Phillies slugger Darick Hall salutes the superheroes in his life

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Phillies slugger Darick Hall salutes the superheroes in his life originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Love arrives in different ways.

For Bo Hall, it came in a five-word text message from his grandson on the night of June 28.

Pop, we finally made it!

The author of that text was Darick Hall, who for the past couple of weeks has manned the Phillies' designated hitter position quite nicely.

Darick will turn 27 next week. He spent seven years in the Phillies system before finally getting a shot when Bryce Harper went down with a broken left thumb.

When Darick Hall got the word he was headed to Philadelphia, all he could think about was sharing the news with his family back in Sierra Vista, a southeast Arizona town near the Mexican border.

He called his wife, Ashley. His mom, Lynette. His uncles, Shane and Ladd.

And, of course, his grandparents, Bo and Joyce.

"All of them," Darick said. "If I didn't have their love and guidance ..."

His voice trailed off, but it was clear what he was trying to say. Without his family's support, he's not in the big leagues right now, living out his life's dream.

Darick continued, "I love them and want to make it clear how important they were and still are in my life."

And with that, he told his story.

Lynette -- Bo and Joyce's oldest child -- was a single mom, just 18 when Darick arrived in the summer of 1995. His dad was not in the picture. Lynette balanced her education -- she received a psychology degree from the University of Arizona -- with raising Darick. She had lots of help.

Bo is an Arizona baseball legend. He played pro ball in Mexico, spent some time in the San Francisco Giants system and later went on to scout for the Chicago Cubs and Florida Marlins. He made his name coaching at Eastern Arizona College and Cochise College, where the field bears his name. He is a member of the NJCAA Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame.

Six-year-old Darick with granddad Bo

Bo passed his love of baseball (and hunting and fishing) down to his two sons, Shane and Ladd. Both played at Eastern Arizona. Shane pitched in the Boston Red Sox system. Ladd was drafted three times but never signed because he hurt his arm.

As teens, Shane and Ladd never looked at Darick as the pain-in-neck little nephew.

"I love baseball, hunting and fishing," Darick said. "It all started with them because they didn't just leave me at home playing video games. I caught my first bass with Ladd when I was four."

(By the way, Darick is still catching bass. He has made over $10,000 on the Patagonia Elite Series pro bass fishing circuit in Arizona.)

When Shane or Ladd had a game at Eastern Arizona, Bo and Darick would drive over. Bo would back his truck up tight by the fence and watch the game from a lawn chair in the truck bed. But he'd often end up watching only half the game.

"Hey, Pop, can we go hit in the cage?" young Darick would ask.

Pop was always there to pitch BP.

"Darick and I spent a lot of time on the road together, in batting cages, travel teams," Bo Hall said in a recent telephone conversation. "It was easy to do because he's always been a great kid. He's had an impeccable work ethic since he was a little kid.

"He always wanted to hit. And when it got dark outside, he'd come in the house and hit sponge balls in the living room. I'd sit in my recliner and pitch to him. My wife wasn't always happy about that because he'd be tearing things off the wall."

Darick was 12 or 13 when he began asking his mom some questions about his father.

"I had a little identity thing where I wanted to know more," he said. "Just an understanding. OK, I don't look like the rest of my family. I'm the only dark person in my family. When you're young, you don't think about that. But when I got to be 12 or 13, I wanted to know. How tall was he? What did he look like?"

Lynette answered her son's questions.

And that was enough for Darick. He hugged his mom and went back outside and played baseball.

"I've never met my father," he said. "He's never been in my life. I don't even know his name. I have no desire to. It was like, you know what, he was never there, why do I need to worry about it anyway because the people who raised me cared for me so much?

"It was a hole in my life, but I didn't know it was there because I had so many people to fill it. To me, that part of my life is flushed now."

Young Darick with uncles Shane (left) and Ladd (right)

Bo Hall is 70 now, retired after a lifetime in coaching and education. Shane is 45, Ladd 41. Both have families of their own.

"My Pop always poured himself into me like I was his own son," Darick said. "He pushed me, not too much, but when I got to high school and really started taking ownership in the game, he always knew how to get the best out of me.

"As a young boy, you usually look up to a male figure in your life and a dad can be a superhero. My pop and my uncles, those guys were that for me. I watched how they played baseball, how they would talk to people. They were always men who did the right things and they always guided me. Looking up to them taught me how to be a man, how to take care of your family, how to take care of others, how to love, right? Because being a man does require you to love. They were really good guides.

"My mom and grandmother, too. I realize what the people around me did, taking care of me, guiding me, being there for me, just loving me because they didn't have to. You see some families in that kind of scenario and it doesn't go as well, so I have utmost respect and love for them."

Bo Hall is thrilled for his grandson. Darick was never a top prospect. The Phillies gave him consistent at-bats in the minors, he produced, an opportunity arose and he's making the most of it. He's been in the big leagues for 16 games and helped the Phillies win more than a few of them. In 61 at-bats, he has five doubles, four homers and eight RBIs.

The Phillies return from the All-Star break Friday night and Bo and Joyce will be watching on TV. They plan to travel to Philadelphia to see their grandson play on the first weekend of August. Lynette has already been to Philadelphia. She watched her son club a tie-breaking home run against the Cardinals in a 5-3 win on July 1.

Before putting down the phone the other day, Bo told one more story about the grandson he loves so much.

"We have a picture on the refrigerator, one of those baseball cards they make for the kids in Little League," Bo said. "Darick is seven. They asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up and he said, 'A big league baseball player.' It's always been his goal."

Pop, we finally made it!

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