Will the girls and Erin be there with you?
They will be home. I’m sure we will Facetime. I’m sure they will find a way to make that trip special because of how special that day is. You know, I’m so proud to be their father and to have a day where they want to make it special for me means a lot to me. Another thing I’ve learned about teenage daughters is that they have their own lives and they have their own weekend plans- and Father’s Day when I’m on the road will not stop them.