CLINTON, Iowa (AP) — Trevor Gretzky is known more for his iconic last name than his baseball career.
But Trevor isn’t looking to escape his famous father’s shadow.
He hopes “The Great One” can help him become “The Next One.”
The 22-year-old son of retired NHL star Wayne Gretzky toils in relative anonymity as a left fielder for the Class A Burlington Bees in the Los Angeles Angels farm system.
Beyond those famous seven letters atop the back of his jersey, Gretzky is just another kid hoping to beat the odds and reach the majors.
To do so, Trevor leans heavily on the advice of Wayne, whose passion for baseball has helped fuel his son’s career.
“You’d be surprised. He knows a lot about baseball. Pretty much everything I know about the game is because of him,” Trevor Gretzky said of his father, whose 894 goals are just one of a slew of NHL records he holds.
That Trevor chose baseball over hockey isn’t a shock to the Gretzky family.
In fact, Trevor described his father as a “huge baseball nut” who nudged his son toward his adopted country’s national pastime from an early age.
Gretzky was born in Los Angeles just weeks before a season that ended with his father’s last trip to the Stanley Cup finals with the Kings.
Trevor gave hockey a go in elementary school. But driving back and forth in the early morning for ice time proved tedious, so he followed his friends into football and baseball.
With his father carting him back and forth to the batting cages on a near-daily basis, Trevor blossomed into a star at Oaks Christian in Westlake Village, California, and was selected by the Chicago Cubs in the seventh round of the 2011 amateur draft with the 219th pick.
“My dad let me do what I wanted to do. He never forced me to do anything,” Gretzky said.
But while his father took the NHL by storm as a wunderkind, winning the first of nine MVPs at just 19, Trevor has yet to emerge as an elite prospect.
Trevor signed a minor league contract for a $375,000 bonus, hit .274 in rookie ball in 2012 and .306 in 49 at-bats with the full-season Class A Kane County Cougars two years ago.
Trevor was then traded to Los Angeles — for another famous kid, Angels manager Mike Scioscia’s son, Matt — before 2014. He posted a paltry OPS of .520 and 47 strikeouts in 179 at-bats.
The Angels are hoping that a full season in A ball will help Gretzky develop the consistency needed to advance to the next level.
In fact, the Bees plan on giving Gretzky regular playing time in hopes of jumpstarting his career.
Gretzky was batting .269 through 22 games as of Wednesday, despite a recent trip to the disabled list for what the Bees said was a minor knee issue.
“He plays a good left field. Catches the ball, makes the plays. He’s got some power in his bat,” said Burlington manager Chad Tracy. “There’s a lot of things to like. Now he’s going to get a chance to show it here.”
Gretzky is set to spend the season in the Midwest League, which includes teams in Fort Wayne, Indiana; Bowling Green, Kentucky; and Beliot, Wisconsin. His home for the summer, a town of roughly 25,000 on the west shores of the Mississippi River, couldn’t be more different from the glitz of Gretzky’s childhood.
But Trevor said his parents listen to the radio play-by-play as much as they can, and he speaks to his parents after nearly every game.
And if Trevor is fortunate enough to reach the majors, he said he hopes someday to wear No. 99 — the number Wayne made famous — as a tribute to the man who pushed him into baseball.
“All pro sports are the same. You work hard, and the guys who work the hardest and play the hardest come out on top,” Trevor said. “He’s been telling me that since I was a little kid.”
Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.