Eastin, Madison, Taryn and Ashton Ashby are like a lot of teenage athletes in that they turn to their parents for advice and support at times.
The difference is when the Ashby girls want advice from Dad about how to handle a competitive situation, they get to turn to a man who was a starting pitcher in a World Series game at Yankee Stadium and appeared in two Major League Baseball All-Star Games, including one at Fenway Park.
“There are times I’m sure I drive them crazy,” Andy Ashby said, “but I try to be under control.
“I love it. I love watching my kids dance. I love going to dance recitals. I love going to softball and basketball games and to track.”
Andy Ashby, 46, made stops with 15 teams, including five on the Major League level, in his professional career. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre stood out over Bend, Utica, Spartanburg, Batavia, Clearwater, Reading, Colorado Springs, Lake Elsinore and Portland (Ore.). San Diego left a more lasting impression than Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Colorado and Atlanta.
While playing for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons in Moosic, Ashby met his wife, the former Tracy Tigue. When he retired, Ashby made a home of the area he had played in early in the 1991 and 1992 seasons on the last step before debuting in, then settling into his career in the Majors. The family now resides in Jenkins Township in the Pittston Area School District, the school from which Tracy graduated.
San Diego, where Ashby had his greatest successes, became the family’s second home. Ashby worked 20 Padres broadcasts last summer as a studio analyst for Fox Sports San Diego and is doing eight more this summer.
Eastin, Madison, Taryn and Ashton are responsible, however, for the bulk of the time Andy spends watching and analyzing sports these days. Their multiple sports interests, including occasionally as opponents or on teams playing in different places on the same nights, make it challenging, but Andy and Tracy are there cheering on their daughters at the vast majority of their events and performances.
“We stay busy,” Andy said. “It’s awesome to go to see my kids play sports and see what their make-up is all about on the court or the softball field.
“I love to watch that competitiveness come out of them.”
Andy was traded three times in his professional life.
As he gathers with his family for their usual barbecue on Father’s Day today, it is clear that Andy’s career has afforded him a different type of trade in his personal life.
In their youngest years, the Ashby girls were often separated, for stretches of several days at a time, from their father as he hopped around the country as a pitcher.
“Even when he wasn’t there, we always talked on the phone every day,” Taryn said.
Now, nearly a decade removed from his playing career, Andy does an occasional public appearance for events such as charity golf tournaments, along with his television work. The rest of his time, however, is flexible to fit the demands of four very active schedules.
“The majority of the time I’m just being Dad,” Andy said. “I do some charity work. I hunt a lot. I fish.
“When I’m home, I’m running with my kids watching them do sports. I’m just kind of being Dad, making up for the time that I missed when I was playing.”
Andy has a good partner to turn to when trying to work with those schedules.
During times when Andy’s career meant he could not be in the same city as his wife and little girls, Tracy showed the determination and ambition to make sure the family shared as much time as possible. Tracy would pack up the girls and hit the road to catch one stop of extended road trips, breaking up the time the family was apart.
“Thank God for my wife,” Andy said. “Tracy was really good about flying the girls into a city. We weren’t apart a lot.
“When school started it was tougher, but if the girls got to a week and half where they hadn’t seen Dad, that was a lot. She’d fly them in to be with Dad, then the team would go on to another city and she’d take them back to San Diego.”
Those challenges have, for the most part, been left behind.
While Andy teaches his girls about sports, they teach him as well.
When he was their age — the girls range from ages 18 to 14 — Andy gave up interest in other sports for his singular pursuit of going as far with baseball as he could.
That devotion paid off.
In an era when there is often more pressure on young athletes to specialize, the Ashby girls have kept their interests varied.
They each compete in multiple sports and Andy is a bit surprised that softball did not make it to the forefront of the family sporting interests.
“It’s neat to see them going in their own separate ways,” he said.
Eastin, 18, graduated Friday from Pittston Area where she thrived in basketball and as a distance runner in cross country and track after transferring from Scranton Prep between her sophomore and junior years. Last month, she helped the Patriots win the District 2 Class AAA track and field title.
Andy said Eastin is up in the air on finalizing her college plans, including on whether to go away or stay close to home. While choosing a school, she is considering either playing basketball or running in college.
Madison, 17, has one more year left at Scranton Prep where she plays basketball and is a high jumper in track and field season. She was a prominent member of Classics team that won a District 2 title on the way to the Class AAA state quarterfinals in basketball.
“He gives us little confidence boosters we can use,” Madison said. “He understands the pressure we could have on us in a game when we’re not sure what could happen.
“He always brings us back. He tells us to go in there calm, cool and collected.”
Taryn, 15, joined Eastin in the starting lineup as a freshman. That meant instead of two Ashby sisters going against each other when Scranton Prep and Pittston Area played in the District 2 basketball semifinals in 2013, there were three for the rematch this year.
Taryn was a four-sport athlete in her first year at Pittston Area. After playing on strong soccer and basketball teams in the fall and winter, she played softball and threw the javelin for the track team this spring.
Ashton, 14, just graduated from Holy Rosary. While Eastin is choosing a college, Ashton is deciding on whether to follow Taryn to Pittston Area or Madison on the private school path.
In high school, Ashton will probably keep running cross country while considering basketball along with her commitment to dance. She studies tap, jazz and ballet at the Romar Dance Studio in Old Forge.
The success they have all found has put the four sisters in “big” games at their current levels. Andy can provide some perspective during those times.
“This season in basketball, we had a big game coming up and I was really nervous for it,” Taryn said. “Dad came up to me before the game and said, ‘let’s talk about this’.”
While he thinks he can counsel his girls on how to deal with the stress before an important contest, Andy said he does not believe a big part of their success can be taught.
“You can’t teach that will to at all costs say ‘I’m going to go out and do everything I can to win or help my team win’,” Andy said. “My girls have that. I think that’s something that’s in you.
“It might be a little bit to do with what I did as my job, but I see kids out there whose Dad wasn’t a Major League Baseball player who have it, too.”
Andy completes another of life’s trades when the family travels to San Diego and sporting events in other cities. The girls, who sometimes had to wait for Dad to come home from a road trip, get the advantages of some behind-the-scenes access that their father can provide.
“Their father’s normal, but it’s still kind of cool that ‘my dad was playing in the big leagues’,” said Ashby, who pitched in the 1998 and 1999 All-Star Games. “They still get to do things. They get to go on the field in San Diego.”
Sharing similar access with his own father was one of the big payoffs for Andy when he got the call up from Lackawanna County Stadium to join the Philadelphia Phillies.
“My father was always there. Growing up I remember playing catch with my Dad,” said Andy, a Kansas City native whose father, Glendon, passed away two years ago. “The biggest thing for me was once I went to the big leagues, being able to bring my father into the clubhouse, seeing the expression on his face, knowing his son had achieved his goal and dream of being a Major League Baseball player.”
On this Father’s Day, Andy remembers the times he shared in sports with his own Dad, and appreciates having the time to do the same with his girls.
“It’s special,” Andy said. “I thank God every day for the upbringing I had and hopefully I can be a good parent to my kids.”