Fathers, sons celebrate baseball at All-Star game
Bathauers, Venengas looking for lifetime memories at MLB showcase at Chase Field
KINGMAN - John Bathauer lives and dies baseball, and he passes that same passion onto his 10-year-old sons, Mike and Matt.
But yet in his 46 years, he has never had an opportunity to attend an all-star game.
The Bathauers, along with John Venenga and his son, Eric, will be just some of the estimated 49,000 fans attending Tuesday's midsummer classic at Chase Field in Phoenix.
"I'm 46 and I've never been to one, and being that close, it's too close not to go," Bathauer said. "It is a very big deal to see the best players in the world."
Bathauer spent $2,200 for tickets for both Monday's Home Run Derby and Tuesday's All-Star game, and while the cost may be high, it's an experience of a lifetime for him and his sons.
"This will be the best trip ever," Mike Bathauer said. "This is my first All-Star Game and his, too. He hasn't been to one in 46 years. I'm just hoping it's going to be a better time than anything else. I'm pretty sure I'm going to remember this for a long time."
The timing of the game couldn't be better for Bathauer. He coaches the Kingman North Little League 10-11 All-Star team that recently won the District 9 championship. The team is currently preparing for the upcoming state tournament next week in Yuma, but this week he will take time to see the best players in the world.
"We're in the middle of our all-stars, so it's kind of fitting that we're moving on and we're going to go watch the best all-stars," John Bathauer said. "Then we're going to go play our all-star tournament right afterward. So it's a nice, fun lead-in."
The idea of a once in a lifetime opportunity to do something with his son is the main reason why Venenga decided to put his name in with the Arizona Diamondbacks in order to get tickets through a lottery system.
"That's what the exciting part is because I never even thought about trying before," Venenga said of trying to get tickets. "It's never been close enough before. I feel lucky that we live here in Kingman and getting down to Phoenix is not that hard of an issue. The people that we are going to see and the things that we are able to do is pretty exciting."
Venenga was selected and spent $800 to purchase the All-Star package that includes tickets to the All-Star Fanfest that opened Friday at the Phoenix Convention Center, today's Futures Game, which showcases some of the top minor league prospects, the celebrity softball game, the Home Run Derby and the All-Star Game.
"That's what makes it all worthwhile for me. It's something that I can do with my son and he will remember it," Venenga said.
Venenga also tried to get his 14-year-old son Eric the opportunity to shag fly balls during the Home Run Derby. Venenga first emailed the Diamondbacks, who told him to contact Major League Baseball, who told him to contact the host team.
"We ended up with no luck," Venenga said. "I tried as many avenues as I could, so we are going to sit in the stands and enjoy it."
According the Diamondbacks vice president of communications, Shaun Rachau, the kids who shag fly balls during the derby, are pre-selected by MLB.
"It's a mixture of kids from across the country and Arizona," he said.
Although disappointed, Eric is finding the bright side of it.
"It really would've been nice, but the seats are all-you-can-eat so you really can't pass that up," he said.
For Venenga and Bathauer, they are doing something that has been done for the past 142 years since professional baseball first started, passing the game on from generation to generation. For this pair of Kingman fathers and sons, the game will generate a mountain of memories that are bound to last a lifetime.
"It's going to be fun," Eric Venenga said. "It's going to be a good experience for the both of us.