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Rays' Rasmus brothers credit dad's tough love for success

Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jacob Faria (34) signs for fans before the start of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Fla. on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017.
Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jacob Faria (34) signs for fans before the start of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Fla. on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017.
Published Feb. 28, 2017

PORT CHARLOTTE — The Brothers Rasmus share a clubhouse again, reunited as teammates with the Rays for the first time since the duo won a state title while playing for their dad at Russell County High in Seale, Ala.

Colby is an outfielder on a one-year, $5 million base contract. Cory is a pitcher on a minor-league deal, hoping to restart his major-league career after a series of injuries.

Said Cory: "You work your tail off to get to the big leagues, and for us to now have a chance to play together, it really is special."

That is not a cliche. The Rasmus brothers, four in all, participated daily in demanding conditioning and baseball drills set up by their father, Tony, a high school chemistry teacher who grew up without a father and who never thought he got the most out of his potential despite spending three years in the Angels organization.

The brothers lived with their father and mother, Robin, and their younger brothers, Casey and Cyle, in Phenix City, Ala. All the boys are less than five years apart in age. Colby, 30, is the oldest.

Said Colby: "We grew up in a single-wide trailer. Not much. My parents struggled to get by with four kids."

Tony Rasmus' own father skipped out on the family when Tony was young.

Tony did not return a message from the Tampa Bay Times. He told in 2013 that he wished he had a father to push him, to hold him accountable.

Said Colby: "He had a lot of resentment for that. He didn't have that strict upbringing or somebody caring about him enough to want to put that time in with him. … From the time we were little bitty, my dad instilled hard work in us and the will to win."

Said Cory, 29: "He asked us when we were 9, 10 years old, 'If I can give you a chance to play in the big leagues, do you want it? Do you want me to do everything I can, do you want it?' We were both like, 'Yes.' From that moment on we knew it was work."

Said Colby: "Anything that could give us an edge, he thought of. We drank protein shakes four times a day. We got upwards of 7,000, 8,000 calories a day, and that was on top of meals."

Said Cory: "You pretty much have to report to him. He put it in our court, like you're going to take 100, 250 swings a day, whatever it was. Every day is a little bit different. This is going to be done before you go out and play for the rest of the day. So, we'd wake up in the morning, we'd lift, get our swings in. We did that all before 10 o'clock. … You could see the other kids around the neighborhood, they weren't doing all these things and they weren't as good, so, 'Hmm, maybe it's working. Maybe what we're doing is putting us a little better than them.' "

Colby and Cory were members of the 1999 Phenix City team that reached the Little League World Series championship game. In 2014, Tony and Robin were named the George and Barbara Bush Little League Parents of the Year. Tony has won more than 400 games as a high school baseball coach.

Tony to "I would have had problems as a father if they didn't work hard. I tried to work them to death. What is normal? I don't really apologize for all the stuff we did. People can sit on the outside and say you were too hard. Both of them are in the big leagues, I don't know what we did wrong. You don't have a second chance. If we erred, we erred on the side of working hard."

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Said Colby: "We wouldn't be here if it wasn't for his hard work that he put in to us. He cared enough about us to put the time in. … Everything he could do to get us better, he did it. Instead of spending money on stuff for himself or clothes or whatever, he was spending money on protein shakes and equipment for us to be able to use and get better."

Colby was taken by the Cardinals in the first round of the 2005 draft. Cory was a first-round pick by the Braves the next year. Casey was drafted in the 26th round by the Cardinals in 2011 and played three years in the organization.

The upbringing was hard. There were times the boys resisted. Tony was their father, never their friend. But now that the Brothers Rasmus are in the big leagues, now that all the work is done, the relationship has softened. There are golf outings. Trips to the beach.

Said Cory: "Let's go and enjoy what we worked so hard all these years for."


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