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Butera’s dad prepared him for The Show

June 13, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS — Twins catcher Drew Butera has been around baseball all his life, and he has his father, Sal, to thank for that.

When the younger Butera was born on Aug. 9, 1983, his father was in the middle of his only year with the Tigers, spending most of the season at Triple-A Evansville.

On April 9, 2010, when Drew made his Major League debut nearly 30 years to the day after Sal’s debut, the Buteras became the first father-son combo in Twins history.

“It’s pretty special,” Drew said. “I guess we’ll be forever a trivia question. It’s pretty cool. I’m glad I could follow in his footsteps, and I’ll hopefully have a long career.”

Drew is in just the second season of his career, but if he follows a similar path to his father, he could have eight or more years left ahead of him. Sal made his big league debut with the Twins on April 10, 1980, spending three seasons in Minnesota before going to Detroit.

Sal then spent a year with the Tigers organization and two with the Expos. After spending the 1986 campaign in Cincinnati, the Reds released Sal during the 1987 season, and he quickly re-signed with the Twins, becoming a member of the ’87 World Series champions.

His career certainly had an impact on his son, but he didn’t force baseball on Drew.

“He kind of let me choose my own path,” Drew said. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. He never really forced it on me. He was always there for me whenever I wanted to work on things or just go out and play catch. Same thing with my mom, but I think just being around him and being around his profession really made me want to become a professional baseball player and follow that path.”

Drew said his mother was a “stickler” for bedtimes and strict schedules, but he would spend time in the clubhouse with Sal whenever he could.

It was during those times that he really got to see what life in the Major Leagues — and Minor Leagues — was all about.

“Probably some of the best memories I had were when he was coaching in Toronto,” Butera said. “I’d wake up in the morning, do my school work for summer school and walk to the ballpark with him around 11 or 12 every time he went. He would hit me ground balls, throw me BP and I’d get to watch guys like Jose Canseco, Shannon Stewart, Roger Clemens, all those guys go to work. So for me, that was probably the best time I had, and probably the most influential time.”

Drew tries to make sure he calls both his mother and father every day. And when he talks to Sal, it’s not necessarily about baseball.

In fact, Drew said that though his father has given him plenty of advice, it only comes when he asks Sal for it.

“He’s made it really special for me, to be able to communicate about any situation because he’s been through it,” Drew said. “Whether it’s going 0-for-25 or getting four hits, he’s been there and done it, and he’s always had some congratulatory words or inspirational words.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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