“I thought it was kind of strange at first,” Kressin said, “but it seems to be working.”
The bat flew out of Kressin’s hands when he swung and into the netting. This time, however, his arms extended true to form. The power of the swing and meat of the bat crushed the ball.
Steve Sr. turned to his son: “That look better to you?” Steve Jr. shook his head and offered more instruction.
For more than a month, this has been the scene at Good Counsel’s secondary gym. Steve Sr., a former major league infielder, was hired as the Olney private school’s baseball coach in September. And while prospective players train during the winter before tryouts, his son, a Washington Nationals infielder, has been almost like a part-time coach.
“It’s a tremendous help when you get a recognizable major leaguer come into the gym and not only, ‘My God, he talked to me,’ but, ‘He said I was doing something right,’ ” Athletic Director Mark Jankovitz said. “As a teenage kid, that leaves a as huge impression.”
When the opening for the varsity baseball coach position was posted, Steve Sr., 52, applied. After spending six seasons in the major leagues from 1985 to 1990 — the highlight a 1987 World Series title with the Minnesota Twins, including a home run in Game 1 — Steve Sr. settled in Columbia to raise his family with his wife, Jill. He gave private baseball instruction and served as the Pittsburgh Pirates’ minor league infield coordinator in 2010, but had never coached a high school team.
“It’s really pretty special in that I love working with young men that are passionate about playing and eager to learn,” Steve Sr. said. “And Steve feels the same way. He’s just a few years removed from the amateur ranks, really. And he’s just as passionate about helping others.”
Steve Jr., 24, one of three Nationals players who live locally year-round, saw a chance to help his father’s new endeavor and offered to help during the offseason. He graduated from Atholton High in Columbia before heading to St. Petersburg College (Fla.) to play baseball. The Nationals took him in the 19th round of the 2008 draft.
Father and son share a close bond. Steve Sr. was essentially his son’s baseball coach during his formative years. Steve Sr. got teary-eyed after his son’s first major league hit. When Steve Jr. had the idea of collecting donations this winter for victims of Hurricane Sandy, his father pitched in and along with Jill, drove a truck filled with goods to New Jersey. Last week, Steve Jr. arrived at the open gym session, greeted his father with a hug and presented him with dinner from a fast-food restaurant.