Tate Matheny was 10 years old when he watched his dad, Mike Matheny, catch for the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2004 World Series.

But the Cardinals ran into a red-hot team of destiny and were swept by the Boston Red Sox.

Nine years later, Tate, starting his sophomore year at Missouri State, sat in Busch Stadium, watching his dad again. This time Mike Matheny managed the Cardinals in the World Series, again against the Red Sox.

Also holding a ticket in Busch Stadium during the 2013 World Series was Nick Lovullo, a sophomore at Holy Cross and son of Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo.

“Some crazy games,” Nick Lovullo said of the Series, which Boston won in six games. “Tate and I were just talking about it.”

Nick Lovullo and Tate Matheny are now teammates on the Portland Sea Dogs.

“Small world,” Lovullo said.

Torey Lovullo was still the bench coach in 2016 when Nick was drafted by the Red Sox in the 20th round. Nick was ready to join the organization that employed his dad.

Matheny, however, was enlisting with the enemy when the Red Sox drafted him in the fourth round in 2015, after his junior year at Missouri State. Matheny adjusted quickly.

“I joke around with my dad and say hopefully we’ll take one more from him someday,” Matheny said.

Matheny was the second outfielder drafted by Boston in 2015. In the first round, the Red Sox took Andrew Benintendi of Arkansas – another baseball “enemy” of Matheny. In 2015, Missouri State was one game from the College World Series, but Arkansas and Benintendi, beat the Bears 3-2 in the deciding game of their super regional.

Both Benintendi and Matheny were assigned to the short-season Lowell Spinners in the summer of 2015. They were together for only five weeks before Benintendi was promoted, but it was enough time for a friendship to bond.

“We became really close and have stayed close,” Matheny said.

Benintendi was an usher in Matheny’s wedding after the 2015 season. And now, in the offseason, Benintendi spends time in St. Louis.

While his friend shot through the system, stopping in Portland in 2016 on his way to the majors, Matheny has progressed steadily – low Class A Greenville in 2016, advanced Class A Salem last year and now Double-A Portland.

Lovullo, drafted after his senior season at Holy Cross in 2016, has skipped around. He began in Lowell and reached Greenville that year (with a two-game stop in Portland to fill in). Last year he played in Greenville and Salem with a six-game stop in Portland.

Meanwhile, Torey Lovullo moved on from the Red Sox to become the Arizona Diamondbacks’ manager. He’s in his second season while Mike Matheny is in his seventh in St. Louis.

And the two managers’ sons, both 24, can be found playing for the Sea Dogs.

“I don’t think there is any question (of their baseball IQ). These guys grew up in the game,” said Portland Manager Darren Fenster. “They get a really good sense of the big picture, what the everyday should be about, in terms of how to go about their business.

“And it’s not just when the lights go on, but how they act in the clubhouse to how they go about their warm-up and everything in between.”

From Hee Haw to Holy Cross

Lovullo is from Thousand Oaks, California, about 40 miles from Los Angeles. His grandfather, Sam Lovullo, was in the TV business, and eventually became the co-creator and producer of the popular country music/comedy show “Hee Haw.” Sam’s son, Salvatore “Torey” Lovullo, gravitated toward sports, played baseball for UCLA and was drafted by the Tigers in 1987.

An infielder, Lovullo moved around with seven teams over eight major league seasons, then turned to coaching in the Indians’ minor league system. He moved up to become manager of the Double-A Akron Aeros in 2005. By that time Nick, now 11, was joining him in the summers. When the Aeros came to Hadlock in mid-July, Nick tagged along.

“I thought this was the coolest place,” Nick said, “which makes it even more special for me to be playing here.”

Nick went back to school in California and missed the Aeros’ next visit to Portland, when Akron and the Sea Dogs competed in the Eastern League championship series, with the Aeros winning.

Torey Lovullo moved on to Triple-A, where he managed for five years, the last one with the Red Sox organization, in Pawtucket. In 2011 he joined John Farrell’s major league staff in Toronto, then moved with Farrell to Boston in 2013.

Lovullo missed his son’s baseball games although he coached his youth basketball teams for a couple of years. When Nick enrolled at Holy Cross – “the school that showed the most interest in me” – his dad watched some Crusaders games.

