LAKEWOOD RANCH — A golden silence casts its shadow across the motionless diamond.
There is no movement or laughter permeating through the dugout.
There’s nothing but pure silence.
But, within a matter of minutes, the sounds of a baseball bat smacking leather resonates through the outfield, breaking the eerie silence.
Back in the infield, a red Philadelphia Phillies equipment bag, a pair of bats and a bucket of baseballs lie side by side in preparation for the day’s practice.
To some, it may seem like ordinary baseball equipment, signs of America’s favorite pastime or the realization of a childhood dream.
But, for East County resident Scott Eyre and his two sons, Jacob, 11, and Caleb, 13, it’s a lifetime of memories.
It’s an 18-year professional baseball career, 18 World Series games, two generations of pitchers and countless Little League and high school games.
It’s parades and confetti; Halloween and missed opportunities and the relationship between a coach and his players.
But, most importantly, it defines the relationship between a father and his two sons.
“I started playing because of him, then I thought it was really fun,” said Jacob, who played for Lakewood Ranch Little League’s Observer team this spring. “I grew as a player and have just been trying to get better and progress. I got into pitching, though, because of him.”
A native of California, Scott Eyre grew up on the diamond, spending countless hours hitting wiffle balls off an ottoman in his family’s living room. One of five children, Eyre grew up a Dodgers fan, spending every Saturday at home with his mom and brothers watching the baseball game of the week.
“I always said, ‘I’m going to play in the big leagues,’” Eyre said. “Before I could walk, I could hit a ball. I was a really good hitter as a kid, and, yet, I grew up to be a pitcher.”
The Texas Rangers drafted Eyre in the ninth round of the 1991 major league baseball draft. A decade later, Caleb and Jacob would begin professional careers of their own, as sons of a major league baseball player.
Over the next eight years, Caleb and Jacob traveled across the country, watching their dad pitch for the San Francisco Giants, the Chicago Cubs and, finally, the Phillies.
They watched their father and Uncle Willie, who still pitches, come on in relief and pitch back-to-back innings.
They attended 18 World Series games, watching their dad come out on the winning end in 2008. Although, sometimes winning comes at a cost.
Following the Phillies World Series championship, Caleb and Jacob piled onto their dad’s float and made their way through downtown Philadelphia shooting off confetti as quickly as they could scoop it up off the ground.
They participated in batting practice next to Chase Utley and a host of Eyre’s other former teammates. They ran the bases, got autographs and learned what it takes to play at the next level.
“Baseball teaches you humility,” Eyre said. “It’s a very humbling game. Even when you’re throwing the best, you have to realize that your best isn’t always going to win. And, sometimes when you falter, you come out on top.
“It’s all about having fun, believing in yourself and trusting your teammates,” Eyre said. “It’s a game of trust.”
During the course of their father’s professional career, Caleb and Jacob both decided to take up the sport. The two brothers tried other sports along the way, but baseball has been the one sport that’s continually stuck with them.
After retiring following the 2009 season, Eyre began coaching Saint Stephen’s varsity baseball team. He also helps out with the JV team for which Caleb pitched this spring as a seventh-grader.
“I’ve been to every game,” Eyre said. “I just go from one game to the next. I’m having as much fun doing what I’m doing now than anything in the big leagues.”
Similar to their father, Caleb and Jacob, who are both right-handed (unlike their father who is left-handed), both pitched for their respective teams this season.
With the help of their father, the two brothers are spending the summer in the gym and on the practice field working on their strength and mechanics. Caleb also is playing for Cal Ripken Baseball’s 13U All-Star team, which begins district tournament play this weekend.
And, eventually, if given the opportunity, Jacob has aspirations of following in his father’s footsteps all the way to the big leagues.
“I’m going to try and work my hardest, so I can get to where he was,” Jacob said.
Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected].