PORTLAND, Ore. -- It might be hard to follow in your father's footsteps when he was fast enough to swipe 465 bases off Major League pitchers, but Eric Young Jr. appears to be fully up to the challenge. The two even describe their similarities the same way.
"He definitely has more pop than me," said the elder Eric Young, who actually belted the first roundtripper at home in Colorado Rockies history in the first Rockies at-bat at Mile High Field in 1993. "He'll be able to do some things a little better than me. He's a taller version, stronger version. But he has the same drive, probably even more. So it's like deja vu when I'm up there watching him a little bit."
The younger EY's version: "I probably have a little bit more power. I'm longer and taller than him. I can't do some of the things lower to the ground as him."
Both are in PGE Park for the Triple-A All-Star Game, father in the booth in his role as ESPN analyst, son starting at second base for the Pacific Coast League. It's the second time in a week they've been together, as both were in St. Louis for the Futures Game, where Young Jr. drilled a third-inning home run to the center-field seats at Busch Stadium. Even though EY hadn't seen his son play since Opening Day, they remain in constant contact throughout the season.
"Me and my son, you know, we're very close. I mean, best buddies. So I don't spend a lot of time trying to coach him. I spend a lot of time in the mental aspect of the game. And then when he's away and something's going on, like I told him, 'I can look at your recap and say exactly what you did at your at-bats.' I know his swing and I know him that well. We tend to talk more like that. If there's a play defensively, maybe he got an error or something, he explains to me what happened.
"I don't harp on things. I don't dwell on things. I'm his guidance. Of course, daddys and moms are always your guidance, and that's what I'm doing with him. He has to develop his own style out there in the way he's going to play and approach games. All I can do is throw some suggestions out there and hopefully some stick and will work for him."
Even when they can't talk, the Colorado Springs' speedster -- he led all the Minors in steals in 2006 (87) and is tied for the lead this season with 48 -- knows his father is probably also up to speed on his son's progress.
"Being on all those different teams, all the different people that he played against, there's always eyes and ears everywhere and they probably still have his phone number," he said, smiling. "I don't worry about it because I keep my nose clean all the time."
To both father and son's credit, it seems Young took advantage of the benefits of growing up in a pro athlete's shadow and was unaffected by the possible pitfalls.
"I was never really pressured to play baseball. That was something I chose and that I love. By him saying 'Do what you want to do and what you love,' it made my decision a lot easier.
"Every year, every team that he was on, I had somebody different that I would go talk to about different things. His coaches always helped me out, different players. You know, I had Gene Glynn, one of his coaches helping me out. Sandy Alomar, who was with the Mets. He always made sure I was focused on the bunting, even when I was in Little League. That plays a role now because it's embedded in my head, you know, work on my bunting. I always pick a lot of people's brains. Everybody has something different to bring to the table."
Still growing: The elder statesmen of the All-Star Game would be Buffalo's Nelson Figueroa and Lehigh Valley's Andy Tracy, 35-year-olds representing the International League. Figueroa, a right-hander with 91 Major League pitching appearances under his belt, appears to have absolutely no quit in him.
"I think anyone who's seen me work on a day-in, day-out basis, there's no one who says, 'There's a mid-30s has-been trying to hang on.' I think any time I'm out there giving my team a chance to win, whether it's Triple-A or the big leagues, wherever they put me to pitch, that's where I'm going to pitch. If the only way to prove myself better is to be an All-Star, I think I've done that."
Tracy is looking at this week's All-Star festivities as a chance to interact with the next generation of impact players.
"I know it's the back end of my career," the slugger said. "I figured they selected me to come out here, so I came out here. It's an honor to be playing with these young guys. They're going to be in the game for a long time. Hopefully, I'll get to know some of them and watch them, when I'm done, at the big league level. I'll be retired and watching them."
Whether it was Scott Brosius listening to Dale Murphy or Murphy listening to Johnny Pesky at Saturday's PGE Park All-Star FanFest, the younger players always look to the veterans for the common thread that keeps the history of the game alive.
"They [younger players] are always going to get stories out of me," said Figueroa. "I think that's one of the great things about being an older guy, veteran player. A guy who's seen the turn of the century during his career. I tend to laugh when these guys are like, 'Yeah, I've been playing for three years and I made my first All-Star Game.' I remember when I was that guy and it's great to see the excitement in their eyes.
"It's funny too, because I know I'm more excited just to have the opportunity to do it and to share this experience now with my daughter, who's five. She gets to come out here and see Daddy on the field and playing ball. It's something you always dream of, having your children come see you play and seeing you at a high level. You know? She doesn't come to the park to see Daddy get smacked around. She tells me before I go the park, 'Daddy, throw strikes and win.'"
Growing as a team: Salt Lake Bees outfielder Terry Evans makes the start in center field tonight and comes to Portland as a representative of a team that has had to grow in ways most, fortunately, never have to. The Angels' Triple-A affiliate was shaken badly in April when pitcher Nick Adenhart was tragically killed in an automobile accident shortly after making a triumphant debut with the big league club.
The scars are deep for his teammates, who have now gone half a season since losing their close friend.
"I think the team's rebounded pretty well," said Evans. "The shift from mourning to celebrating Nick's life was a transition that was made pretty well. That made things kind of go a bit smoother through the rest of the season. It rocked that whole organization, though. The big league team got a lot of attention, but that Triple-A team, some guys on that team, I'd have to say, were very, very close to Nick and they took it pretty hard as well. I think the transition's been pretty good just to celebrate the life of Nick throughout the season and just to go out there and make the most of every single day and thank God for the opportunity to be out there.
"It's definitely raised awareness and perspective in the organization. ... I mean, even in my own life, to make the most of every single day. You're not guaranteed tomorrow. Just make the most of every single day. Make the most of your time here. Make the most of your relationships and the people around you. Invest in people and treat people with respect. I always say a tragedy like that brings to light that you never know what might happen."
You're unpredictable: Most hurlers reach the pinnacle of success with either a lightning bolt for an arm or with pinpoint control. In some rare cases, a young pitcher has both. But Albuquerque's Charlie Haeger found another way to turn in an All-Star first half -- a knuckler.
"You know, I'm just trying to go out there and get people out with what I have," said Haeger, who can vary the speeds on his knuckleball. "Unfortunately, I wasn't blessed with the 99-mph fastball that some of these guys have, but I love the game of baseball and I was willing to do anything that it took to stay in the game. So I had to develop a knuckleball.
"I am pretty fortunate that I don't put a lot of strain on my body when I'm out there. Hopefully I can play this game for a long time."
Haeger worked with another knuckleballer named Charlie H, the great Charlie Hough, who used his deceptive pitch to win 216 games over an amazing 24-year Major League career.
"He's been great," smiled Haeger. "I don't think I'd be where I am today as far as my progression if I hadn't worked with him. Just a lot of things that we talked about and things he showed me here and there that have really, really helped me."
Jared Ravich is a Senior Technical Producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.