Kyle is with Seattle and Corey is with Los Angeles, but their great uncle is in Canandaigua with plenty of family history in Naples
If there are two things Gary Seager understands, they are family and loyalty.
But they don’t always go hand-in-hand.
“When the Mariners play the Yankees, I want Kyle to hit four home runs for Seattle, but I want the Yankees to win,” says the Canandaigua resident with a hint of humor rooted in truth.
Indeed, Gary Seager is true to his Yankees. But he’s also true to the Kyle he mentioned, because Kyle Seager isn’t just the third baseman for the Seattle Mariners, he’s his grand-nephew.
So what happens when the Mariners play the Los Angeles Dodgers? This answer requires some thought, because not only would Kyle be on the field for Seattle, but Kyle’s brother is Corey Seager, shortstop for the Dodgers who was the National League’s Rookie of the Year in 2016.
“Oh boy,” says Gary. “I’d just root for both boys to do well and whoever wins, wins.”
The Seager brothers have quite the following in their respective baseball towns, but the interest locally is quite keen as well. Gary Seager is a 1960 Naples High graduate and today lives at The Hammocks in Canandaigua. He coached Newark High boys basketball for years, preceding Ron Ceravolo until his retirement in the mid-1980s.
The former history teacher at Newark has been enjoying baseball more than usual lately, though. And he’s got plenty to follow as Kyle and Corey do their baseball thing.
They’re the grandsons of Gary’s late brother, Bart, who died in 2009. Bart graduated from Naples in 1950 and lived most of his adult life in the Poughkeepsie area. His son Jeff lived in Kannapolis, N.C., where he and his wife Jody raised three boys. And it was from there that Gary Seager watched his nephew’s sons grow in baseball, and life.
Kyle is the oldest of the three boys and was drafted by the Mariners in the third round of the 2009 draft. Corey, the youngest, was drafted by the Dodgers in the first round of the 2012 draft. The middle brother, Justin, was drafted by Seattle in the 12th round of the 2013 draft but didn’t play beyond Double-A.
Of course, Corey was on a national stage this past season with the Dodgers. A year after batting .308 with 26 home runs with 72 RBI to earn Rookie of the Year and All-Star honors, Seager and the Dodgers were on track to win the 2017 World Series.
He injured his back in the first round of the playoffs and missed the NLCS, but returned for the World Series, where the Dodgers lost an exciting seven-game series to the Houston Astros.
Of course, Gary watched with all the pride you’d think an uncle would have. And when he’s out and about in Naples or Canandaigua, he’s often greeted by friends who say they’re watching the Seager boys, and rooting for them.
It’s not difficult, admits Gary.
“Both of those boys, there’s no flamboyance,” says Gary. “No bat flips, none of that. They just run the bases the way Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams would do it. They’re just humble and talented players … I’m just so proud of the way they conduct themselves.”
When the Dodgers or Mariners visit New York, Cleveland, Detroit or Toronto, Gary often makes the trip. And it’s to the point for Corey that catching up at a stadium is done out of view because he’s so recognizable by fans.
Corey has been an All-Star and a Silver Slugger Award winner in both of his full Major League seasons, and Kyle won a Gold Glove in 2014 and has hit 25 or more home runs in four straight seasons. Kyle also has the distinction of being the first player in Major League history to hit a game-tying grand slam in an extra-inning game, when he did it against the White Sox in 2013.
Gary’s contact with his great-nephews is regular, and he said Corey was in Ontario County a couple of weeks ago for some deer hunting. And, sadly, to visit his great uncle Ed, Gary’s brother, who is in hospice. Another of Gary’s siblings, sister Nancy, still lives in Italy valley on the family farm. There also is extended family in Naples, so the connection is strong.
Today, Gary is 76 years old and already is eager for the 2018 season to begin. Corey and the Dodgers should be among the favorites to reach the World Series again. And Kyle and Mariners aren’t exactly out of the conversation either.
But any amount of time spent with Gary Seager tells you that the big numbers and the winning for his great-nephews certainly are great. The point of pride, however, is how Kyle and Corey carry themselves in the bright lights of baseball stardom.
That’s what makes an old sports hound beam and ithat pride, along with the big numbers of the Seager brothers, show no signs of fading anytime soon.
Chavez is sports editor at The Daily Messenger. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow me @MPN_bchavez