Knack for sports forges Maile's bond with dad

Knack for sports forges Maile's bond with dad

TORONTO -- Blue Jays catcher Luke Maile grew up a multisport son of a multisport father. Whether it was painting lines on the track for a race between Luke and his friends, coaching or preparing the ballfield, Rich Maile was always finding a way to support his son.

"What I remember about he and I with baseball, he just always wanted me to have confidence," Luke said. "It wasn't so much about the mechanics side of things. It wasn't so much about position. It was just about having fun, being confident, swinging as hard as you can and not being afraid of anybody."

Maile's father played basketball and baseball before focusing on football at the University of Kentucky, where Luke eventually played his college baseball.

"He kind of jokes about himself now," Luke said, "how he probably picked his worst sport to be the one that he wanted to go after. Baseball probably would have been the one he had a little bit more of a chance to do. He enjoyed them all, he enjoyed competition and he definitely passed that on to me."

Being exposed to the same range of sports while growing up in Kentucky helped Luke develop in ways he wouldn't have as a single-sport athlete.

"I can't say enough about it," Luke said. "I think what it allowed me to do was just kind of stay relaxed. There was always an element of, 'OK, this is the season. Just go and be the best baseball player you can be for a few months, then go be the best basketball player or the best football player. I think that there's a lot of athleticism that I was able to accumulate because I played different sports."

Luke is the oldest of five, with two younger brothers and two younger sisters. Throughout the ups and downs of a pro baseball season -- and a pro career -- Rich has helped Luke to stay balanced.

"He's the type of guy who's always had a value system," Luke said, "and you knew what he expected out of you. All of my brothers and sisters would say the same thing. He's very even-keeled. You never want to get too excited, and you never get too down. It's something I was very fortunate to be raised upon."

A younger Luke didn't cause much trouble for his parents, he says now, but he quickly credits his father and mother, Laurie, for that.

"I was always kind of mature for my age," Luke said. "They treated me like a man, and they expected me to act like one. I definitely had some missteps along the way, but what kid doesn't? He and I had a relationship that was certainly father-son, but it turned into a friendship."

Keegan Matheson is a reporter for based in Toronto. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.