Hudson's father is hurler's No. 1 fan
Braves righty honed his craft with his dad acting as a backstop
ATLANTA -- Many times, when Tim Hudson heads to a Major League bullpen to prepare for his next start, he thinks back to those times when his father, Ron, was one of the few people in the world willing to assume a catcher's squat with him on the mound.
"I remember as a kid I always wanted to pitch, and I never did because I was so wild," Hudson said. "I always remember telling my dad to get down as a catcher. He would. But I knew he didn't want to. I would bounce balls, handcuff him and beat him up. But he'd always do it. I think about it all the time. Those are obviously some of the best memories of my childhood."
Throughout Hudson's childhood in Phenix City, Ala., which is located near the Georgia border, he shared a passion for baseball with his father. There were numerous afternoons spent playing catch in the fields, and a number of evenings spent watching their beloved Braves.
"We lived in the country, so we'd always be out there in the field playing," Hudson said. "I'd be out there as long as he'd keep playing."
When Hudson was traded from the A's to the Braves before the start of the 2005 season, one of his first thoughts was the fact that his parents were going to have many more opportunities to see him, both on and off the playing field. The estimated two-hour drive from their home to Turner Field wasn't even going to be as long as the ones Ron had made during his son's youth.
Throughout his youth, Tim played for various travel or All-Star teams that made numerous stops across rural towns in Georgia and Alabama. More often than not, Ron would leave his construction job, often three hours away, in time to see his youngest son pitch.
Accompanying him were his two older sons, both of whom are at least 10 years older than Tim.
"I used to always think how crazy they were to drive two or three hours just to watch a Pony League All-Star Game, and then have to drive right back to work the next day," the Braves hurler said.
When Hudson made his Major League debut in San Diego on June 8, 1999, his parents weren't able to attend. But they were there 11 days later at old Tiger Stadium, where they saw their son limit Detroit to one run over seven innings and improve his big-league record to 2-0.
"That was pretty cool," Hudson said. "It was always a dream of mine to pitch in the big leagues. But I know it was just as much a dream and accomplishment from their standpoint."
Although they enjoyed watching the younger versions of Tom Glavine and John Smoltz on television together, Tim and his father never attended a Braves game in Atlanta together.
"It's funny. I've never been to a big-league game with my dad," Hudson said. "He's obviously come to see me play, and he's been to other games. But I've never actually had the chance to catch a game with him. That seems kind of odd. But when I was a kid, I was always busy playing during the summer, and he was always working."
Obviously over the past three years, Ron has had numerous chances to come to Atlanta to see his son display the craft that he honed as a wild youngster. He was there to celebrate with Tim after the Braves clinched their 14th consecutive National League East title in 2005.
But for Tim, that was to be expected. Whenever there was even an inkling of an opportunity, he knew during his youth that his father was going to be there for him to share in their love for baseball.
"My parents are definitely my biggest fans," Hudson said. "They have supported me more than I could have ever asked."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.