In 2001 when Dave Hollins drove to work at what is now Coca-Cola Field, he brought his son, Dave "Bubba" Hollins, along.
The younger Hollins could be seen running the bases after the games or hanging out with Bisons legend Duke McGuire in the clubhouse. At the age of five, he experienced the professional baseball atmosphere.
The senior shortstop from Orchard Park may have many more firsthand opportunities to experience that atmosphere after being selected by the Detroit Tigers in the 35th round of the MLB draft.
"I was at a loss for words," Hollins said. "It means a lot. It's one of my goals, but not my main goal. I want to get to the big leagues, be a great player, make a name for myself and win championships. But this is by far my biggest accomplishment yet."
Hollins is one of only four Western New York players since 2009 to be drafted by a MLB team (the others: Kyle Hoppy, 2009; Mark Armstrong, 2013; Johah Heim 2013). He has spoken with multiple professional scouts after his games recently.
Hollins has played for the varsity team since his sophomore year.
"He was captain the last two years, and not too many juniors are voted captain by the players," OP coach Jim Gibson said. "He showed everybody how to work both at practice and in the offseason."
Hollins hit leadoff his sophomore year and has hit third in the order since. This season he batted .500.
For all of his life, Hollins has had the perfect person to look up to. Dave Hollins played 12 years in the majors, participated in an MLB All-Star Game and now scouts for the Philadelphia Phillies. He played for the Bisons for one season shortly before retiring from the game in 2003.
"He's always been my biggest role model on and off the field," Bubba Hollins said. "I've wanted to be like him and act like him. He just has the perfect demeanor. I work to not only be as good as him, but to surpass him and be better than him."
"I can learn everything from him. How to get there, how to stay there, getting to the next level, winning and keeping my position… Once you get to a certain level, talent is nearly equal. Whoever wants it most, and whoever will work at it every day, will get the job."
Hollins said he has a strong connection with his father, who is also a member of the Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame. But professional scouts are on the road for long periods of time. Dave often didn't get much time during baseball season to work with his son. When his father wasn't home, Bubba had his mother, Kerri work with him.
"Both my parents have been such an inspiration. My mom has been there for me. She always threw to me. She was always positive. She would do everything when my dad was out of town."
Dave worked with his son as much as he could, but when it came to baseball, he never had to pressure him.
"When I coached in the minors in 2005, I took him with me," Dave Hollins said. "But other than that, the fall and winter was our time. Once he started high school ball, we started doing our workouts. He hit puberty a little late, but once he did, his body took off (He's now 5-foot-11, 180 pounds). He was a bit of a late bloomer, but baseball isn't a sprint. It's a long race."
When Bubba Hollins wasn't in the middle of baseball season, he has gone to Bob Bateson at Body Blocks since he was 12. Additionally, Hollins received hands-on baseball instruction from Justin Santonocito at Academy Stars in Blasdell. But Hollins always seemed to be in the middle of a season.
"As soon as my high school baseball season would end, I'd play AAA Muny, AAABA and for a team called the Buffalo Braves right into the fall," he said. "Then football season would come. Immediately after football I'd begin individual training, which involved the weight room, speed training and hitting in the cages six to seven days a week. That lasted right up until high school season."
Hollins played football from age seven until this past year. And while Hollins never had to be pushed to work harder at baseball, he sometimes didn't try as hard to put on weight. He didn't care too much about protein or gaining muscle for a few years, but he finally realized the importance. Those things matter, according to his father.
"It is very tough to get drafted out of high school unless you are a pitcher who throws 90 mph," Dave Hollins said. "Teams in Western New York don't play enough and don't get scouted enough as other parts of the country."
"I had always taught him to work harder and tougher and to want it more. Coming from Buffalo where we don't play a lot, that was really important. But people shouldn't discount your talent."
Dave Hollins knows a thing or two about being drafted.
However, Dave was drafted while he was in college – not out of high school. Also, Dave's brother, Paul, was a prospect in the Mets, Tigers and Mariners organizations.
How does Bubba stack up against the infamous Hollins brothers from OP?
"He's more polished than we were," Dave Hollins said. "He's better at fielding, has better instincts and bat control. I had a stronger arm at this age. My brother, Paul, had a more powerful bat at this age, but he's more polished."
"I wasn't ready for pro baseball at age 18. Bubba could play right now."
Playing right now is the goal, both Hollins agreed.
"I'm going to wait and see what the Tigers offer, but it's nice to know that I have a great school in the background," Bubba said. "They have 80-degree weather, a great program and great coaches." Hollins is scheduled to attend St. Petersburg College in the fall.
Dave Hollins added if his son's offered playing time, great. If not, he can go to junior college and re-enter the draft in a year or two.
Either way, Hollins knows his son has the right mindset.
"One of his strengths is definitely his passion, and that's something you can't teach," he said. "He's a humble kid and a hard worker. He treats people the way you want to be treated, and I'm most proud of that. He's a great baseball player, but he's more importantly a really good kid."
Gibson repeated that praise.
"Just a very nice kid," he said. "He's never arrogant and never showed off; just very humble. The kids were never jealous of him because he wasn't your typical star athlete. He has a calm demeanor and is a calming influence. He is a very nice kid and it rubbed off on others."
Hollins is also an honor roll student.
Bubba Hollins also spoke of playing hard and out-hustling everyone else. He takes prides in setting the example and being looked up to by other players.
"You don't replace a guy like that," Gibson said. "With his stats and the way he played, his leadership and his influence on the other players… Someone else will play shortstop next year, but you really can't replace a guy like that."
OP has been nearly dominant in Hollins' three seasons, but can't seem to win the big one. The Quakers have lost the sectional final the last two years – to Clarence in 2013 and to Lancaster this season. Now they will have to try and get over the hump without their best player and hands-down leader.
Gibson said Hollins being drafted shows the level of baseball being played in Western New York. While football or basketball may get more coverage, scouts and others are starting to take notice, he said.
As for Dave Hollins, he may have a slight conflict of interest if his son does in fact sign with the Tigers. But the 48-year-old scout is excited about the possibility of his son joining him in cashing a paycheck from an MLB team.
The next time Hollins runs the bases in Coca-Cola Field, it could be as a member of the Detroit Tigers AAA team. You just never know.
One thing Bubba Hollins does know for sure?
Whether he ultimately makes it or not, he will be the hardest working player on the field at all times, at every level.
That's the only way he knows.