When Brandon Hyde the family man ponders the personal significance of Father’s Day, the first thing he wants you to know is he had a terrific role model.
His dad rarely missed a ballgame or an opportunity to help his budding young baseball star pursue his major league dream. Barry Hyde was always around — through good times and bad — which is why it was so special for him to be on hand for Brandon’s first game as Orioles manager at Yankee Stadium on March 28.
“That’s the biggest thing to me,’’ Brandon said. “Still to this day, my dad is there.”
When Brandon Hyde the rookie manager thinks about the dual role he now plays as a father of three and a father figure to a few dozen young baseball players, he wonders if he measures up to that example.
Stepdaughter Aria is 18 and headed off to Syracuse University. Colton is 11 and Addison is 9. Wife Lisa, of course, holds down the fort, but there are still those pangs of regret when Hyde’s dream job causes him to miss a memory.
“What kills me is I never get to see my son play ball and never get to see my [youngest] daughter horseback ride,” he said. “So, I just watch a lot of video of people filming them for me. That’s the hardest part, not being able to see their activities and not to be able to do that.
“My dad was at every one of my games, from the time I was 6 until I was in college. My dad was at every one of my games. For me not to be there is heartbreaking. You just try to make up for it with being together as much as you possibly can.”
It is the familiar lament of a big league dad. The professional baseball season — from the first day of spring training until the last day of the postseason — can last more than eight months. Hyde, 45, won’t have to worry about October this year, but he spent the past five seasons as a coach with the Chicago Cubs, who reached the postseason four of those years and won the World Series in 2016.
He’s not looking for sympathy, of course. He’s living the dream that grew out of a “roller coaster” minor league playing career that never got him to the promised land. He has worked a long time to earn a job held by only 29 other men, and to provide a secure future for himself and his family.
It’s just a matter of balance, and Hyde has achieved that by shuttling between his home in Chicago and his new workplace in Baltimore whenever it’s humanly possible.
Just a couple of weeks ago, he headed back to see Aria graduate from high school, and explained afterward how strange it felt to let Tim Cossins sit in Hyde’s manager’s chair for even one game. On Sunday, when the Orioles headed home from Houston, he caught a commercial flight to Chicago to spend the Monday off-day with the family before getting up in the dark to fly to Baltimore the next day.
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“It’s very challenging,” Hyde said. “We just try to see each other as much as possible. I take them out of school for spring training. Fortunately, the school that they go to allows that. We have a tutor set up at spring training every year. That’s an extra month we get to spend together each year. This is the first year that my daughter and my son are old enough to realize that I’m gone, because I lived in Chicago that whole time.”
This weekend, the family is in town to spend Father’s Day with dad, and Colton gets to hang around the team, something he got to do a lot while Hyde was with the Cubs. That’s one of the tradeoffs that make Hyde’s long absences from home a little easier on father and son. It’s an opportunity other kids can only dream about.
Colton had had one of those memory-making afternoons Saturday, taking grounders at first base before the Orioles played the Boston Red Sox at Camden Yards.
“He started coming to the ballpark with me a lot in 2014 and ’15,’’ Hyde said. “He was at a lot of our games and hung out in the clubhouse pregame. Always shagged during batting practice. Grew up in the Cubs clubhouse. We had a group of players and coaches that treated him incredibly. I loved the fact that he could experience being around such great men and I think any kid would do anything to have the experiences he’s had.
“He’s probably a little bit spoiled, but he’s been at every postgame celebration the Cubs have had the last four years. So, for him to see those things, I think that’s fantastic and I love having him here.”
It will be a particularly special extended weekend because the Orioles schedule has smiled on Hyde, sending him back to his roots in the San Francisco Bay Area for the series that starts Monday against the Oakland Athletics.
“It’s a huge deal,’’ he said. “My son’s going to be here for Father’s Day and I’m going to see my dad the next day in the Bay Area. … To be able to see my dad in San Francisco when we go, that’s going to mean a lot. I’m very grateful. I’m very appreciative. I’m very lucky and I don’t take that for granted.”