Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Astros coach raced to television before game to see his son, Dante Pettis, drafted by 49ers

Apr 28, 2018 at 9:44 PM--

Any father would want to be there to watch his son drafted into the National Football League. One dad's job made that impossible. Gary Pettis' son, Dante, was awaiting his big moment on Friday night. Dante, who finished his collegiate career with the Washington Huskies, was in San Clemente, California. Gary was busy working in Houston, Texas.

Gary didn't have the luxury of taking a couple of days off from work to be there at his son's side during the life-changing moment. You see, he is the third-base coach for the Houston Astros, who had a game that night against the Oakland A's.

During the time leading up to the game, Gary watched the draft broadcast from the coaches room at Minute Maid Park. After a while, he had to tear himself away from the television.

Gary left for the field to join his team for the national anthem. Once that was done, and players started to stretch, he knew he had a few moments before he would be needed again.

"We still had a little time left for the first pitch, so I said, 'You know what, let me run back upstairs one more time just to check,'" Gary said via the Houston Chronicle.

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Gary was hoping to catch his son's name being called. He got to the television just in time. The 49ers had just traded up to the 44th overall pick, where they made Dante the first of three Day 2 picks for San Francisco.

"I ran in the room, and I heard them say, 'With the 44th pick, the 49ers select Dante Pettis,'" Gary said. "And wow. It was awesome. I got to see it live."

Gary didn't have time to call his son to offer congratulations. He ran back out onto the field for work. Word had already spread. The Astros' manager, A.J. Hinch, and players had learned Dante was drafted and congratulated Gary. The team announced the selection to the home crowd after the third inning by posting Dante's photo on the stadium screen along with the news.

The Astros lost the game. However, an excited Gary found a 49ers hat waiting for him in the team clubhouse. He finally had a chance to call his son, who was about 1,500 miles away, to congratulate him.

A proud Gary wore the 49ers hat while speaking with reporters after the game. A photo of him wearing it eventually spread on social media.

Dante spoke with Bay Area media via a conference call immediately following his selection by San Francisco and confirmed that he had not yet spoken to his father, who was also a Major League Baseball center fielder before he entered coaching. Gary, a five-time Gold Glove Award recipient, played for the California Angels from 1982 until 1987 and then several other teams before retiring after the 1992 season. He started coaching in 1995 and has been with the Astros since 2015.

"I haven't talked to him yet," Dante told reporters on Friday. "They actually have a game right now. They just started about 20 minutes ago. Hopefully, he'll come in during one of the innings and call me. So, I haven't talked to him yet.

"It was awesome growing up. I've been around professional sports my whole life. I already have the lay of the land. Obviously, football is a little bit different than baseball, but for the most part, it's still a professional sport. They all go about their business pretty much the same way. I'm just excited to actually be here now."

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