Outfielder tries to pass down to his own son what his father taught him
By Shane Jackson
MINNEAPOLIS -- Despite going on countless trips across the country with his dad growing up, Twins outfielder Byron Buxton's most memorable drive came when he was barely awake.
Buxton, then 7 years old, pleaded with his mother to let him join Felton Buxton one Sunday evening for one of his many trips as a truck driver. The three of them then loaded up the truck and set off for Tennessee from Baxley, Ga., at 8 p.m.
The family returned the following morning after a 12-hour roundabout trip, with his dad driving the whole way and not sleeping for a second. Meanwhile, Buxton slept for approximately eight of those 12 hours.
For Buxton, it exemplified the hard work and determination that is necessary. Especially in a sport like baseball. His dad also taught him to never get too high or low, another key piece of advice in such a fluid game.
"The biggest thing he taught me is staying humble," Buxton said. "I think that allows me to come in here every day, if I had a bad game that allows me to put it behind me and focus on what I have to do to get better that day."
Buxton's father has been a big influence on his baseball career, but Buxton says it's the parenting skills he learned that have had an even bigger impact.
Buxton's son Brixton, who is now 3 years old, was born about 18 months after Buxton was selected by the Twins with the No. 2 pick in the 2012 MLB Draft. It practically forced the then-young talented prospect to grow up in a hurry.
"It's overwhelming at first," Buxton admitted. "But once you slow down and relax, you realize that you have somebody to take care of. That puts it into perspective, to take things a little more seriously."
The stretches and early work in the batting cages that once seemed monotonous suddenly took precedence. It allowed him to propel through the farm system and finally make a positive impact with the big league club last September.
Even through some of the struggles in 2017, Buxton is consistently one of the first players to participate in early work on the field every day. He has improved his batting average over the .200 mark, which seemed improbable after starting the season with just two hits in his first 29 at-bats.
And even if he does have a bad game from time to time, his harshest critic is also his biggest fan.
"If I strike out in a game, when I get home he will say, 'Daddy you struck out today,'" Buxton said. "That allows me to laugh it off. I think that allows me to take pressure off of trying to be somebody that I'm not."
However, when Buxton gets home, his most pressing questions aren't even about his own play. Brixton will often ask how outfielder Max Kepler did on that given day, as the two have grown close during his visits to the clubhouse.
Brixton will make sure to say hello to just about anyone in the clubhouse, even if he doesn't know them. Buxton admitted he sees a lot of himself in his son, but with a more outgoing personality, which is something he stressed to him from day one.
Still, Buxton knows the importance of letting his son be himself, something his father always allowed him to do. He doesn't feel the need to force baseball on him, even though Brixton has already shown the interest.
In fact, the two of them will usually go to a local park with a baseball field after day games or any other time that Buxton is free -- an all-too-familiar scene for Buxton, who made frequent trips with to the local ballpark with his dad growing up.
"Most of the credit would go to him for taking me to the ball field every day to put in the work," Buxton said. "Just the small things that he could have been doing something else, he chose to go with me to the baseball field and help me reach my goal."
Shane Jackson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Minneapolis. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.