You wouldn’t think Logan Morrison and Ryan Pressly have much in common.
Morrison is a little over a year older, married with a child and is not necessarily brash, but definitely outspoken. That outspokenness has led to times where he’s butted heads with people in charge, but he’ll tell you he’s never said anything he didn’t mean or felt was true in the moment.
Pressly, meanwhile, turns 30 in December. He’s Texan to his core, all the way down to the cowboy boots, tattoo on his back and even dating a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. Pressly’s presence is more of the strong and silent type, with a quiet ferocity that has turned him from a Rule 5 flier into a strong late-inning reliever for Paul Molitor’s Minnesota Twins.
But baseball is the great unifier.
Both grew up under tough-love fathers named Tom.
Morrison’s father was in the Coast Guard, a mountain of a man who clearly passed on his size to Logan, who is listed at 6-foot-3 and 245 pounds. He worked on oil rigs before joining the Guard, and as a result, it’s no surprise he instilled work ethic with a no-nonsense approach toward his son — his and Diane’s only child. They moved around quite a bit when Morrison was a kid, settling in Louisiana where Morrison went to Northshore High (Slidell, La.), the same high school attended by Twins prospect Ryan Eades.
Morrison does the Coast Guard salute after every home run in honor of his father:
Pressly’s dad was old-school Texas. He raised Ryan similarly, to respect everyone he came in contact with and to work hard. “He raised me with the right manners in a very southern way,” Pressly said at Target Field on the last homestand.
Pressly smiles when you ask him about his dad. Morrison is less outward with his emotion, but you can sense the pride in his voice when he talks about the elder Morrison.
Both players lost their fathers to cancer; Pressly’s dad passed on Nov. 1, 2013 due to renal cell carcinoma, while Morrison’s dad died of lung cancer on Dec. 12, 2010.
As a result, Father’s Day can be complicated.
The reason I feel comfortable writing this is that I can relate. I was adopted as a young boy, and my adopted father Scott — the last person I’ve ever called “dad” — was killed in a car accident on July 17, 1994.
The amazing thing is that both men lived long enough to see their children play in the big leagues. Morrison absolutely mauled Triple-A pitching in 2010 (.302/.427/.487), and got a 62-game stint with the Florida Marlins with his debut coming on July 27 against the San Francisco Giants.
There was a little more luck involved with Pressly, who was taken by the Twins in the Rule 5 draft on Dec. 6, 2012. That meant he had to spend the entire season on the big-league roster — which he did — after never having pitched above Double-A Portland. In fact, he’d spent most of the year at High-A Salem (76 innings) in 2012, so it was quite a jump which he handled capably.
For Morrison, it meant the world that his father could see him play at the game’s highest level.
“Yeah, that was huge, not only for us as a family, but just for him,” Morrison said. “He was just hanging on until he could see me play. Before I got called up he was down in the dumps, really skinny, not eating. Partly because of the chemo, partly because he was depressed or whatever. Before I left, I remember having a conversation with him being like, ‘You know if I go and face Billy Wagner, I am not thinking I am going to get out. You are facing Billy Wagner right now from the left side. You have to know that you are going to beat it. If you don’t know if you are going to beat it, there is no point in fighting it.’”
In a way, Logan was giving the tough love back to Tom that his father had given him over the previous 22 years.
“Talking to him like that, and me just getting called up was probably the best medicine he could have gotten,” Morrison said. “His demeanor turned around. I will never forget the conversation that I had once I found out I got called up. It was two in the morning. He was sick. I called the house and my mom answered. I asked if dad was up. He was, so I asked if she could put him on the phone. They were both on the call, and I said, “I am going to the big leagues tomorrow.” It was cool. My mom was crying, I was crying and he was like, “Alright cool. Now it’s time to go to work.”
About a month after Morrison debuted, his father — ill from the effects of treatment and unable to fly — took a train trip lasting more than a full day to finally see his son in the big leagues in New York at Citi Field.
Morrison isn’t totally sure if his father shed tears after hanging up the phone when he called to tell him he was going to the big leagues, but the reaction was vintage Tom. “More than anything for him, it wasn’t about getting there,” Morrison said. “It was about staying there and being productive.”
Morrison has a lot of that attitude in him, too.
“I think I have a lot of that in me, to a fault sometimes,” Morrison said. (I’m) never satisfied with a lot of areas in my life where I should be. You take the bad with the good.”
Morrison has tried to pass some of that down to his daughter, Ily, though he readily admits it’s a little different with a daughter.
