Wise looks to father as role model

Wise looks to father as role model

MILWAUKEE -- Brewers reliever Matt Wise is rarely short of words, but we stumped him in the week leading up to Father's Day.

"Favorite moment with my dad?" Wise said before a pause.

"Man, that's a tough one," he said. "My dad has been there for so many. All of them, ever since I started playing when I was 8 years old until I left for pro ball. He's just always been there, encouraging me to play but never forcing it. He's been my role model pretty much since I was born."

But there have been a few moments, like the day Larry Wise, a second-generation mechanic who at the time was volunteering as an assistant Baptist minister, was ejected from a game of grade schoolers for arguing with the umpire.

A better one came in the summer of 2000, when Matt Wise, then 24 years old and three years into his professional career, was summoned to the Major Leagues by a team known then as simply the Anaheim Angels. Wise, who grew up in La Verne, Calif., about 25 miles north of Angel Stadiuim, called dad right away.

"He couldn't believe it," Wise said. "I don't think he believed it until the day I showed up at the stadium."

Wise made two scoreless appearances in relief before his first start on Aug. 9, 2000, against the Red Sox at Angel Stadium. He limited the Sox to Nomar Garciaparra's third-inning, three-run home run in seven innings of a 4-2 Angels loss, and dad was there to watch.

Matt Wise actually grew up rooting, along with his father and grandfather, for the nearby Dodgers, and attended games at Dodger Stadium throughout his childhood. Another dream came true on May 31, 2004, when Wise, then 14 months removed from "Tommy John" surgery that threatened his career, made a spot start for the Brewers at Dodger Stadium and pitched five scoreless innings.

Wise said he talked to his dad at least twice a week during the season, "and he offers me a lot of advice about pitching," Wise said. "But during the offseason we talk about a lot of other stuff, like where we're going duck hunting next."

Larry Wise never pushed his son into playing baseball.

"I think we spent more time fishing when I was a kid than playing baseball," Matt said. "He was around baseball a lot, I think, just because he liked hanging out with his son."

Larry Wise owns his own shop and still lives with Matt's mom, Sue, in Southern California, where they catch up with Matt and wife, Amy, and two granddaughters, on the team's West Coast trips. Last winter, the Brewers rewarded Matt for two strong seasons with a two-year contract, and he responded with a 2.96 ERA through his first 20 games.

"He was just happy to know that I'll get to play baseball for a few more years," Matt Wise said of his dad. "Money is not the root of motivation in our family, never has been. That's how we were always raised."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.