By Jennifer Van Tuyl
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
When one thinks back to the summer days growing up and playing baseball, some might think of a setting similar to that from the movie The Sandlot. The field may be a little worn down, but all of your friends were there having a good time. This may be true for many, but can you imagine instead of playing in the beast’s backyard you are hanging out at Wrigley Field? Your friends are not Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez or Scotty Smalls, but rather Jim Thome and Sammy Sosa.
Freshmen Cameron Seitzer and Garrett Buechele are both sons of former major league baseball players, and were able to spend time with their dads in the big leagues.
Cameron is the son of Kevin Seitzer, who played 12 seasons in the MLB as a third baseman for the Kansas City Royals, Milwaukee Brewers, Toronto Blue Jays, Oakland Athletics and Cleveland Indians. Seitzer was a two-time all-star in 1987 and 1995, and played in the World Series with the Cleveland Indians in 1997.
Although Cameron was too young to remember a lot from his father’s playing days, he vividly remembers his favorite players and place to go after the games.
“After the game I went down to the clubhouse all the time and that was probably my favorite part,” Cameron said. “I remember Jim Thome who was one of my all-time favorite guys, and Omar Vizquel, Manny Ramirez and Matt Williams.”
Although surrounded by many greats, Cameron has always looked up to his dad for advice.
“He is always there for me even when he is not at my games,” Cameron said. “After every game I give him a call and tell him how I did. He knows my swing so I just go to him to ask him what I am doing wrong. I tell him how I’m feeling and he knows exactly what to tell me.”
Garrett’s father, Steve Buechele, played 11 seasons in the MLB at third base for the Texas Rangers, Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs. Buechele was named the Tom Grieve Minor League Player of the Year in 1985, and during the 1991 season with the Rangers he committed just three errors for an MLB record fielding percentage (.991).
Garrett said having his dad in the big leagues was one of the coolest things you could ever imagine. Not only could he say his dad played professional baseball, he would wander around Wrigley Field whenever he wanted. And like Seitzer, he enjoyed hanging out with the team in the clubhouse.
“I loved being around all the guys,” Garrett said. “My boy was Sammy Sosa. We used to hang out all the time. He was a young guy and just really always happy, nothing every bugged him.
“Just all the guys in the locker room were really cool and they used to mess with me and stuff. It was always a good time.”
Both Sooners said the best pieces of advice their dads have ever given them were not about how they hit at the plate or fielded the ball.
“Go have fun,” Cameron said. “He told me not to live by one play all the time because college baseball is a lot of pressure. Just relax and go have fun.”
“Never get down on yourself and just trust yourself,” Garrett said about the best piece of advice he received from his father. “Go out there and give it all you got.”
The advice has definitely paid off as Seitzer and Buechele are having noteworthy seasons thus far, playing major roles in OU’s success. While Seitzer is hitting over .300 mainly as a designated hitter and spot starter at first base, Buechele is the team’s leader in batting average with a .379 clip, a mark that also ranks near the tops of the Big 12.
Both were able to learn the game from watching the greats of professional baseball and have grown as players themselves by watching the examples set by their fathers. And like any rising baseball star, both student-athletes hope to one day follow in their footsteps.