“I would probably be able to draw more similarities if I had a boy,” Morrison said. “But for me, the one thing I will take from him is you know the way that he pounded work ethic into me. It doesn’t matter what you do, you have to work at it day in and day out, no matter what you have done, you have to get better.
“That’s true with whatever you do, whether you’re a garbage man or whatever. He was like a no b.s., no bullcrap or whatever.”
Morrison’s wife Christie says that Logan is a wonderful father.
“He’s a really great dad and it has definitely changed him as a person in such a positive way,” she said. “He really enjoys our daughter and loves to do fun things with her.
“I know he really misses his dad and having him to talk about to, especially about baseball and his swing and that sort of thing. Logan doesn’t talk much about it, but I know he’s always thinking of him. He was such a huge part in Logan’s baseball life.”
Morrison did say that one thing he has taken from his father as an approach to how he raises his daughter is on how she experiences things.
“He let me experience things, and then he told me you should or shouldn’t do this,” Morrison said. “I kind of let (Ily) do that to a point where she is still safe. We have a scooter for her that she goes around, where I say she has to slow down and my wife is basically holding her the entire time on the scooter. I think for me, it isn’t tough love, but trying to just keep explaining to her that the way to do things. What not to do, what to do and why to do them. Not just telling her no, but why. And hopefully it starts to stick.”
Morrison said he’s also grown a little closer to his mother as an only child, though her role has evolved from referee to supporter.
“I feel like before my dad passed, she was always the mediator, the referee,” he said. “She would show tough love, but most times she was the shoulder to cry on or to come like talk to or whatever. Since then, we have a better friendship I guess. She gives me advice here and there like a mother would, but more often than not she just listens and kind of lets me vent or do whatever, and has helped out a lot with that.”
Ily makes Father’s Day easier, Morrison said.
“Being a dad myself, it helps,” Morrison said. “I think that, I am doing exactly what he would want me to do: play baseball in the big leagues and take care of my daughter. I definitely remember and think about him on those type of days. For me it is just one of those things where I know he wanted me to play baseball for a long time, and I’m doing that. He wanted me to have a family and have kids, and I am doing that. So I don’t really have to wonder or think about it; I know I am making him proud.”
Father’s Day is particularly difficult for Pressly, who is also an only child.
“It is tough,” Pressly said. “I don’t get to talk to him, which, there is times in my life where there are questions I need to ask him. He was such an unbelievable guy. Having him around was freaking awesome, and it is tough not having him around for Father’s Day.”
Pressly’s father was the voice of reason whenever he needed it, sending him texts during and after the game to keep him in line. Before he passed, he wrote Ryan a note, and it’s one the younger Pressly greatly treasures.
“He wrote me a letter before he passed away,” Pressly said. “It seemed he knew he was about to go. We have that at home in my lock box. He had some stuff in there that I will be able to keep the rest of my life.”
Pressly also has “RIP DAD” stitched into the thumb of his Rawlings glove, which can be seen every time he takes the mound:
Pressly has also grown closer to his mother, Jan, though it hasn’t always been smooth sailing.
“We have butted heads every once in a while but I think that is every parent and their kids,” Pressly said with a warm smile. “But I think we have grown closer. She is my lifeline for my parent side of it. We talk about a lot of stuff like that.”
While Pressly isn’t a father yet, he certainly has taken lessons from his dad that he’ll pass on when the time comes.
“Some of the stuff my dad did to me, I will do to my kids,” Pressly said. “I think everyone is like that. My dad was tough to me. I was raised old school; he was strict, very Texas, very respectful and whether people make you mad or disrespect you, he raised me with the right manners in a very southern way.
“When it came to baseball, we always butted heads. I think that was the best part. As much as we fought in the car on the way to baseball tournaments, at the end of the day he was like, ‘Hey man, it is just a game, I want the best for you and you want the best for yourself.’ He knew me and he knew the way I responded, and that was pretty cool.”
Pressly said that he definitely needed that type of discipline from his parents, and without them, he wouldn’t have made it as far as he has.
“Both my parents, if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be here right now,” he said. “The way that they handled me at home and the way they handled me on and off the field, I don’t know if I would be here.”
Pressly was by no means a bad kid, but by his own admission, he was always up to something.
“I was always in trouble,” he said with a laugh. “I pushed the limits a lot. I was an only child. My dad and me would take on each other in a fun way. There were times when I wanted to do something and he would say we need to do something else. Just like any other parents, and we would butt heads. There was one time I got kicked out of the house, maybe around age 17. It was about test scores or something, and I was being hard headed. So my dad said, ‘You want to be like that, you will find out the hard way?’
“And then I went and slept in my car in the high school parking lot and learned that’s what’s up,” Pressly said.