Father kept O'Connor's spirits up

Father kept O'Connor's spirits up

WASHINGTON -- Nationals left-hander Mike O'Connor has always loved the game, and it was his father, Tom, who got him into the sport.

When he was a youngster, Mike lived in Dallas, and he remembers Tom taking him to Rangers games. Such trips meant that Mike would get autographs from players such as Buddy Bell and Ruben Sierra.

When the family moved to Maryland, Tom and Mike went to Orioles games whenever the Yankees or Nolan Ryan came to town.

"My father coached me when I was younger," O'Connor said. "He took me to games when we were living in Texas. I enjoyed going to the games with him."

When it comes to his own baseball career, Mike credits Tom for being there every step of the way. There was a time when Mike was going to quit playing the game at George Washington University because of lack of playing time.

"My sophomore year, I didn't pitch a lot and I wanted to leave and go to a different school," Mike said. "I was kind of frustrated where I was at, and my father wanted me to stay. He didn't want me to give up on what I was doing."

It turned out that father knew best. Mike O'Connor turned out to be successful at George Washington, and he's now a fixture in the Nationals rotation.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.