How Jose Altuve’s Dad Built the Hardest-Working Man in Baseball
A chat with Altuve about the man to whom he owes his success — both on the field and off of it
Listed at 5’6″ and 165 pounds, Jose Altuve is not a large man. But,as even casual baseball fans know, the 2017 AL MVP is a big-time player.
One of the reasons Altuve — who has led the American League in steals twice, batting average three times and hits four times — is able to out-hit his competition during games is because he’s willing to outwork them beforehand.
Altuve’s quick, compact swing did not come by accident, but from hard work and long hours in the batting cage. And that work ethic? It came from his father Carlos.
“He taught me how to play, how to throw a ball, how to catch a ball,” Altuve said while speaking with InsideHook on behalf of New Era ahead of the cap company’s release of its 2019 MLB Father’s Day Collection. “But the biggest thing I remember him saying is that the first thing I need to learn is how to play the game hard.”
Those lessons would happen every day when the two hit and played catch — sometimes with no gloves.
“I have a lot of memories of my dad and I walking to the baseball field close to our house,” Altuve says. “Every single day after he came back from work we just started hitting balls. Those are really good memories.”
Later, Altuve’s dad was the person who convinced him to return to a tryout with the Houston Astros at the age of 16 after team scouts originally didn’t let him participate because they thought he was too short and lying about his age. The Astros are certainly glad Altuve listened to his old man.
“He’s the kind of guy that always believed in me and thought I could make it to the big leagues,” the 29-year-old says. “He used to tell me how to treat work and how to treat everybody and to work hard every single day, no matter what. We can be up by 10 or down by 10, but we have to keep playing hard.”
When the Astros were knocked out of the playoffs last season in the ALCS after winning the World Series the previous year, Carlos was there with words of encouragement.
“He was happy that we left everything we had on the field and that we played hard,” Altuve says. “He said, ‘Sometimes the play goes your way, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose but you gotta keep doing it. Next year will be the year you win it again.'”
That mindset has stayed with Altuve this season.
“Every year is different, and you know sometimes not always the best team is gonna win it all,” Altuve says. “This year, in particular, is going to be a challenging one for us. We won two years ago and then last year we lose. [This year] it’s just kinda like revenge, we wanna go and make it happen again. Now that we’re playing really good, we have to keep doing what we’re doing. I feel like I learned from when we lost and from now that we’re winning a lot.”
“The biggest thing I remember him saying is that the first thing I need to learn is how to play the game hard.”Jose Altuve on what he learned from his father Carlos
Now a father with a child of his own, Altuve also gets parenting tips from his dad.
“He keeps giving me advice every day, with my wife, with my daughter, with problems we have on a day to day basis,” Altuve says. “I think he’s teaching me how to react, you know how to overcome negativity. He helped me when I was a kid and now that I have a family and a daughter, he keeps telling me I’m gonna appreciate what I got from him because he made my life a whole lot easier.”
The six-time All-Star, who is currently injured but is nearing a rehab assignment and a return to the field, plans call his dad on Sunday for Father’s Day.
“I’m gonna call him and just tell him what I always tell him: ‘Thank you for being a great dad and thank you for helping me to be a better baseball player, for helping me and teaching me how to be a dad and be part of a family.'”