The Dad Squad: Profiles & Interview with Charlie Cronenworth
MLB’s recognition of Father’s Day and its alliance with the Prostate Cancer Foundation carries extra significance this year for Padres fans in light of manager Bob Melvin’s recent health scare that fortunately turned out to be a false alarm.
Melvin, 60, and his wife Kelley have one daughter, Alexi, a writer and activist for Type 1 Diabetes awareness. After Melvin was hired by the Padres, she warned fans not to expect roster breakdowns or trade deadline takes from her social media accounts.
Melvin, 1982 Birmingham Barons (Detroit affiliate); Melvin with daughter Alexi, 2021
Back soon from the IL
“What’s going on here?” – Charlie Cronenworth Interview
Jake’s father Charlie describes the experience of being the parent of a major league ballplayer as “surreal.” The “what’s going on here?” reaction occurred as he watched his son play in the 2021 All-Star Game in Denver.
“You always want the best for your kids, but you never think something like this will actually happen.”
Charlie raised Jake and his brother as a single dad after his wife Anne died from a brain tumor when Jake was just four years old. There was help from the grandparents and other relatives as the boys grew up in St. Claire, Michigan. Charlie sees a lot of Anne’s personality in Jake, especially his determination and competitiveness. “That’s all his mom,” Charlie says.
According to Charlie, Jake is like his mom in another way: “He doesn’t wear his emotions on his sleeve. He’s not a big talker.” Jake is more of an “action guy” and has always channeled himself in this way. His approach to practicing baseball as a kid comes as no surprise.
“We strung a ball in a tree for him in the backyard. The neighbors still talk about Jake out there taking swings until it was too dark for him to see the ball.”
Jake played both hockey and baseball growing up. By the time he was 15, the family was running on fumes, trying to juggle the logistics of travel league schedules and school responsibilities.
Charlie sat his family down at the kitchen table one night after returning home late from a practice. Jake knew what the meeting was about and matter-of-factly announced his decision so that his father didn’t have to make him choose. “Baseball,” Jake said.
“I thought my dad [Charles Sr.] was going to have a heart attack,” Charlie says. The Cronenworths were mostly a hockey family. Jake’s brother, father, and grandfather all played collegiate hockey. His grandfather was offered a tryout with the New York Rangers before being drafted and serving as a Marine lieutenant in WWII.
Charlie talks with Jake often but says that everyone in the family laughs about learning the hard way not to ask him about baseball during the season if they expect more than one-word responses. “How was the game?” Charlie will ask. “Fine,” Jake will say. “Great play on that line drive up the middle.” “Thanks,” Jake responds.
So instead the conversations are about what’s new with family and friends as well as Jake’s other favorite topic: food. Charlie says that Jake is a “total foodie” and has been since he was a kid. When Charlie drove his boys back from late-evening games and practices, Jake would often talk his dad out of settling for the easiest fast food joint. Instead, he lobbied for going to his then-favorite Boston Market where he could get a well-balanced meal. These days, Jake’s favorites include seafood (especially salmon) and barbeque. He’s not much of a vegetable guy but green juices balance out his diet.
Charlie says that Jake often tells him that he loves playing on the Padres and that Machado and Hosmer are the best teammates he’s ever had.
As for the slow start to Jake’s 2022 campaign, Charlie has been frustrated by what appears to be the “deadening” of this year’s ball and its impact on Jake’s struggles at the plate early in the season.
As much as he takes pride in his son’s accomplishments on the big stage, Charlie says: “I will also tell you, it’s damn stressful. But Jacob is beyond mentally tough – a hundred times more than me. I think back to a text he sent me at 1 a.m. in 2019 after making Tampa Bay’s roster and then being traded to the Padres. It was the most emotional I’ve seen him. ‘Dad, I made the roster, and I want to thank you …’ I still can’t wrap my head around this, but I’m so proud of Jacob.”