Great Lakes hitting coach Razor Shines owns 12 championship rings from his career as a player, coach and manager in the Minors and Majors. His proudest moment, however, came April 15 of this season, and he wasn't even at bat.
Devin Shines, Razor's son, dug into the batter's box at Dow Diamond with the Great Lakes Loons trailing Fort Wayne, 4-3. Shines locked in on a pitch and sent it soaring over the left-field fence, a three-run blast that helped lift the Loons to a 6-5 victory.
"I've been in professional baseball for 30 years," said Razor Shines. "Obviously, collecting my first Major League hit was special, being on a Major League coaching staff ... but this is the best year -- being able to be around my son. I told him in the dugout after he hit that home run, it felt better than the first hit I got in the Majors."
When Razor Shines was released by the New York Mets, along with the rest of manager Jerry Manual's coaching staff after the 2010 season, he finally crossed paths with his son, who had been a standout player at Oklahoma State.
"After I was released by the Mets, I decided to take the next year off," Razor Shines recalled. "There were offers to coach on the Minor League level, but I decided to take off to watch my son play college baseball, because I had never seen him play. After the season, he was drafted by the Dodgers, so I would go down to the Arizona League where they had him."
Eventually an opportunity with the Dodgers arose that was too good to pass up.
"As the summer progressed, the fall and the winter, there was an opportunity," he continued. "The Dodgers called and asked if I would be interested in taking the [Great Lakes] hitting coach position if it became available. I was told there would be an opportunity for my son to make that club, if he made it out of Spring Training. So I said I would take the job if it came about. It came about, and Devin made the team in the spring.
"I never saw my son play high school baseball. Obviously with the Major League season, and Spring Training starting in February, I never had the opportunity to be around him. It's just a blessing to get the opportunity to see him play."
Devin Shines, a 5-foot-9, 185-pound outfielder, said he loves having his Dad as his hitting coach at Great Lakes.
"He can be harder on me at times than the other guys, but at the same time, he treats us all pretty fair," Devin Shines said about his father. "I enjoy having him here. Of course, sometimes, father-son, we butt heads. But we also have a lot of fun together.
"It was an advantage to have my Dad being who he is, being around pro baseball. I was always fundamentally sound," added Devin. "As far as him not being there every game, that was different, but then again, he was at all of my football games. I was used to him not being there for baseball and just calling him on the phone and going over my at-bats that way. There were a lot of phone conversations."
Razor Shines said he is dedicated to helping all the Loons develop into Major Leaguers but that he's also a proud father.
"The Dad part of me is always into it," Razor Shines said. "It's always there. I try to put it aside when we're doing team stuff. I have 12 other guys I'm paying attention to and giving the same time. I'm Dad to them, too. I'm working to help them develop, and I'm there to help them with whatever they need, because some guys have a lot to deal with off the field. But when we're out to dinner, or we're working one-on-one, it's always in play."
Great Lakes manager John Shoemaker said the Shines have handled the situation well.
"Razor is the ultimate professional," Shoemaker said. "This is one of the hardest working guys I've seen in professional baseball. You can tell he's instilled those work habits in his son. Devin comes to the park every day to work. He's aggressive, and he knows what we're here to do. Their relationship has been that of a player and a coach. Sure, they have their relationship as a father and a son, off the field, but when it's game time, Devin is one of the other guys, and Razor is trying to help him get to the big leagues, just like he's trying to help all of these other kids."
Grand assist: A grand slam was a key part of Peoria first baseman Paul Hoilman extending his hitting streak Sunday. The Chiefs trailed, 4-2, when Hoilman's blast turned around the game and helped give Peoria a 7-5 victory. He finished with a career-high five RBIs. Hoilman extended his streak to 21 games Tuesday, tying Kerry Robinson (1996) and Jack Wilson (1999) for the Peoria record. Hoilman led the nation last season in slugging percentage at East Tennessee State.
Ending a skid: Clinton ended a 19-inning scoreless streak Sunday with a shutout. The LumberKings beat Burlington, 4-0, thanks to a complete game by Jordan Shipers. Anthony Phillips ended the scoreless streak with a two-run homer.
Marathon day: Dayton and Fort Wayne played a doubleheader that featured a 16-inning first game. The TinCaps won the marathon, 3-1. The teams took a brief break, then played the second game, which started at 10:55 p.m. on Tuesday night. The second game only lasted one hour and 33 minutes after the opener lasted four hours, 22 minutes.