D-backs’ Derrick Hall talks fatherhood, youth sports and surviving cancer

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Derrick Hall, Arizona Diamondbacks, father, cancer survivor, Father's Day
Arizona Diamondbacks CEO Derrick Hall—with Kylie (14), wife Amy, Hayden (17), and Logan (20)—says he counts his blessings on Father’s Day. Photo by Jennifer Stewart.

As CEO of Major League Baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks, Derrick Hall has a big job. But he would tell you that his most important job is being a dad.

The father of three lives in Paradise Valley with his wife, Amy. Two of their children, Hayden and Kylie, still live at home; their eldest son, Logan, attends Pepperdine University in California.

Hall says his greatest personal challenge was being diagnosed with prostate cancer in September 2011, at age 42. As his team was battling for a division title, he began a battle for his life. He now is cancer free and has turned his experience into a positive force by becoming an advocate in the cancer fight through his Derrick Hall Pro-State Foundation.

With Father’s Day just around the corner, we asked this high-profile dad some questions about his kids’ involvement in sports, youth coaching and how prostate cancer changed him as a parent.

What’s the biggest benefit of having a child involved in sports?

Playing sports is vital to social development in my opinion, particularly team sports. Children learn the importance of teamwork and camaraderie, and also learn how to deal with adversities, such as overcoming losses. Positive sportsmanship has been stressed to our children throughout their youth.

You have both sons and a daughter; do you find a difference in the way girls are coached as compared with how boys are coached?

Fortunately, I do not. If anything, I think our daughter’s instruction is even more rigorous. She is mentally and physically tough because of her two older brothers, and she craves the competition.

What’s your greatest takeaway from professional sports when it comes to your own children’s involvement in athletics?

Being in professional sports, I never wanted my children’s coaches to feel nervous or anxious with our involvement. For that reason, I rarely spoke up or got involved with the instruction of our children. I took a strong approach to remain in the background.

Among your ballplayers, can you see differences in how they were coached as young athletes?

The fact that they reached this level tells me they had coaches who impacted them positively and encouraged them to continue playing. Too often, children stop playing sports because they had negative coaching experiences. We need children to continue playing, so we need knowledgeable and passionate coaches. That is why we host coaching clinics and why so many of us are involved with the Positive Coaching Alliance.

What’s the most positive trait you see among your players that you hope your children will emulate?

Our players are unique because they have a genuine care and concern for our community. I want my children to have that same philosophy and approach. Being active and positive members of their community is most important in the future. There is nothing more rewarding than giving back, and our players exemplify that thought.

What trait among your players would you hope your children would leave in the locker room?

I hope they can all leave the losses behind. That goes for all of us in the front office, too. We’re so emotionally committed and attached to every pitch and out that it can impact our lives and families. I am always in a bad mood after a loss, and that’s unfair to my family. I hope our players can leave the bad results behind and spend happy and memorable times with their families afterwards.

How has being a prostate-cancer survivor changed you as a father?

I count my blessings and spend as much free time as I can now with my kids.

How will you celebrate Father’s Day?

On Father’s Day, our family will travel to one of our minor-league affiliates. Our foundation, the Derrick Hall Pro-State Foundation, is working with Minor League Baseball to provide information and a collectible for fans at every minor-league stadium hosting a game on the holiday.

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