WASHINGTON -- It was 1990. Anthony Milledge saw his son, Lastings, then 5 years old, swing a bat and knew he was going to be a big league player. For the father, the talent just stood out.
Lastings, however, had other ideas. He wanted to play football, but Anthony convinced his son to forget about the sport. Anthony was already looking ahead. He felt Lastings would have a longer career in baseball.
"He felt it would be better for my body to play baseball, and I was more talented in baseball," Lastings said. "He said, 'You will have a longer career, you get paid a little bit better money and it's guaranteed.' When I was young, it didn't make sense, but it made sense once I got drafted."
Anthony made sure that nothing would get in the way of Lastings pursuing his dream of becoming a baseball player. Anthony was a strict disciplinarian. After school, father and son would go to the batting cage to practice Lastings' swing. Lastings always had to be home by 10 p.m.
"He always made sure that I was on the right road -- he was always strict on me, and he made sure I followed my dream," Lastings said. "[At the time] it didn't make much sense to me. When he would pick me up from school, It would be, 'Let's go. You have to go to the field today.'
"My dad was stricter than all of the other dads. I wanted my dad to be more lenient. I would see the other kids and they got to have a little bit of a normal life. But it worked out in the end. Once you get older, you realize he was protecting you from a lot of stuff and telling you how to be responsible."
The dreams of father and son came true. Lastings was drafted by the Mets in the first round of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft. The day he was drafted, it was the first time Lastings saw Anthony cry. Three years later, Lastings was in the big leagues with New York.
By November 2007, Milledge was traded to the Nationals, where he is now considered one of the up and coming players on the squad. As the Nationals introduced Lastings at a press conference a month later, Anthony stood proudly with his family in the background.
About 30 minutes later, Anthony was defending his son, who had a less than favorable reputation with the Mets.
"Everybody said he did this and he did that," he said. "'He's wild and a thug.' They don't really know Lastings. All they have to do is hang out with him for a week and they will find out the type of person that he is. He is a great kid. The people in Washington will find out."
Father knows best.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.