CINCINNATI -- Early in his life, from the time he could remember, to when he was 11 years old, Reds catcher David Ross equated success on the diamond with one thing: watermelons.
As a batboy for his father, also named David, and his ultra-competitive softball teams, Ross would travel every summer to the Watermelon Tournament in Monticello, Fla., about a half-hour northeast of Ross's hometown of Tallahassee.
For every home run a team hit, they were given a watermelon.
"My dad's team was really good," recalled Ross, laughing at the memory. "So, we were eating watermelon all day [and] we'd go home with four or five watermelons."
For the Ross family, family outings often revolved around the softball diamond. Two nights a week and weekends were devoted to games and tournaments. Every Fourth of July was spent at a different tournament, and Ross recalled often sleeping in the car under a shady tree during an all-day tournament.
"Basically, that was my introduction to baseball," Ross said. "You grow up doing that stuff and it becomes second nature to pick up a bat, a glove and a ball, and that's what you want to do for fun.
I ended up just enjoying baseball 'cause that's all I was around."
William S. Hupp is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.