His head up, his eyes skyward, Brian Schneider moved to edge of the visiting dugout at PETCO Park, his feet dangerously close to where the footing was uncertain. A popup fell into his glove, and he nearly fell into the dugout. But after two quick steps at field level, he deftly moved down the stairs, maintaining his balance and his wits.
The Padres had a runner, Paul McAnulty, on first base when Khalil Greene hit the foul pop that Schneider handled. McAnulty could have tagged up on the play. That possibility flashed through the mind of the Mets catcher as he ran toward the third base dugout. So Schneider flipped the ball back on to the field, as he moved down the steps, hopeful a teammate would retrieve it and thwart any advance.
He'd had his head up, and he'd been heads up.
Peter Schneider would have been proud of his son's alertness, and pleased by the play. He would have enjoyed it even more had he been in San Diego to witness it June 5. But he and his wife Karen weren't due in until the following day. The were flying to San Diego to spend time with their big league son before taking their long-planned Alaskan cruise.
Pete Schneider had retired from the Navy a month earlier. He was free to travel. "They've always wanted to take a cruise to Alaska," their son said. "But they're coming here [San Diego] first, even though it's not really on the way from Florida."
As much as they looked forward to the cruise, they looked forward to seeing their boy. Pete Schneider loved the Navy and the idea of a post-retirement cruise. He loves his only son -- Brian has a sister -- and he loves baseball. This Florida-California-Alaska excursion made sense.
"He always tried to see me play whenever he could," the catcher said. Peter and Karen flew to San Diego in late May 2000 to see their son realize a shared dream and make his big league debut. "He was very instrumental in my baseball career," Brian said. "Basically, I would have had no chance of playing in the big leagues if he hadn't given me so much time. He made my baseball primary, everything else was secondary. He and my mom did everything they could for me to make it."
In that regard, every day of every season is Father's Day for Schneider. "I'm so thankful for all he did for my career," he says.
Schneider recalls the calls his father made on the way home from work. "You know, he'd call and say 'I'll be home in 20 minutes. Be ready.' And I'd get 200 swings at a tennis ball thrown against the garage. And I'd be denting the siding. We were a baseball family."
Pete Schneider, 60, pitched in high school, and there was a time after his 1971 graduation from the Naval Academy when big league clubs had their eyes on his right arm. But the Navy and his family's love for it denied the game one Schneider. And he made sure the next Schneider played.
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.