Josh Tomlin has won both of his postseason starts over the Red Sox and Blue Jays, posting a 2.53 ERA. Friday night, however, he faces the biggest start of his career against the Cubs in Game 3 of the World Series.
The right-handed pitcher has a chance to lead the Cleveland Indians to a 2-1 series edge in the best-of-seven World Series.
Making Friday’s game even more important is that Tomlin’s father will be in the stands, despite facing extremely tough medical challenges over the past several weeks.
Here’s more about Tomlin’s father, Jerry and the special relationship they share.
1. Tomlin’s Partially Paralyzed Father Will be in Attendance for Game 3
Jerry, 57, has always held a special role in his son’s life. Similar to many aspiring baseball players and their dads, the two would act out Tomlin pitching in the World Series when he was a young child.
It will be a dream come true for Jerry to watch his son pitch in the real deal on Friday night. And as Tomlin told Cleveland.com, “it will mean everything” to him.
Especially considering how difficult the past few months have been for the Tomlin family. In August, Tomlin received the news that his father was paralyzed from the waist down due to a rare medical condition that affected his spinal cord.
Jerry was working at a power plant in Whitehouse, Texas, in August when he felt a burning sensation in his stomach. Ultimately, that feeling vanished. So, too, did every feeling from his chest down to his toes.
Tomlin received word that his father had fallen ill, and it took some time for doctors to determine that Jerry suffered an arteriovenous malformation, a tangle of blood vessels on his spinal cord, which required surgery.
2. Tomlin Was One of the First People to Greet His Dad Following Surgery
Following the news of Jerry’s condition, the Indians placed Tomlin on the family medical emergency list, and arranged for a private jet to take Tomlin to his hometown, according to Cleveland.com. As Meisel reported, Tomlin was one of the first people to greet his father after his procedure.
Doctors haven’t been able to determine whether Jerry will ever be able to walk again, but Tomlin has faith in his dad’s ability to handle the adversity.
“I don’t think what has happened to him right now will faze him one bit,” Tomlin told Cleveland.com.
3. Tomlin & His Dad Frequently Talk About Baseball
Tomlin and Jerry frequently talk, and like many father-son relationships, many of their conversations revolve around sports.
Tomlin shared some of the advice his father gave to him earlier this week.
“We talk baseball quite a bit,” Tomlin told a group of reporters. “I’ll text or call and say, ‘Hey- what are you seeing? What am I doing wrong?’ ”
His dad’s advice is often simple: get back to the basics of competing.
Tomlin said his dad told him, “Try to be a bulldog, don’t try to be somebody that you’re not. Do what you’re capable of doing, it’s good enough or you wouldn’t be in the situation you’re in.”
He said his dad has always been a positive influence in his life.
“He texts me before every game to keep the ball down,” Tomlin said, according to the New York Post. “He understands I have a little bit of a home-run problem.”
Tomlin allowed the third-most home runs in MLB during the regular season.
4. Tomlin Has Called His Dad’s Illness One of the ‘Most Difficult Situations’
Tomlin admitted his father’s condition has been extremely tough on him, although he’s tried to not let it affect his performance on the field.
“This has been one of the most difficult situations in my life, no doubt about it, but I’m employed by the Cleveland Indians to go out there and pitch. When I step between the lines, my job is to go out there and perform.”
Tomlin credits both of his parents for helping him realize the importance of a strong work ethic from a young age.
“My mom and my dad have instilled a positive attitude in me my entire life, they are both very positive people, they are hard-working people, they’ve tried to earn everything they got. When this happened it wasn’t, ‘Woe is me.’ It was, ‘This is the hand I was dealt. I have to deal with it.’ ”
5. Jerry Was Released From the Hospital Last Wednesday
Tomlin’s father was released from the hospital last Wednesday, the same night the Indians beat the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League Championship Series.
Jerry watched his son pitch from the hospital during the AL Division Series and ALCS.
“It’s neat because he’s always talked about Wrigley Field and Fenway Park, two historical ballparks, being the ones he wants to go see,” Tomlin told MLB.com. “As a Father’s Day gift, we let my father-in-law and him decide what game they wanted to see, and he was supposed to come to a game in Chicago (at U.S. Cellular Field). But because of the incident, he wasn’t able to enjoy that gift. So it’s nice to be able to share this with him.”
His father will not only witness Tomlin’s first start in a World Series game, but also his first time pitching at Wrigley Field. Something that will be an unforgettable moment for both, father and son.
“That’s going to be something else,” Tomlin said. “I’ve never actually pitched in Wrigley Field, but we played there last year, so I’ve gotten to experience a game there. But I take it this will be a little bit different atmosphere than it was that day.”