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Cover Story -- Chips Off the Old Blocks
February 11, 2013VYPE MAGAZINE - Houston
Chips Off The Old Blocks
Cavan Biggio, Kacy Clemens and Josh Pettitte are Doing Their Fathers Proud
By Austin Staton
Baseball is America’s pastime, and with it, fathers and sons have shared a unique bond with their love of the game for countless generations.
Meet Cavan Biggio, Kacy Clemens and Josh Pettitte.
Their fathers were instrumental in the Houston Astros’ unprecedented postseason runs in 2004 and 2005, and are arguably some of baseball’s biggest names. These local standouts have learned how to play the game from watching their heroes — both at the ballpark and at home.
“I’ve been so blessed throughout my life,” says Josh, one of nine student-athletes to sign a national letter of intent with Baylor on Nov. 14. “It’s humbling and pretty cool to know that I can get advice from (my dad) whenever it’s needed.”
As a junior last season, the Deer Park standout posted a 4-0 record with a 0.89 ERA on 32 strikeouts and six walks in 23.0 innings of work last season.
Josh is a self-described pitcher, not a thrower. He boasts a four-pitch arsenal that features a fastball that sits in the upper 80s, a change in the upper 70s, a curve in the lower 70s, and his favorite outpitch, a cutter that sits in the mid-80s.
“He knows how to pitch,” says Andy, the 17-year MLB veteran. “He knows how to change speeds, he has good command and he’s a strike thrower that can hit the corners. When you’re a strike thrower and you can change speeds, you’re going to be successful.”
Despite having solid command of four pitches, Josh says that his velocity sat in the upper 70s until just recently and that hard work and select ball helped to improve his game.
“I’m not the hardest thrower out there but I feel like I know how to pitch, how to get outs, and how to change up counts with my pitch selection,” he says. “Velocity will help you to a certain point, but sooner or later you’re going to have to make pitches. In close counts you can’t always throw the fastball up and away and hope someone swings at it. You have to make a big pitch.”
If there is one thing we’ve learned from his father, it is that he can handle pressure situations as evident by his illustrious professional career and his record for most postseason wins in MLB history. According to the elder Pettitte, it seems that Josh is currently on the right track for success.
“It’s amazing how little Josh was when I played in Houston and how fast time goes by,” he says. “There is so much more to the game now and I think seeing the way that he handles situations, I think that it’s definitely given him a little bit of an advantage. I think it has almost been instilled in him.”
For Craig Biggio, his career was defined by his grit, hustle, and competitive spirit. His son Cavan is a chip off of the old block and is quickly proving to be a coveted prospect among the 30 MLB clubs. According to Perfect Game, Cavan is the top-ranked third base prospect in the country and he says he owes his success to growing up and watching his dad play.
“He would bring me to the ballpark when he could and we’d sit in the dugout and watch batting practice and just watch the pros throw,” says Cavan. “You learn a lot just watching these big league players and watching how they go about the game and I would just model my game after them.”
For Cavan, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound senior at St. Thomas, he is playing his final prep season under the direction of his father in hopes of clinching a third state championship in four years.
“He taught me how to throw and how to hit,” says Cavan, a Notre Dame signee. “I’m just really grateful for my dad, what he did, and what he was able to do for me as a player and a person. He’s shaped me to the person that I am.”
For Craig, he finds it just as rewarding to be able to share his passion for the game.
“It’s just a lot of fun to be around,” says Craig, who spent his entire 20-year baseball career with the Astros. “I’ve enjoyed coaching and I tell my guys, I’m a baseball rat. That’s what I know, and that’s what I love, and being able to be with Cavan for six years has been great.”
While the 2013 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft is just around the corner in June, Craig says that his son has been able to stay focused throughout the process and says that the hardest decision is already out of the way.
“He knows where he is going to go to college, and the rest is to just go out there and have fun and play the game,” he says. “Whatever is going to happen is going to happen, so don’t worry about the other stuff that is out of your control.”
The Strikeout Kings
Like father, like son. For Kacy and Roger Clemens, there is much more to baseball than a simple game of pitch and catch – it also comes down to having an understanding of how the game has evolved over time and how to adapt to those changes while staying in peak physical condition.
“It’s a year-round sport now and it takes dedication,” says Kacy, who will follow in his father’s footsteps and enroll at Texas next fall. “There is so much more technology about certain muscles and certain workouts that student-athletes can do to progress as a player that they didn’t have back in my dad’s day.”
“The game has changed in a good way,” furthers Roger, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner. “We can be a little more technical and give a little bit more information to a high school player now that we would have once reserved for a Class-A or Double-A player. Now you’re able to give the information to experienced high school student-athletes and they’re able to absorb, retain, and use what you tell them and put it to good use in their game.”
Both Kacy and Roger share numerous similarities on the mound: they both enjoy striking out opposing hitters, and they both like to challenge hitters with their fastball. Gor Kacy, his sits in the lower 90s as he anchors the Memorial pitching staff.
While the game has evolved from a technical perspective, it is that dedicated work ethic that set Roger apart throughout a career that spanned three decades. Now a senior, Kacy understands that importance because of their relationship.
“He’s just my dad and that’s how I’ve seen it growing up,” says Kacy. “Not until I was a double-digit age did I truly understand how special he was on the field. He is my eyes when I’m pitching and whenever I’m doing something that he thinks I should change he just lets me know.”
While the elder Clemens is five years removed from his last game with the Yankees, he’s enjoying spending time watching his sons grow up and sharing his passion for the game — and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I see Kacy’s group and watching them grow up, it can’t get much better than that,” he says. “I love it because my boys come home and talk about baseball. I don’t over coach or over teach. I just enjoy being a dad and watching. I like wiping the tears away, putting the Band-Aids on, and doing a little bit of videotaping. That’s my part.”