Tigers prospect Shawn Teufel took a giant step toward achieving his dream of playing in the Majors on Thursday night when he flew into Buffalo to make his International League debut for Toledo.
But while mother Val was cheering him on from her seat down the third-base line, father Tim had to control his emotions from the home team's dugout.
The younger Teufel (1-0) scattered three hits and three walks while striking out seven batters over six innings to lead the Triple-A Mud Hens to a 4-0 shutout of the Buffalo Bisons -- a team his dad has managed for the past two years.
"It was fun. It was great that he was there to see me pitch," Shawn said. "When he picked me up at the airport, he told me to pitch my game and to do what I do and that hopefully everything would work out.
"During the game, I tried not to pay too much attention to it. After the game, he said congratulations and he gave me a big hug. It was pretty cool."
For Tim, who played for the Minnesota Twins, New York Mets and San Diego Padres during his 11-year Major League career, the game was just as special.
"As a dad, it's different because it's not a situation you're accustomed to," he said. "I was thrilled to hear that he was coming here. Did I see it coming? No. He was in High-A ball in the Florida State League and they needed a spot starter. All he's ever wanted was a chance.
"I've only seen him pitch three times, so my emotions were with him, but I was also coaching third base for Buffalo. I wouldn't do anything to disrespect my team or cheat them out of chances to score."
The southpaw worked into and out of trouble a couple times in his debut, but he was pleased with how he was able to keep putting up zeros.
He escaped a bases-loaded jam in the third frame by striking out Zach Lutz and Val Pascucci to retire the side, and he left runners in scoring position in the fifth and sixth innings.
"It felt great. It was a good feeling to help out the team and get a win. I kept the ball down and I threw my off-speed stuff for strikes," said the 25-year-old, who celebrated his birthday with the Class A Advanced Lakeland Flying Tigers on Tuesday.
"I had to catch my breath when I got ahead of myself out there on the mound, but getting out of those big innings was huge. I knew I wasn't going to throw a perfect pitch every time, but I wanted to make sure that my mechanics were right."
And his father's assessment? "I told him to throw strikes and compete. He followed the lead of his catcher [Omir Santos] and he shook him off when he needed to. He is still a ways away, but he made a big jump tonight. It is a dream of his to make it [to the Majors] and it would be a thrill for me too."
Teufel is in his second season of pro ball. He was selected in the 25th round of the 2010 Draft, less than six months after his father took over the reins in Buffalo after managing the Savannah Sand Gnats in 2007 and the St. Lucie Mets in '08 and '09.
The younger Teufel went 1-1 with a 2.57 ERA over 20 games -- including one start -- across three levels last season. He was 4-3 with a 3.63 ERA in 19 appearances for the Flying Tigers prior to his promotion.