“A few times, where (Boston) would have a Sunday day game and we’d have a Sunday doubleheader. He’d come out and catch the second game,” Nick said.

Nick made his way to Fenway as often as possible, especially for the 2013 World Series – the games in St. Louis were conveniently played over a long weekend – and the younger Lovullo got to watch his dad celebrate with the world champions.

Torey Lovullo traveled to Maine once in 2014, to watch Nick play for the Sanford Mainers in the New England Collegiate Baseball League.

At Holy Cross, Lovullo never hit for a high average (.278 was his best, in his junior year), but did well to get on base (.410 OBP his junior year) and was a versatile infielder. It’s been the same way as a pro (career .230 average; .316 on-base percentage).

“Nick is a guy who’s going to bounce around the infield,” Fenster said. “He’s going to be in the right spot. He’s going to make the routine play. He’s going to give you a good at-bat. He’s going to have the right approach, whatever the situation dictates. And the fact that he’s a pretty heady baseball player kind of helps him play above what his physical tools are.”

Free sunglasses

Mike Matheny played his college baseball at Michigan, where he met his wife, Kristin, a Wolverines field hockey player. Their first son, Michael “Tate” Matheny, was born in 1994, the same year Mike broke into the big leagues with the Milwaukee Brewers.

Matheny’s major league career as a catcher spanned 13 seasons. Eventually his son joined him in the clubhouse or was shagging fly balls during batting practice.

“I wanted (to play baseball) since I was a real small kid, going into the clubhouse,” Tate said. “When I was really young, I told my dad I wanted to be a professional baseball player because they got free sunglasses. I thought that was pretty cool.”

And Tate Matheny was a pretty good player in baseball and hockey, leading his high school league in scoring.

While career baseball men rarely see their children play sports, Mike Matheny could for a few years. After the 2004 World Series, Matheny played two more seasons, both with the Giants, before retiring. He became an instructor with the Cardinals but still had time to watch his five kids, along with Kristin.

“My mom is a superhero,” said Tate, the oldest. “She kept us all in check and got us where we needed to be.”

His sister, Katie, was stellar in youth hockey and went on to play for Ohio State. His brothers, Luke and Jake, play baseball for San Jacinto College near Houston. Blaise Matheny is in high school and will play baseball for Missouri State next year.

Mike Matheny didn’t see much of Tate’s senior season in 2012. After the Cardinals won the 2011 World Series, Manager Tony La Russa retired and Matheny was picked to replace him.

In the 2012 draft, the Cardinals picked Tate in the 23rd round over Mike’s objections – he didn’t want added pressure on Tate or face complaints of nepotism. It didn’t matter because Tate went to Missouri State. With the Bears, he was a speedy outfielder and a .319 hitter over three seasons.

Eligible for the 2015 draft, the Red Sox chose Matheny and gave him a $500,000 signing bonus.

Now father and son don’t get to see much of each other.

“Obviously the schedules conflict, but I talk to him quite a bit,” Tate said. “And he watches my games online.”

Mike Matheny has extra incentive to stay in touch. He’s a grandfather.

“We get on Facetime so he can see my son,” said Tate, who, with his wife, Margaret, have a 10-month-old named Ryker.

Mike and Tate did have two special moments this past spring training, courtesy of Alex Cora, the new Red Sox manager. When the Cardinals came to Fort Myers on Feb. 27, Cora had Tate bring out the lineup card for the home plate meeting with the umpires and Mike Matheny. Tate later subbed into the game at center field and drew a walk in his one plate appearance.

When the Red Sox visited the Cardinals in Jupiter, Florida, on March 2, Cora made Tate the DH, batting leadoff. He went 0 for 2 with three walks.

“Really cool experience for me,” Tate said. “I was really nervous but we had a good time. Got to stay the night and hang out with him and mom, and my wife’s family.”

Back in the minors, Matheny is the regular center fielder for Portland – showing an ability to run down and dive for balls in the gap – while batting .288 with a .397 on-base percentage.

“Tate’s off to a very good start,” said Fenster, who also managed Matheny in Greenville two years ago. “He’s made some significant strides.”

Fenster continues to seek improvement in his players. He is also big on responsibility and professionalism, something he has little to worry about with Matheny and Lovullo.

“To have two guys like that, they’re as professional as they come,” Fenster said.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-7411 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: @ClearTheBases

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