MOOSIC — This season feels different for Brady Lail.
The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders reliever is pitching with a redefined purpose. And every day, when he looks at the sonogram of his future daughter that hangs in his locker he gets a fresh reminder.
Lail isn’t pitching for just himself anymore. He has a family to support.
“I have a new incentive to play well. I have to take care of my family,” Lail said. “We still play this game, but it’s a new incentive. It’s a new goal. It’s not just for me to reach for me. I don’t want reach the big leagues just for me. I want to reach the big leagues for my family and to be able to support and be that dad that can be counted on and support the family.”
Father’s Day has always been special. But with Lail and his girlfriend, Katelyn Sharp, expecting a baby girl in October, Father’s Day brings new light this year.
For Lail, Father’s Day has always been about the appreciation of his dad, Ben. His father is his role model and that’s the example he wants to set for his daughter when the time comes.
It’s a role Lail can’t wait to embrace.
“That’s what I’m trying to take in, so when my baby girl is here, I’m a role model to her in her eyes because my dad’s a role model in my mind, and his dad was his role model,” Lail said. “You know, it’s the guys that take care of our families, and some people are blessed with that and some people have a hard time, but have to be in that role. I’ve been around such an amazing group of role models and dads, and I’m just glad that I’m going to be a part of one.”
With baseball as the main focus of his life most of the time, it only felt right to incorporate baseball into this journey.
Not only does Lail hang a pair of sonograms in his locker in the RailRiders clubhouse, but he also had his gender reveal at PNC Field surrounded by teammates. SWB catcher Kyle Higashioka lit Lail’s flair, which revealed pink smoke inside, as Sharp released pink confetti from a small hand cannon.
“When we revealed it and I could hear the guys screaming and everything, it made me emotional to realize, like, you know this game’s bigger than anybody expects or even thinks of,” Lail said in an interview during a recent episode of YES Network’s “Homegrown: The Path to Pinstripes.” “The relationships the we gain over the years and friendships, they’re special. All the guys, they’re just phenomenal for me. It means the world to me. It was awesome.”
But it wasn’t just a special moment for Lail. It was special for his teammates, like fellow reliever J.P. Feyereisen and outfielder Zack Zehner, too.
“It’s awesome for him and for Kate,” Feyereisen said. “Being that he’s kind of one of my brothers on the team, it’s just a lot more fun.”
“It was a lot of fun. We had been talking about it for months now, waiting for this moment,” Zehner added. “Brady’s like family. We’ve been playing together now for two years, so you’re a part of his life and we’re there every step of the way. It’s really nice that he invited us to be a part of that moment.”
So on this Father’s Day, despite his family living across the country in Utah, Lail will still make sure to call his father and tell him that he loves him and how important a role he’s played in his life. Lail said his father will tune in on June 17 as the RailRiders travel to Syracuse for a 1:05 p.m. tilt. He hopes he doesn’t have to leave the couch.
And one day, Lail hopes the roles will be reversed.
“My whole life has changed,” Lail said. “I know she’s not born yet, but I’ve kind of taken on a role model role. Be a little more mature and kind of grow up a little bit, but still have fun at the same time. I’m super-excited. I don’t even know what to expect because I’m new at it. Thinking I’m a father, it’s kind of an accomplishment. I know it’s weird, but I have to take pride in it. I’m really excited for the day. I’m really excited to meet her.
“I have to fill some big shoes. My dad was such an amazing father to me and still is, and I hope that I can be half of what he is.”
Reach DJ Eberle at 570-991-6398 or on Twitter @ByDJEberle