For Hobson, Durham, baseball's in their blood

BOB ELLIOTT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:16 PM ET

LANSING, MICH. - He’s asked the question all the time:

“You any relation to Ray Durham?” Lance (Little Bull) Durham explains in the first base dugout of the Cooley Law School Stadium Tuesday afternoon.

“I usually say no, it’s too long to explain, but Ray is my father’s second cousin,” says Durham, whose father Leon (Bull) Durham played 10 years in the majors, mostly with the Chicago Cubs, and was a two-time, all-star. “Kids from my generation know Ray Durham, Ken Griffey ... and Michael Jordan.”

K.C. Hobson, 20, has walked the same path Durham has, as the son of a major leaguer. Just as Jose Cruz, Ed Sprague, Jr., Robbie Alomar, Todd Stottlemyre and others found their way to the majors wearing a Toronto uniform, Hobson’s father, Butch Hobson, played eight years in the majors and managed the Boston Red Sox for three seasons.

Now, the two are wearing Lansing Lugnuts uniforms in the class-A Midwest League, either four steps or four years away from the majors depending upon how you look at it. Lansing was the bottom rung of the Jays system before class-A Vancouver, rookie-class Bluefield, the rookie-class Gulf Coast League and the rookie-class Dominican Summer League began play last summer.

Lansing isn’t all minor league, as the Lugnuts drew 11,423 on Monday, the glorious 4th of July. The Jays drew 11,785 to the Rogers Centre May 9. Lansing averages 4,647 fans per night.

These sons of big leaguers are asked if their lineage been an asset or a hindrance?

“I talk to my father maybe a couple of times a week, I’d say it’s an advantage,” Hobson says. “He’s more than a help than anything else.

“Especially with the mental side. You can’t dwell on your last at-bat. You get frustrated first time up, sticks with you the whole game.”

Butch is managing the Lancaster Barnstormers in the independent Atlantic League. Clell Lavern (Butch) Hobson has not seen Kristopher Clell (K.C.) Hobson play since turning pro.

Hobson says his mother, Krystine, accompanied Butch when the Red Sox visited Toronto.

“My mom raves about Toronto, I was there too — as a three-year-old, don’t really remember much,” said Hobson, who then gives a standard minor-league reply. “When you play here, you play for all 30 teams.”

There were 18 scouts at Tuesday’s game against the Lake County Cougars, including Jays’ Jim Beattie.

Durham said he’d get looks and comments from teammates as a 13-year-old. “Like ‘why aren’t you way better than everyone else, your father played in the majors?’

“He coached us in fall ball, so he was around even more,” said Durham who phones home to Cincinnati every night to speak to his major-league dad. “My father was a first-rounder, I went in the 14th,” Durham said. “He told me I had to out-work everyone for playing time. That’s the case this year with all the outfielders we have.”

Manager Mike Redmond has four talented outfielders in Jake Marisnick, Michael Crouse from Coquitlan, B.C., North York’s Marcus Knecht and Markus Brisker, currently on the disabled list. Three outfielders play and the fourth is the DH.

“You are only as good as your last at-bat,” Durham said. “I’ll phone home, after having three hits first three time up, strike out the final time on three pitches. We’ll go over that at-bat and then my father will say ‘OK, you had a good game, turn the page.’”

Little Bull, who looks like a fullback at 5-foot-11, 210 pounds (“I was a quarterback, in high school they wanted me at middle linebacker, I thought baseball would be a longer career.”) has seen the Bull.

Durham has highlights of his 1984 Cubs season which the son has watched, saying “man he hit some long home runs to right against the Montreal Expos and I like the one of him stealing home."

Bull Durham stole 28 bases in 1982.

From Bull to Little Bull.

From ex-manager Butch to son K.C.

Lessons are passed on down the line.

“My goal for this year is to get better,” Hobson said. “If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse.”


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