By Emily Franzenburg
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Although “All in the Family” was cancelled long before Kansas junior Robby Price was born, there is no other phrase that better describes his experience when it comes to the game of baseball.
The starting second baseman is actually the fourth member of the Price clan to be involved with the KU baseball program in the last seven years.
“I’ve always wanted to play college baseball, but I didn’t know where or at what level,” said Price, who touts a .230 batting average and 11 RBI this season. “After my two brothers came here to play for KU, I pretty much knew that’s where I would play as well. No one really recruited me because they just assumed I would go here too.”
Ritch Price, Robby’s father, is the head coach of the Jayhawks and his two older brothers played for KU before being drafted by professional baseball franchises. Ritchie, the oldest Price, played from 2003-06 and is now the head baseball coach at South Dakota State. Meanwhile, Ryne (2005-08) is currently an outfielder in the minor leagues for the San Francisco Giants.
During their time at KU, both elder Price brothers set some high standards for their little brother to follow. Ritchie set 24 career, single-season and class records, while Ryne holds the record for career home runs (35) and is on the short list for several other top marks. Robby is up to the challenge, though.
“I didn’t really feel any pressure having to follow Ritchie and Ryne,” said Price, who already holds the Kansas record for sacrifice hits as a junior. “I think it was good that they both played here ahead of me, because they both helped me out with letting me know what to expect.”
Much of Price’s confidence and talent comes from the influence of his family. Price said his father has always been there to support him, as a dad, and as a coach.
“I worked out with him here and there when I was growing up, but he was mostly just a normal father who would come out to watch me play and support me,” said Price, who has started all but two of the Jayhawks’ games in 2009. “So the first couple of years (at KU) it was different; adjusting to (him as) ‘Coach.’ But off the field, he was still my father.
“That was a little tough, but I got used to it. He’s a real players coach - he’s demanding, but he isn’t really going to get on you too bad. He’ll let you play, and I really like that style.”
Price, who was in high school when the family moved to Lawrence from California, named his brother, Ryne, as another major influence. He said the transition could have been much more difficult without his big brother by his side.
“It was kind of a culture shock at first,” said Price. “Leaving my friends and the connections I’d made back there where I’d grown up my whole life was pretty difficult. Having my brother in high school with me helped a lot. Ryne and I became pretty close; we had a good bond. That definitely helped during that time of transition.”
After playing with Ryne for several years during his younger days and in high school, Robby finally got the chance to take the field with his brother at the college level. The two even shared living space right up until Ryne left for spring training a few weeks ago.
“I’ve always loved playing with him (Ryne),” said Price. “He’s one of my best friends. It’s interesting because every year I’ve played with him it’s been a really fun year. I just always have a good time with him, and I still talk with him about every day or every other day. I think he and Ritchie both like to check up on me a little bit.”
Now that both of his brothers have moved on, Price is prepared to fill the big shoes left by his borthers. His role on the team has changed from backup to starting infielder, and Price relishes the opportunity to shine on his own.
“It’s different not seeing Ryne or Ritchie around,” said Price. “On top of that, I always felt like I had a couple other brothers on the team, but they’re all gone now too. Being the older guy now, it’s a completely different experience. Now I’m in a leadership role on and off the field, trying to develop the younger kids. It’s different, but I’m enjoying it.”