(Long Island, N.Y.) Talk about your unlikely post-Father’s Day presents. In the Bichette household, not only will Dante Sr. get to see his namesake son graduate Orangewood Christian High School this month, but also report to his first team as a professional baseball player.
Surely during his 14-year major league career, Bichette dreamt of the day when he would be able to see Dante Jr. suit up and carry on the family tradition and that has become a reality. The New York Yankees drafted Dante Jr. with their first pick (the 51st overall selection in Compensation Round A) and wasted no time getting the power hitting third baseman inked and off to their Gulf Coast League affiliate.
“We were excited to be able to draft Dante and even more excited to get him signed,” Yankees Vice President of Amateur Scouting Damon Oppenheimer said. “Coming to an agreement this quickly will allow Dante to get a full season under his belt in 2011, and gets him ahead of the curve in many ways.”
The right-handed hitter led his Maitland, Florida team in hitting with a .640 batting average and added 58 runs scored, 10 home runs, 14 doubles and 40 RBI in only 30 games during his senior year. Bichette was also named “All Central Florida Baseball Player of the Year” in each of the last two seasons.
Those types of numbers certainly make Dad proud and the four-time All-Star had his fair share of being the producer in the line-up. Bichette Sr. broke into the big leagues with the California Angels and also played with the Milwaukee Brewers, Cincinnati Reds and Boston Red Sox, but will always be remembered for his time with the Colorado Rockies.
Bichette played seven seasons in the Mile High State and was the heart and soul of a team that went from being a struggling expansion club into the postseason only two short seasons later. In 1995, Bichette slugged 40 home runs as Coors Field was christened and the Rockies qualified for the first playoff berth as the National League wild card entry.
The outfielder retired in March of 2002 with a career average of .299, 26 home runs and 108 RBI. Bichette attempted a comeback in 2004 with the Nashua Pride of the independent Atlantic League as a first baseman and pitcher. His arm may not have been what he hoped, but there was nothing wrong with his bat. Bichette won the Atlantic League Player of the Month Award that August with a .361 average and 13 home runs.
It has been a whirlwind since then for Bichette Jr. The following year, he participated in the Little League World Series and since entering high school, he has been named the team MVP and an Under Armour All-American.
Both father and son are over six foot tall and eclipse the 200-pound mark, important qualities for hitting the long ball. One has been able to parlay that into a successful run in the majors and now the baton has been passed.
It appears that every day is a proud Father’s Day for one Florida family.