Major League Dad

Kansas City Royals pitcher Dillon Gee puts it all on the field — and it’s all for his family.

Heroes come in many forms. Police, doctors and soldiers present a vision of heroism founded on survival, where the struggle to preserve life and thwart death define the pinnacle of their vocation. Other heroes serve through example, with a heroism founded on the ideals they represent through their moral or physical fortitude, or the magnitude of their accomplishments.

Professional athletes inspire us with legendary work ethics, commitments to excellence, and the heroism of seemingly superhuman physical feats. We all watch and celebrate their exploits, whether on the baseball diamond or basketball court; what does it feel like, however, when the heroic athlete is your dad?

Dillon Gee’s two young children understand this situation better than most. Their father, the Fort Worth native and MLB pitcher, debuted in the majors in 2010 for the New York Mets. Currently with the Kansas City Royals, Dillon Gee’s career has encompassed broad success at the collegiate and professional levels. His proudest accomplishments, however, are those of a father.

“I was blessed with an unbelievable dad,” says Dillon. “I just want to teach my kids how to be good people and respect others. I had an excellent role model in that regard, who showed me that the biggest accomplishment is to raise a good person.”

Born in Cleburne, Dillon grew up with the example of his father, a fireman with the Fort Worth Fire Department. Dillon’s baseball career began when his first career start as a high school senior resulted in a no-hitter. A second no-hitter followed, and he ended the year as his team’s MVP, with first team all-district and all-state honors. College saw Dillon in attendance at the University of Texas at Arlington, where his efforts helped lift the Mavericks to the 2006 NCAA tournament.

Drafted by the New York Mets in 2007, Dillon began his professional career as a member of the Class-A Brooklyn Cyclones. A landmark season came in 2008, when Dillon received a promotion and went 2-0 with the Class-AA Binghamton Mets. Dillon’s Triple-A career began in 2009, and he battled through injury to accumulate a 13-8 record in 2010. This achievement served to punch Dillon’s card to the majors, and he made his debut with the New York Mets on September 7, 2010. His first start signaled great things to come: a no-hitter until the 6th, with only two hits and single run over seven innings.

“My profession is tough on my family, we move around a lot and there’s not a lot of stability,” says Dillon. “But I have a short window to take advantage of this opportunity to play Major League Baseball. I want to show my kids that not everything comes easy, and sacrifices can be made to make things better.”

Dillon’s career in the majors continued with the Mets in 2011, when he roared to the best start by a Mets rookie pitcher in franchise history. In 2012, Dillon overcame a slow start to pitch a pair of nine strikeout games. Dillon’s personal resolve and penchant for hard work saw him through another season-ending injury, and the 2013 season saw him rise through the ranks of Mets starters. He started opening day in 2014, and was also named a starter for the 2015 season. Dillon elected for free agency in 2015, and signed with the Kansas City Royals a couple months later.

Through the ups-and-downs of his career, which has involved multiple relocations as he moved between teams, Dillon has kept one thing central in his resolve: dedication to his family, and a commitment to make the most of his opportunities.

“Before I had kids, I overvalued my job. I took it home with me, and it weighed on me a lot,” says Dillon. “After having a kid, a bad game is no longer the end of the world. I come home to my beautiful children and wife, and that’s taught me the importance of what’s great in life.”

Primed for additional success, Dillon plans to make the most of his time with the Royals. Success as a major leaguer never comes easily; but Dillon has plenty of fuel for inspiration.

“I want my kids to say that dad worked extremely hard to provide for us, and I want to instill those values in them,” says Dillon. “Worthwhile things never come easily, and you have to put forth the time and effort.”