Padres draft picks Homer Bush & Homer Bush Jr. reflect on Father’s Day

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Bush Family

Father’s Day is a special time when it comes to baseball. The bond between fathers and sons can be cemented around the beautiful sport that mirrors life. 

Homer Bush is a proud father. And he has every right to be.

In speaking to the elder Bush, he gushed about his 22-year-old son, Homer Bush Jr., who is currently a Padres prospect in Fort Wayne of the Midwest League.

Homer Bush Jr. is the Padres’ No. 8 prospect in the system and has really started to show life in the last few weeks of play. Fort Wayne is in Indiana, and that part of the county is traditionally cold to begin the minor league baseball season. Bush Jr. struggled with the climate like most hitters, but as the weather warmed up, so did the bat of this talented youngster.

The Padres drafted the outfielder from Grand Canyon University with a fourth-round pick last year. He signed immediately and made it all the way to Double-A, where Bush Jr. played in eight games for the San Antonio Missions. Bush Jr. is ultra-athletic and is currently second in the Midwest League with 29 stolen bases in 55 games.

The apple does not fall far from the tree as Homer Bush Sr. was a football stud while at East St. Louis High School. The former wide receiver, at one time, held the Illinois State High School football record for most touchdowns scored in a single season (22) and most receiving yards in a single season. He was also named to the All-Century team for Illinois High School Football. His football records are now shattered by the modern era of the sport, but his numbers were impressive for the time in which he played the game.

In 1991, the Padres selected Homer Bush with a 7th-round pick. He was a standout on the baseball diamond as well as the football field.

The elder Bush opted for a baseball career instead of attending the University of Missouri to play football. After a six-year grind in the minors (mostly with the Padres), he enjoyed a seven-year career at the major league level with the Yankees, Blue Jays, and Marlins. Homer Bush retired in 2004 as a career .285 hitter in over 1,200 at-bats in the majors and was an unheralded player.

(Circa 2014) Bush Family

The elder Bush cut his teeth with the Padres and learned the game of baseball from several former Padres.

Priscilla Oppenheimer, the San Diego Padres’ longtime Director of Minor League Operations and the first woman to hold that position in a baseball front office, was instrumental in Homer Bush Sr’s development. He spoke about her and the direction she provided him fresh out of high school. “She kept me out of trouble and focused on baseball,” Bush said with a laugh. “I was fresh out of high school and naive.”

The former Padres farmhand also spoke about Tim Flannery and Garry Templeton, who both assisted the infielder and guided him on and off the field as a teenager and young man. Both players were retired at this point in their long careers and working with the Padres’ minor leaguers. It takes several coaches to build a player and prepare him for the game at the highest level.

The elder Bush also mentioned former Padre Jerry Royster, his Double-A manager, as someone who really helped him develop. “He was a big influence on me,” Bush said.

Though Homer Bush Sr. never took one at-bat as a San Diego Padres player at the major league level, he holds a special place in the hearts of most Padres fans. He was taught and mentored by former Padres greats. He came back and coached for the team when he retired. And now, his son is a prized prospect within the system.

In speaking about Junior, Bush recalls a few memories of his son and a major league clubhouse when he was very young. “He was at family day with the Marlins. I also remember going back to Yankees Stadium after I retired, and he met with Derek Jeter and Yogi Berra. There were special times for sure,” Bush said proudly.

Homer Bush Jr. has photos, but sadly, he was too young to remember his dad’s playing days. “I was so young when my dad was playing. The most I have to go back to is pictures (which there are some pretty cool ones). Most of my memories come from his coaching and spending time in the clubhouse and on bus trips,” Homer Bush Junior tells EVT.

Homer Bush coached his son throughout his youth. The father and son shared so many experiences about the game they both loved. The family spent several Father’s Days at baseball tournaments and such for travel ball during the summer. “Getting the opportunity to play on Father’s Day with my dad being my coach growing up was awesome. Since Father’s Day is during summer, it would usually fall on bracket play days while playing travel ball, which was always cool,” Bush Jr. recalls fondly.

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The two men share a special bond that goes beyond their common name. If Junior has any questions, his dad is there to answer them. Having a former major leaguer as a dad is an advantage and one that Junior did not take lightly. “He was huge (in my development). I mention it a lot, but growing up, he helped me prepare a ton for the mental side, which to this day is a reason why I have been able to deal with the ups and downs better than the average baseball player,” Bush Jr explains.

“There’s information you’re able to give when you’ve been through it and lived it. That’s priceless information that the average parent just can’t provide. If anything, I’d say it’s been easier being raised by him because, for the most part, he understands it; I’ve heard from friends that their parents are harder on them than mine since they’ve done it,” Bush Jr. said.

Bush Family (circa 2014)

Junior is never too big for the game or its challenges, the elder Bush also talked about the low points in the game and how his son is prepared to get through those inevitable times. “He is prepared to handle the high points and, more importantly, the low points of the game,” Bush Senior tells EVT. The younger Bush is certainly prepared for the grind of professional baseball.

Homer Bush Jr. is a physical specimen. At 6-foot-2 and 200 lbs, there is a lot to like about his stature. but there is more to him. “The first thing that stands out about Junior is his athleticism, but it goes way beyond that,”  Bush Senior said. His father described his work ethic and studious tendencies as Peyton Manning-like. “He is always looking for a new angle and a way to improve.”

According to his dad, his desire to be better likely comes from his mom, Monica, who Homer Bush Sr. describes as relentless. In talking about his wife, the elder Bush gushed about his love, who is a valedictorian and an educated woman. Junior comes from a loving family and has lots of support, including his older sister, Jailyn, who is a psychology major and knows exactly how to motivate her little brother.

“Having my parents be along for my journey has been huge; I know not everyone has supportive parents, and especially not supportive parents who are as understanding of what you are going through, so to have both is a game changer, and it definitely adds normalcy to a lifestyle that is different from most,” Bush explains. With the mental side of the game secured, it certainly gives this young outfielder an advantage.

Several players and coaches continuously talk about Homer Bush Jr.’s work ethic. This is not an uncommon opinion, as Bush Jr. is relentless in the gym and with what he puts into his body. The elder Bush spoke about his son watching calories and being disciplined in getting the most out of his body.

‘I’d challenge any minor league to outwork him. He just works.”

He eats right and trains all the time. Junior is focused on his intake and getting stronger. But Bush Jr. is also grounded, as his dad states, “He still drives the car we bought for him,” Senior said with a laugh. Being humble shows great maturity in this young player. His focus remains on the team and being prepared each day.

Speed is very much a part of the Padres prospects game currently, but the thought is that power will develop in time with this outfielder. Homer Bush Jr. is blessed with excellent bat-to-ball skills and is a plus defender with the chance to be special on defense. There is a lot of upside here, and the feeling is that he is barely scratching his potential on the baseball diamond.

In learning more about him from his father, the senior Bush spoke about his aura. He talked about the fact that people gravitate toward him and that there is an inevitable special path ahead for Homer Bush Jr., a path that goes way beyond baseball. It was exciting to hear his enthusiasm when discussing his son’s future. It made me a Bush family supporter for life.

Homer Bush Jr. will be in Eastlake, Ohio, this Sunday, playing baseball against the Lake County Captain. His dad will be at a golf tournament in Texas. They will be apart physically, but you know their hearts are intertwined. Junior leaves us with this message for his dad.

“Happy Father’s Day, dad! Thanks for everything you’ve done for me and continue to do for me. This is just the beginning of the journey and I’m excited to take it head on with you by my side!”

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