Richard Verlander and his wife, Kathy, are to deliver their message at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Bedford Senior High School, where they’ll discuss lessons contained in their book Rocks Across the Pond and talk about what they learned in the course of raising their two sons, the older of whom, Justin, is the star pitcher for the Detroit Tigers and last year’s Cy Young Award winner and Most Valuable Player in the American League.
They’ll also sign copies of the book, which came out in June, and and take questions. Admission is free. The Verlanders’ appearance is sponsored by the high school’s athletic department and PTA Council.
“The more folks we talked to, the more we realized that people really do want to hear about our journey. It’s really about success, and trying to raise success in your children. We aim at parents and kids. I think the message resonates either way,” Mr. Verlander said from his home near Richmond, Va.
He said the book title derives from an experience he had had with Justin when the major leaguer was 10. The two were throwing stones across a pond and Justin showed his pitching precocity by hurling his into the trees on the opposite shore. His father’s fell into the water.
It was clear that Justin had a real talent, yet three or four years later, he was not even the best pitcher on his baseball team.
“He was a classic late bloomer. Justin wasn’t even drafted out of high school. He was drafted after three years at Old Dominion University. He was the number one draft choice. There’s a lesson there: Stay with it. People are so quick to tell you you can’t do something,” he said.
Achieving his son’s level of excellence requires self-discipline, Mr. Verlander noted, and this is an important part of their presentation.
“We talk about control, and how to hit the strike zone. Then we transition into controlling your life. It’s really a lot more important than many parents and youngsters think it it is,” Mr. Verlander said. “We try to get kids to look inward. When they’re younger, they're more impressionable, but they have a hard time getting their head around the idea that a young guy like Justin was just like them.”
Mr. Verlander said he and his wife especially enjoy taking children and parents’ questions, which often center on Justin.
“They all want to know what Justin was like. Did he have a lot of homework? Did he get into a lot of trouble? The kids want to know, Was he really like me? They have this guy on a pedestal. They see him on TV and they try to get their little heads around the fact the he really was just like them,” he said.