Originally published in Issue No. 11 of The NutshellSomeday, Crew Houchins might be a shortstop or a corner outfielder. Hopefully, according to his dad Zach Houchins, he'll throw right-handed and bat left-handed.Ten days after Crew was born on April 25, 2019, Zach Houchins returned to the Mobile BayBears, the Double-A affiliate
Originally published in Issue No. 11 of The Nutshell
Someday, Crew Houchins might be a shortstop or a corner outfielder. Hopefully, according to his dad Zach Houchins, he'll throw right-handed and bat left-handed.
Ten days after Crew was born on April 25, 2019, Zach Houchins returned to the Mobile BayBears, the Double-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels in the Southern League, where he began the 2019 season. Four days after his return to the BayBears, Houchins was eating his lunch in the team clubhouse before a game when he was called into the manager's office.
"I was supposed to be in the lineup that day, but (the Angels) called me in and released me," Houchins said.
After hearing the difficult news, Houchins, his wife Andie and then- 2-week-old son drove home six hours to Chattanooga, Tenn. Houchins' agent told him he'd likely hear from a different organization between 24 and 72 hours if they were interested in signing him.
"One day goes by, nothing," Houchins said. "Two days go by, nothing, and I was starting to get a little nervous. The third day goes by, and my agent hasn't heard anything. Fourth day, I started thinking about what I'd like to do with my life, what kind of job I'd like to pursue. Stuff that I've never really thought about because baseball has been it for 24 years now."
The San Francisco Giants called on the fifth day, May 12. It was Andie's first Mother's Day.
"I go out and go to the grocery store and grab some dinner for us," Houchins said. "I get a call while I'm walking out of the grocery story and it's the Giants and they asked me if I'd sign."
The Houchinses had already discussed what would happen if a team came calling. Zach recalls Andie telling him that she wanted him to play baseball as long as he loved it and would give it 100 percent.
"I've always given it 100 percent," Zach Houchins said. "Now that my son is here, I have something to get up there for that's not just myself. It pushes me a little more."
After a slow start with the Flying Squirrels, Houchins earned Eastern Player of the Week honors after an 11-game road trip that saw him bat .366 with five home runs. During the next homestand, Houchins celebrated his first Father's Day with his entire family in attendance at The Diamond.
"(It was) emotional," Houchins said. "My parents were (at The Diamond) and my dad came down while I was out there stretching before the game. I teared up a little bit when I hugged him - he's a first-time grandfather and I'm a first-time dad."
Houchins' strong play has continued for the Flying Squirrels over the last two months. In just 84 games, Houchins leads the team with 24 multi-hit games and is fourth on the team with nine home runs. In July, he earned his first career Mid-Season All-Star selection and was one of a franchise-record seven Eastern League All-Stars to represent the Flying Squirrels in the 2019 Eastern League All-Star Game.
"I was extremely, extremely happy about (being an All-Star)," he said. "After getting released, you think baseball is over with. I got a chance to play baseball again with the Giants, and I'm trying to make the most of it."
Even though the now-four-month-old Crew hasn't held a baseball yet, Houchins sees the All-Star potential in his son. Early in his career as a father, Houchins has used ideals his dad taught him as a kid - ones he'll pass on to Crew - and discovered the parallels between his career and his life off the field.
"Being positive goes a long way," Houchins said. "Being trustworthy and accountable - everyone gets taught (these things as a kid), but (my dad) enforced it. "Accountability is probably the biggest thing. Just anything you do in baseball, it's on you. We complain about the umpires and everything else - that is stuff we can't control. But swinging at bad pitches, that is stuff we can control. At the end of the day, it's on us. Being accountable for (what you can control), where my career has gone and what I've had to do to get to where I am, it's on me. It's helped me out a lot, and it's helping me out with my son."