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Sanchez's dad is his No. 1 fan

Sanchez's dad is his No. 1 fan

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PITTSBURGH -- Fred Sanchez Sr. had to drive his truck around all day, and his son around all night. It was his normal routine during the summer months in downtown Los Angeles.

See, there were few Little League baseball fields where the Sanchez family called home. It was kind of a bad place for baseball-crazed Freddy Jr. to live.

So, after spending countless hours in a truck, Fred Sr. would come home and pick up his son to go play baseball, fighting 30-45 minutes of traffic, day after day and night after night.

"We were all over the place," Fred Sr. recalled.

In a way, it was his fault. He was the one who got Freddy Jr. into baseball. The two would play catch in the back yard for hours, and then sit in the living room to catch their favorite team, the Dodgers, on television.

"That was basically it," the Pirates All-Star said. "It seemed like it was always baseball, baseball, baseball."

But Fred. Sr. was on to something. When other kids were fooling around, his son was trying to learn. Young Freddy Sanchez was a student of the game, as well as an adorer.

"His coaches always said Freddy's not only a good player but he's a smart player," the elder Sanchez said.

From there, Freddy Sanchez would go on to play in middle school, high school and college, his father only a few steps behind.

Freddy Sanchez graduated from high school in 1996. He was a three-year varsity player and became the No. 3 prospect in the area.

"I love the game myself," Freddy Sr. said. "I just enjoyed watching him play all the time. Even when he was little, I saw something in him. I said, 'I can't believe this kid. He does all this like he's a grown-up.'"

After college came the pros, where Freddy Sanchez not only made a name for himself, but for the entire Sanchez family

The proudest moment in his professional career came during his second full season in the big leagues, when Freddy Sanchez became a Pittsburgh fan favorite and played in the 2006 All-Star game at PNC Park.

"Oh my goodness, the ovation they gave him, it brought tears to my eyes," said Fred Sr., who attended the game. "It was a tear-jerking moment. But he deserves it. He worked so hard. He was always a good son and a good person."

Fred Sr. cried a second time later that season, when he saw his son hit .344 to become the 11th player in Pirates history -- and first since 1983 -- to capture the NL batting crown.

"Ask his agent. I told him Freddy is going to win the batting title," Fred Sr. said. "I said, 'You watch. He's not going to be just another player out there. He's going to go out and do things.' It was something else. I was so proud."

Freddy Jr. said his dad is his No. 1 fan.

"He keeps track of all the games and everything," said the second baseman. "I think it was more special for him than it was for me. It was definitely a special moment for the Sanchez family."

Now, Freddy Sanchez and his wife, Alissa, have a family, including sons Evan (3) and Ryan (four months).

Sanchez admits it is tough to go on road trips and miss opportunities to spend time with his children.

"But we have the Web cam now," he explained. "Every night we get on that and I get to say goodnight to them. But it's not the same as being with them.

"That's the tough thing about baseball. You do travel a lot and have to be away from them. But at the same time, during the offseason you can be with them four-five months straight."

A lot like the time Freddy Sr. and Freddy Jr. spent on the highway together.

Todd Krise is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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