By Pat Maurer
The Verlanders, now retired from the corporate world, have co-authored a book, Rocks Across The Pond, about their philosophy of life and raising their two sons, Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander and Minor League Outfielder Benjamin Verlander.
“We started with speaking engagements and that led to writing the book about raising our sons and what we learned as parents along the way,” Richard Verlander said in a telephone interview Wednesday. “This is a message for parents and kids,” he added. “Our first love is speaking, but we also attend craft shows – we love those craft shows.”
Justin, 30, is a pitcher with the Major League Detroit Tigers team. He was drafted by the Tigers in the first round (second pick) of the 2004 amateur draft and signed with them in October of 2004, making his debut on the 4th of July 2005.
Justin, who David Waldstein of the New York Times called “one of the best pitchers of his generation,” has earned an impressive list of accolades including: in 2006 Tigers Rookie of the Year from the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association; American League Rookie of the Month, American League Player of the Week twice, American League Rookie of the Month and American League Rookie of the Year. He was also 15th in the 2006 American League MVP voting; He was seventh in the 2006 American League Cy Young award voting, fifth in the 2007 American League Cy Young Award voting, third in the American League Cy Young Award voting in 2009; was named an American League Pitcher of the Month in May 2009, and was named to 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 American League All-Star Teams.
Justin is the only pitcher in baseball history to win Rookie of the Year, start in a World Series game, throw a no-hitter and be an All-Star in his first two full seasons. Named Tiger of the Year in 2009, he was the first Major League starter since Mike Moore in 1985 to load the bases with nobody out in the ninth inning or later and get out of it without allowing a run in a July 24, 2009 game.
He is one of only two players to win the Rookie of the Year Award, Cy Young Award and the MVP Award. Justin won the American League pitching Triple Crown, the Al Cy Young Award by unanimous choice and the American League MVP, all in 2011. He was also the Major League Baseball 2012 cover athlete.
Now the Tigers have two Verlanders. Justin’s younger brother, Benjamin Verlander, 21, a junior outfielder and right-handed hitter out of Justin’s alma mater, Old Dominion, was recently drafted into the Tiger’s organization as a Minor League outfielder. He was selected in the 14th round of the MLB Amateur Draft with the 426th overall selection.
Earning first team all-Colonial Athletic Association honors, Ben hit .367/.429/.638 with 11 home runs and 37 RBIs in 53 games. A pitcher with Old Dominion University, he also led Old Dominion as a hitter with a team-high 46 runs, 13 stolen bases and 20 multiple hit games, winning the Ralph Guzzo Award as team MVP.
About their book the senior Verlanders say, “[This is our] Perspectives on the journey of a Baseball Parent – From Little League, to the World Series, and everything in-between. From the start in 1989 as parents of then 6 year old Justin Verlander and later his younger brother Ben, and with little background or experience in any type of organized sports ourselves, we had no idea about the turn our lives were about to take when a neighbor from across the street suggested that our son Justin should sign up for Little League Baseball. In our wildest dreams we never would have imagined that 20 years later we would be receiving the Little League Parents Of The Year Award in Willamsport, Pa. This is an honor bestowed annually on the parents of major league stars that played Little League Baseball.”
The book information continued, “After more than two decades spent raising two sons who have experienced great success both on and off the field, the term Baseball is Life has become much more than a cliché for the Verlander family. We have been touched by many life changing events that we were fortunate to experience, but often unprepared to handle. Looking back we were often blessed to be surrounded by many people who helped us by providing valuable insight in making decisions and dealing with situations that enabled us to put our boys in the best possible atmosphere to grow and develop their potential; both as athletes and young men. Other times we were just lucky. It wasn’t always clear, that’s for sure. This book was written in hopes that other parents raising young athletes can gain something from our experience and look back as we have, knowing that Baseball is a great metaphor for life and that lessons learned last a lifetime.”
Meet the Verlanders at the Herrick House on November 8 from 4 to 7 p.m. The Verlanders’ book Rocks Across The Pond is available at Barnes and Noble, Amazon and on the internet or by emailing them at email@example.com.