Hudsons share the baseball dream

Hudsons share the baseball dream

PHOENIX -- Marcus Hudson always has a word of advice for his son, D-backs second baseman Orlando Hudson.

The topic often revolves around baseball.

That's the way it has always been, ever since a young Hudson followed his dad around a South Carolina bush league, and when Orlando had to choose between jumping to professional baseball or playing college football at a prestigious school like Florida or Oklahoma (as a quarterback), and now as a pro ballplayer, when, in their daily talks after games, he asks how he looked at the plate.

"We're close," Marcus Hudson said. "We're like two bros."

When Orlando is asked what he has learned from his father, Marcus' advice rolls off his fast-talking son's tongue like rapid fire, life lessons that he carries with him to this day. It's no secret why Orlando has become a hard-nosed ballplayer who never likes to take a day off.

"You can play hurt, but you can't play injured," Hudson recalled his father telling him. "'Play hard and give it all you've got every day. Always keep your head up, keep trying hard. Always play the game the right way, respect the game. Play the game the way you know how. Don't try to do more than you're capable of doing."

Those lessons started on the bush-league fields in Orlando's childhood home, Darlington, S.C., where the senior Hudson still resides and plays.

Marcus took Orlando to his games and practices from the time his son was a toddler, which Marcus said gave Orlando an edge over kids his own age. As Orlando grew up, he emulated the swings of his dad and his teammates, and asked his father questions about tendencies involved with swinging the bat. They even played together on the same team once, a teenage Orlando at shortstop, Marcus at first base.

One day, Orlando told his father that he wanted to be a big-league player on TV. The future Gold Glover was just 5 years old at the time.

When Orlando informed his father he wanted to be a famous athlete, like Michael Jordan, Marcus advised his son just to be himself.

"Be like Orlando, be like yourself, that's the best thing anybody can be," Marcus recalled telling his son. "You can't be like nobody else. Be all you can be, but be yourself. Be Orlando."

Orlando remembers his father taking that advice a step further, reminding him that he is no better than anybody else just because he's living his childhood dream, and thus he should treat everybody the same way.

"You stay the same down-to-earth, normal person that you are, remember that, and respect goes a long way," Orlando recalls.

That should make it no surprise that the younger Hudson stays involved with charity work, often visiting sick children, sometimes with his father.

He has one more important reason not to take what he has for granted.

Back when Marcus attended high school in Darlington, he longed to play high school baseball. But as a black man living in the South in the 1970s, he attended a school that dealt with the ugly aftermath of desegregation.

On multiple occasions, Marcus tried out for the team, but as the only black man in tryouts, he never cracked the squad.

Marcus never had a chance to showcase his skills and make a run at a professional career. He has gotten no closer than playing against former Minor Leaguers in the bush leagues.

His son, meanwhile, hits third for a club caught in a pennant chase. "He is living my dream," Marcus said.

Michael Schwartz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.