Philadelphia Phillies third base coach Dusty Wathan grew up at Royals Stadium, watching his father John play for Kansas City Royals teams that appeared in two World Series and won six division crowns.
He later played his lone big league stint with the Royals in 2002, when he went 3-for-5 and played three games as a catcher. He finished his major league career with a .600 average.
“I remember every one of those hits,” said the proud dad, as he and Dusty were reunited last weekend when the Philadelphia Phillies came to Kauffman Stadium. “He spent a long time in the minors, and it was great to see him finally get his chance in the big leagues. And now, well, I’m just proud of him and what he’s doing with the Phillies.”
Dusty began his minor league playing career in 1994 with the rookie league Arizona League Mariners.
In 2007, he became a member of the Phillies organization and played for the Reading Phillies and Ottawa Lynx. He was the final out recorded in Lynx history, after grounding out to end the 2007 Lynx season, which would go down as their final campaign. Dusty retired after that year.
The 1991 Blue Springs High School graduate played 13 seasons in the minor leagues. In 3,216 at bats, he hit .273 with 58 home runs, 24 stolen bases, and 417 RBIs. He played 831 games behind the plate, 123 games at first, first, five at third and pitched in three games.
Dusty began his managerial career with the Phillies organization in 2008, with the Williamsport Crosscutters of the Class A short season. He managed Double-A Reading of the Eastern League from 2012 to 2017 and was the winningest manager in team history.
On Nov. 10, 2017, Dusty was named the third base coach on new Phillies manager Gabe Kapler’s staff.
“I grew up here, and it’s great to come back,” Dusty said before the three-game series between the Royals and Phillies started last Friday. “That was a different era – all the guys lived in Kansas City and I played on teams with the kids of six or seven other Royals players on the same team.
“During games, we’d run around the stadium trying to get foul balls – all the things kids do when they’re at the ballpark.”
He and his brother Derek, who also played professional baseball from 1998 to 2008 and now lives in Lee’s Summit, had a famous babysitter back then – Hall of Famer George Brett.
“George was always over at the house, he and my dad were roommates (on the road) back then, and he was like a member of the family,” said Dusty.
“I remember one time in spring training when he babysat us and Mom and Dad came home and we were watching ‘The Jerk,’ (a Steve Martin comedy) on TV – which really wasn’t appropriate for kids, I think we were about 7 and 4 years old – and George was asleep on the couch.
“We loved it when George babysat us.”
As he made that comment, John grinned, grimaced and shook his head no.
“Let’s say George was a better player than he was a babysitter,” John said.
John’s daughter, Dina Blevins, who works in the Royals public relations office, made sure Dusty was welcomed back to Kauffman Stadium with a locker she had decorated with family photos featuring him at many of the Royals Father-Kids Day baseball games.
“That was good,” Dusty said. “Dina did a nice job. It’s just great to be back. I wish we played here every year, but being in the National League, we don’t have that opportunity, so we have to make the most of every time we do play the Royals.”