"It bothers me when somebody beats me, or when somebody is better than me," Willie said. "My old man developed that attitude in me, and it's still there. When I was told that I would become a utility player, I decided that I would become the best utility player in the Major Leagues."The fact that he has played more positions -- seven last season -- than practically any other player in the big leagues demonstrates his value to the Mariners. But there is still something, or someone, missing at Mariners home games. Physical limitations prevent Bill from attending his son's games at Safeco Field. "One thing I am really grateful for is dad got to see me play the month of September in 2002, when I was first called up," Willie said. "It was before his accident, and he got a chance to be a proud dad for a month. "Ironically, the best day I ever had in the Majors was the last game he has been to. I hit a grand slam in the first inning off Rob Bell of the Devil Rays and drove in six runs. It was my first [Major League] home run. That was a special day." The father of two daughters himself, Willie said, "Dad and I have always been close. There were two sides to him: the one always pushing me to get better and be better and the one who took me fishing. "I was raised the right way. No matter how well or how poorly I play, I feel I play the right way. I give it what I got and play hard. Those are things my dad taught me how to do."
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less