Failure is no option for both Willie Calhouns

Willie Calhoun

Willie Calhoun

By Cary Osborne

Since June 18, 2015, the date of his professional debut, Dodgers No. 11 prospect Willie Calhoun is tied with Cody Bellinger for the most home runs in the Dodger minor league system with 28. He leads the Dodger chain with 17 homers this year.

The 5-foot-7-inch second baseman, who represented the Dodgers in the 2016 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at San Diego’s Petco Park on Sunday, isn’t close to reaching his power potential either.

So said Willie Calhoun — the 21-year-old’s father, Willie Calhoun Sr., that is.

“He’s a baby. He still hasn’t even shaved yet,” Senior said. “He hasn’t shown his man power yet. He still has baby power. I’d really like to see his man power.”

Senior was at Petco Park for his son’s big moment. And it’s clear that the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree.

Willie Calhoun Sr.

Willie Calhoun Sr.

He looks like junior facially and physically — he’s maybe an inch taller than his son at 5 feet 8 or 9 inches. Dad, a young-looking 44, is barrel chested with massive arms. Junior is just getting into weights.

But even more exciting is he’s like dad internally as well.

“I always have to remind myself I have to do twice as good as the next person,” Junior said.

Calhoun thrives on adversity. His size has been a constant challenge for him to overcome. Like dad.

“I played junior college football and was undersized in my position,” Senior said. “I was a safety. I always had to prove myself. It was instilled in my son. If you’re going to be undersized, you have to work hard and outdo everyone.

“I’m very proud of him. He’s a hard worker and that’s what Willie thrives on is hard work.”

And hard work comes from dad.

Willie Calhoun Sr., one of 14 children, works as a corrections officer on death row at San Quentin State Prison.

He has seen the baddest of the bad and meanest of the mean day after day for two decades. He has encountered inmates who had no fathers or no direction growing up. Men and women who used excuses and threw their lives away.

“It motivated me as a father,” senior said. “Failure is not an option in my family.”

There has been little of that thus far in Calhoun’s pro career. Credit dad.

“He doesn’t like to see any of his children fail,” Calhoun said. “It plays a big role for me. I’m the oldest. My brother and sister look up to me a lot. If I carry myself right and have confidence that carries on to my brother and my sister. I try to take that same approach (onto the baseball field). If I do fail, because I know baseball’s a failing game, wipe that off because if you fail seven out of 10 times you’re a Hall of Famer.”

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