The Ultimate Baseball Dad

Ken Davidoff

Editor’s Note: Our boys are teammates on the same little league team, so I know first-hand how people like to ask Ken Davidoff, a baseball columnist for the New York Post, about his job, with the hope that they’ll get some inside scoop. It’s also kind of nice to watch a little league game and have a pleasant, even-tempered parent around who really does know the rules. To kick off our new monthly sports newsletter for families, I thought it would be nice to include a Q&A with someone from the world of baseball whose special vantage (as a sports writer and a local dad) might offer insights into some of the really important issues of the game, like which is the best food concession and whether it’s more fun watching your child’s game, or a Yankee’s or Met’s game. Enjoy!  –Eric Messinger, Editor, New York Family, emessinger@manhattanmedia.com

I think it’s fair to say that many people would think that being a sports writer for the New York Post covering the Yankees is a dream job? Is it to you?

For sure, from the time I was 7 years old—when I knew that I was not a good baseball player but I might be an okay writer—this is what I wanted to do. Specifically, I wanted to be a Yankees beat writer. I’ve now moved beyond beat writing to columnizing. And the Post is an absolutely wonderful place to work. It embraces both hard work and fun.

I’m sure there are all sorts of pressures, like with any job with serious responsibilities and deadlines, but is there a part of you that is still exhilarated by getting to go to a ball park most working day and getting paid to watch a ball game?

No. I take my job very seriously and I have fun doing it, but I’m way past the “I can’t believe I get paid to do this!” phase.

What’s your favorite part of your job? And least favorite? 

My favorite part of the job is coming up with exclusive stories and information in the highly competitive media environment. My least favorite part of the job is the way that competitive media environment has changed to where there’s now a need to address every story “out there.” Back when I started, you could just ignore an inaccurate story. Now you have to spend time and energy shooting it down because it already has gained traction by the too many who accept everything they read, see, and hear as gospel.

Does your son think you have a cool job? Does he ask you about it? Is he a baseball fan or player? Does he like to talk baseball or sports with you?

You’d have to ask my son that question. We talk more about baseball in general—and all sports, really—than my job specifically. He is a big baseball fan—he loves the Mets—and he has played travel baseball for the better part of three years.

Do ever get to take him to a game? Or actually is that the one thing you can’t do, because it’s your job! Has your position allowed him the occasional fun perk?  

We’ll occasionally go to a game together when I’m off, but I can’t take him to work. Sometimes he and my wife will come to a game and stop by the press box, or I’ll go and see them in their seats. The one fun perk he has enjoyed is getting the insider’s view at our annual Baseball Writers Association of America/New York chapter dinner. We’ll go in the VIP room before the dinner begins and he’ll get to meet many of the honorees. He has been going for about seven years, and he has met all-time legends like Sandy Koufax and Cal Ripken Jr. as well as modern stars like Clayton Kershaw and Miguel Cabrera.

Being a sports reporter—between travel and night games—sounds rough on scheduling regular family time. How do you and your wife make it work? Do you have any family rules? Like on your days off do you make sure that family meal time is priority?

No family rules. We just do the best we can, and we have a full-time babysitter who is extremely helpful in making sure all of the trains run on time, so to speak.

Compare the experience of watching your son play baseball as a parent versus watching a professional game as a reporter. Do you feel his successes and failures in your bones, or do you have a kind of clinical detachment that extends over from doing this all of the time? 

There’s no clinical detachment when it comes to watching my son play baseball. I’m very into it.

Insider tip please: Who is your favorite food vendor at Yankee Stadium?

The insider tip is that I eat in the Yankee Stadium dining room for team officials and media, so I don’t really sample the vendors. I occasionally sample the vendors at Citi Field when I don’t care for what’s being served in the dining room (the Yankee Stadium dining room is consistently reliable). CitiField has many excellent vendors, including Shake Shack, Pat La Frieda’s, and Mama’s of Corona.

If you could take your son and sit anywhere in the ball park, where would it be? Is there a case for taking kids to the top bleachers?

No, there is no case for [the top of the bleachers]. It would be right behind home plate.

Many players come to the majors so young—do you feel like you watch a lot of the athletes kind of grow up? Do you feel like many of them have a lot of growing up to do? How well do you get to know them? 

I get to know them somewhat well. Obviously, some are more open than others to forming relationships with the media. Some are immature, some mature. Some really do change over time, others stay the same. It’s quite difficult to generalize.

Fun stuff: How are the best hitters and pitchers in major league baseball right now? Who some of the best managers?

Among the best hitters are Mike Trout of the Angels, Nolan Arenado of the Rockies, and Xander Bogaerts of the Red Sox. Among the best pitches are Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers, Jake Arrieta of the Cubs, and Noah Syndergaard of the Mets. Among the best managers are Bruce Bochy of the Giants, Joe Maddon of the Cubs, and Terry Francona of the Indians.

Have you had any discussions with you son about professions and careers and about pursuing one’s dreams? Is he aware of the extraordinary odds of someone growing up and becoming a professional athlete? Does he know that your pursued your dream? Has he declared his own professional dreams yet?

No, he hasn’t declared his own professional dreams yet. We’ve discussed them on occasion. He knows hard it is to become a professional athlete. He knows that I pursued my dream.

To read Ken’s columns, visit nypost.com/author/ken-davidoff!