Tackett's arm got charge from battery-mate dad


Almost every time Orioles reserve Jeff Tackett brushed his teeth as a child, he had the feeling Roland Hemond was watching him.

On the wall of the bathroom in the home in which Tackett grew up was a newspaper clipping that pictured Hemond and Tackett's father, Terry, a right-handed pitcher who never made it out of the minor leagues.

"Roland Hemond signed my father to his first contract," Tackett said of the current Orioles general manager. "Who would have thought I would be with him years later?"

Terry Tackett played for Chuck Tanner with or against several other men in baseball the younger Tackett has met, including Philadelphia Phillies manager Jim Fregosi, California Angels coach Bobby Knoop and recently fired Angels manager Buck Rodgers.

"Guys will see my father at a game, say, 'Hi,' to him, then all of the sudden put two and two together and figure out I must be his son," Tackett said.

Tackett inherited his strong arm from his father and also learned pitching tips from him.

"My dad wouldn't let me throw a curveball until I was a senior in high school," Jeff Tackett said. "I'm glad he did it that way."

Even after signing as a catcher after being selected in the second round of the 1984 draft and catching in the minor leagues for eight seasons, Tackett never lost the feel for his curveball.

It came in handy when he pitched against Detroit at Tiger Stadium last Aug. 11, becoming the first Orioles position player to take the mound since Todd Cruz on Sept. 18, 1984.

"I got a couple of guys out with my curveball and made my dad proud," Tackett said. "I wasn't going to go up there and lob the ball. I wasn't going to mess around, joke around and act like it's funny. I took it seriously."

Tackett pitched one scoreless inning, giving up a single and a walk.

His arm and his toughness can be traced, directly or indirectly, to his father. The arm he inherited. The toughness came in handy because of his father's job during Jeff's high school days; Terry was the high school's truant officer.

"He was just doing his job, and that led to a lot of fights," Jeff said. "I got into a lot of fights my freshman and sophomore years. I told kids I don't go around calling your dad names, so you don't go around calling my dad names. After I started winning the fights, the kids stopped saying things about my dad."

Jeff Tackett and his wife, Wendy, recently welcomed their third child into the world. Tackett plans to approach sports with his children the same way his parents did.

"My father is very sports-oriented and loves the game of baseball," he said. "But my parents never pushed me into anything. If I wanted to play baseball, I could play. That was fine with them. But they never pushed me. I've always just loved the game."

When Tackett's father was a high school baseball coach, Jeff served as the batboy for the team.

"I just loved the game," Tackett said. "I couldn't wait to get to the games to be the batboy for the older kids."

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