Zimmer appreciates dad's support, travels

Father of Tribe outfielder frequently flies to watch sons play

Zimmer appreciates dad's support, travels

CLEVELAND -- Eric Zimmer was among the family in the stands at Progressive Field for his son Bradley's big league debut for the Indians last month. That sounds normal enough, except when considering that the elder Zimmer traveled more than 4,500 miles in roughly 48 hours to make it happen.

Bradley Zimmer has grown used to his dad dropping everything to be there for his games, but the Indians' rookie center fielder does not take it for granted. As an anesthesiologist based in San Diego, Eric has a busy schedule, but he will barter with his coworkers to be there for his son.

"Where else would I rather be?" said Eric Zimmer, while watching batting practice during the Indians' series at Coors Field last week. "I have some understanding, helpful partners. I'll usually trade away a lot: 'If you can do me this favor, I owe you these three. I'll work your holiday, I'll work your weekend, if you can cover this day.' I was telling Bradley earlier, it's getting harder."

When Bradley -- the younger of Eric Zimmer's two sons (Kyle Zimmer is a pitcher in the Royals' organization) -- learned on May 15 that he was getting promoted to Cleveland, he immediately called his dad. Eric Zimmer had just returned home from Atlanta, where he was watching Bradley take on the Gwinnett Braves with Triple-A Columbus.

Eric Zimmer had already agreed to be on higher call at his practice for May 15-17, but it was time to make some deals again.

"He's shown up at a minute's notice numerous times," Bradley said. "I'm sure there's plenty of guys in the Major Leagues that maybe don't have that luxury -- maybe they lost their dad, or he hasn't been in their life. That's just life sometimes. I'm very fortunate to have him in my life. He's done so much for me."

For example, back in 2013, Zimmer was given a chance as a sophomore at University of San Francisco to compete for a spot on the Team USA Collegiate National Team. The roster already included Kyle Schwarber, Alex Bregman, Brandon Finnegan, Trea Turner, Michael Conforto and Carlos Rodon, among others. When the final roster was announced in late June, Zimmer had won a spot on the team.

A few days later, Team USA would be in Matsuyama, Japan.

"He was like, 'See you there,'" Bradley said. "At a minute's notice, my old man is on a 15-hour flight, and he's in Japan watching you play. It goes to show how much he cares, and how much he's done for me throughout my whole career and just my life."

Eric Zimmer played collegiate baseball at UC San Diego, and Kyle and Bradley's mom was a track star for San Diego State. The fact that their boys became professional athletes hardly seems a surprise. When they were young, Kyle and Bradley -- born 14 months apart -- competed in anything they could. Eric helped stoke the brotherly fire, while encouraging them to take part in multiple sports.

That background paved a path for Kyle Zimmer to be taken in the first round of the MLB Draft in 2012 by the Royals, and for Bradley to follow suit with the Indians in the first round in '14. Bradley reached the big leagues first, while his older brother is currently working his way back from injury.

Kyle and Bradley hope to eventually face off on the big league stage.

They know their dad will find a way to be there.

"It'll be surreal," Eric Zimmer said with a smile. "I'm going to be rooting for great pitches, and great swings."

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.