09/17/08 10:45 PM ET
Where are they now? Doug Drabek
Texas native, former Astros righty enjoying life as fan of kids
By Krysten Oliphant / MLB.com
The Victoria, Texas, native's smooth delivery even earned him a NL Cy Young Award in 1990 with Pittsburgh on the way to the National League East crown. He was 22-6 in 33 games with a 2.76 ERA that year.
These days, the hurler is still traveling, only the games involve his two sons and daughter.
Drabek's son Kyle, 20, was drafted by the Phillies in the first round (No. 18 overall) of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft. The right-hander is still recovering from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery he underwent in July 2007. Drabek said his son is working to regain his 97-mph fastball with the club's rookie Gulf Coast League team in Clearwater, Fla., and will soon move up to Class A Batavia.
Drabek's son Justin, 21, has been playing baseball in independent leagues, and Drabek said he tries to alternate travel to their games.
"Traveling, after a while, whether you're young or old, you get used to it and don't think about it much," Drabek said. "At times, at the end of the season -- especially when you weren't playing for anything -- it would get tiresome. But this kind of traveling is fun. It's fun hanging out with them, sitting in the stands and watching them."
Drabek also has his hands full with 16-year-old daughter Kelsey, who does cheerleading and dance in The Woodlands, Texas.
He travels for her cheer competitions and said there was not much disconnect in watching a different sport.
"It was probably easier because I knew all I could do was go and watch," Drabek said. "She was dancing and cheering. There was no way I could help her with that. With her, all I could do was show up."
Drabek retired from baseball following the 1998 season, wanting to focus on his children's activities before he grew too old.
The transition seemed to be an easy one.
"My last year, I lost what I needed to have to be successful," Drabek said. "I tried everything to get it back, and it just didn't work. I really stopped having fun. There was not one day up until the second half of the last year where I did not enjoy going to the field. But then things just fell apart. I tried everything."
ARI: Travis Lee | ATL: Mark Lemke
BAL: Chris Hoiles | BOS: Bill Lee
CHC: Randy Hundley | CIN: Eric Davis
CWS: Dan Pasqua | CLE: Dave Burba
COL: Curtis Leskanic | DET: Steve Sparks
FLA: Charlie Hough | HOU: Doug Drabek
KC: Mike Macfarlane | LAA: Rick Reichardt
LAD: Jim Gott | MIL: Don Sutton
MIN: Kevin Tapani | NYM: Ed Kranepool
NYY: Jim Abbott | OAK: Ben Grieve
PHI: Tommy Greene | PIT: Barry Jones
STL: B. Tewksbury | SD: C. Hernandez
SF: Brian Johnson | SEA: Henry Cotto
TB: Doug Creek | TEX: Dave Hostetler
TOR: Alex Gonzalez | WAS: W. Fryman
Drabek said he was constantly worried about his next outing and was forcing himself to take the mound.
His sons were on the same Little League team at the time, and an offer to coach their team made retiring a fairly easy decision at the time.
"Everybody has a limit," Drabek said. "It's just about how far do you want to push it. I thought, 'Maybe this is my limit.' I stopped, and I got to coach them in Little League. I got to be around; I didn't miss anything. I haven't regretted it; I've been lucky."
Drabek also coached his sons with the Houston Heat, a club team, and he said he would like to get into coaching again. He got to play pitching coach for Justin's independent team in Ohio for two weeks when they were down a coach.
"The turnover is not real good as far as baseball goes," Drabek said. "But I'm still talking to people, telling them I'm still interested. Baseball has been my whole life. I just enjoy being around kids, talking with them, trying to help them out through my experiences as much as possible."
Drabek has also hosted The Woodlands Celebrity Golf Classic to benefit youth services for the past 15 years, and he still likes to attend Astros games when he can.
"I really don't get to go that much," Drabek said. "When the boys were still at home, they almost played year-round with select ball and high-school ball and summer ball and all that. Now I go a little bit more. I love to be there more, but you've got other responsibilities and things to do once you stop playing."
Krysten Oliphant is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.