Thirty-two years ago, Dion James was a hard-nosed outfielder at McClatchy High School who twice separated his shoulder diving for balls hit in the gap.
Teams scouted James during Metro League games but made no visits to his home before the draft, which is common today.
"It's so different now, because I had no idea where I'd get drafted, how it worked, what it really meant," James recalled this week. "And getting drafted, you never forget it. It's so special."
In 1980, James' mother, Evelyn Ayres, fielded that draft call in their home located a relay throw from McClatchy.
"Son, I think you better take this," she said calmly.
It was a Milwaukee Brewers executive. James was drafted in the first round, No. 25 overall. He recalled dancing to the point that the family dishes shook.
"When I got that draft call, I was ready to go," said James, 49. "I was ready to work. I loved watching Reggie Jackson and Vida Blue. I wanted to be like them."
James logged 11 big-league seasons with the Brewers, Braves, Indians and Yankees, and had a stint in Japan.
These days, James keeps tabs on his three sons. Two play baseball.
Justin James was drafted by the Yankees in the 13th round last year out of Sacramento City College. He signed to play the outfield.
Jared James, also an outfielder, was this season's Metro Conference MVP as a senior at McClatchy. He was not drafted this week but will continue to chase the dream at Sac City.
Youngest son Jarvis is a sophomore at McClatchy. He played Little League baseball before deciding he preferred to have a different stick in his hands in a pursuit requiring patience and persistence.
"We fish a lot," Dion James said with a laugh. "There's a lot less anxiety with a fishing pole. That's our release. I don't mind him not playing baseball. If you don't love it, if you don't have fun with it, then it doesn't work."
Baseball is fun for Jared James, who rejoices in hitting home runs.
"I can't help it I like to dance around the bases," said Jared, who hit seven home runs this season. "A home run never gets old."
Jared didn't homer in the River Cats Showcase Game of area seniors last week at Raley Field, but he did smack a triple. Waiting for him at third base was his father, one of the coaches. They high-fived and embraced.
"I'm so lucky to have a dad who knows the game, who taught me so much," Jared James said.
At 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, Justin towers over his 6-2 father. Jared is 6-3 and 215 pounds.
"Oh, they're so much bigger and stronger and faster than I was at that age," Dion James said.
James said he was conflicted watching his sons play through the years. As much as the major leaguer in him wanted to push them to succeed, he tried not to be an overzealous parent.
"We have a lot of parent involvement in youth baseball, and not always good," James said. "I've been guilty of that. I've been the supportive parent, and I've been the crazy parent. You have to remember it's about the kids.
"Watching was fun but not always easy. You felt helpless. You can't get a hit for them. You can only help them with guidance if they want it, and you hope they do well and enjoy the game like I did."