PawSox Dads Take Center Stage for Father’s Day

PawSox INF Nick Lovullo, Photo Credit: Louriann Mardo-Zayat

It’s dad’s turn to take a bow in the spotlight.

With this coming Sunday serving as the official 24-hour observance devoted specifically to fatherhood, several PawSox players weighed in on what dear ole’ dad meant to them while growing up, and also on sharing baseball experiences with their own sons.

Nick Lovullo (infielder), Dad’s name: Torey

At the very core, the connection between this particular father and son is rooted in baseball.

Growing up, Nick would spend one month during his summer vacation in the company of Torey. Minor-league cities such as Buffalo, Columbus and Pawtucket were the ports of call … wherever Torey happened to be managing at that particular moment.

From 2013-15, Nick played his ball at College of the Holy Cross. A California native, Nick committed to the Crusaders before Torey joined the Red Sox as the team’s bench coach. It was a chance for the Lovullos to connect on a much deeper level, since they were based in the same state.

“Growing up, he rarely got to see me play baseball,” said the younger Lovullo. “It was a chance to make up for lost time.”

If the Red Sox had a day game at Fenway Park and Holy Cross was scheduled for a weekend doubleheader at home, it was common for Nick to see his dad sitting in the stands.

“He would book it out of Fenway so he could see as many of our games as possible,” said Nick. “Baseball giveth back as far as seeing him during parts of the year where I was never really close to him geographically.”

Nick was present at Fenway Park the October 2013 night when the Red Sox wrapped up the World Series in six games against St. Louis.

“If I wasn’t out in this area for school, I probably wouldn’t have had that chance,” said Nick. “Definitely a cool moment to share with my dad.”

Torey Lovullo is now in his third season as manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Nick sees his father as a walking encyclopedia of baseball information as well as “the best person I could ever ask for. He’s always there for me as a dad first, which obviously means the world to me. As someone who’s played the game and has so much expertise, he knows what I’m going through and knows exactly the right thing to say to either get me back on track or to keep going.”

           Dan Runzler (relief pitcher), Dad’s name: Terry             Dan’s son’s name: Ryan

Terry and Dan are both lefthanded, thus adding an intriguing layer to games of catch in the backyard while growing up. Dan’s 10-year-old self remembers the tradition of ESPN’s airing of “Sunday Night Baseball” during the summer months. His dad would man the grill before everyone sat down to watch that evening’s matchup.

“My father wasn’t the most athletic guy, but he always had a passion for baseball,” said Dan Runzler. “He always said that I should respect the game and the people around me … play hard and no excuses. He instilled that in me.”

Youngster Ryan Runzler’s first experience of spending time in a baseball clubhouse came when his dad Dan pitched for Pittsburgh in 2017.

“I’ve explained to him how fortunate he is to be around an environment like this. He loves to come in and say hello to the guys like he’s part of the team,” said Dan. “It’s cool to pass that on and show him how a clubhouse works and he’s been really receptive of it. It’s a joy for me to see him walk around the clubhouse and play catch on the field with him.”

PawSox relievers Trevor Kelley and Dan Runzler (left to right) Photo Credit: Louriann Mardo-Zayat

Trevor Kelley (relief pitcher), Dad’s name: Greg

“He had a lot on his plate, but my dad definitely played a big role in me playing baseball,” said Kelley. “He coached me throughout Little League and always seemed to be involved in baseball in some way or another. In high school, he was the public-address announcer for our games.

“We would try to play catch here or there, but he started flinching too much,” Kelley added with a smile. “Growing up, he did so much for me. “

              Juan Centeno (catcher), Dad’s name: Juan                 Juan‘s son’s name: Juan

“Every Sunday, I come early to (McCoy Stadium) just so I can play with my son,” said Centeno. “If we win, I make sure to bring him into the clubhouse. Very cool experience.”

The catcher’s dad, “was the one who took me to the field every day. After every game, he’ll call to see how I’m doing.”

PawSox catcher Juan Centeno, Photo Credit: Louriann Mardo-Zayat

Cole Sturgeon (outfielder), Dad’s name: Mike

“On and off the field, he was my best friend while growing up,” said Sturgeon. “He coached Little League but didn’t coach me, which was probably the best decision he ever made. He got to enjoy watching me play. We had 1-on-1 moments in the backyard that revolved around coaching.”

Adam Lau (relief pitcher), Dad’s name: Michael

“As soon as I could pick up a ball, we were playing catch in the backyard. It was cool to have my dad there to help with my development,” said Lau. “We haven’t played catch in years but he’ll give me an outsider’s perspective. Lots of positivity from him.”

Happy Father’s Day to the PawSox Dads and to all Fathers on this special day!