ATLANTA — Eric Young Sr. sees the great athletic genes whenever his son, Dallas, goofs around with a football or finds time to mess around at a baseball field. But the Braves’ first-base coach has an even greater appreciation of the joy his youngest child gets while living his dream to become a successful actor.
“It’s unbelievable,” the proud father said. “He’s so mature and humble and he understands what hard work can do for you. You can tell that he loves it. That’s what I told both of my boys, ‘Whatever you do, make sure you love it.’ Dallas loves acting.”
This could be a big year for 14-year-old Dallas Dupree Young, who plays the part of a young Willie Aikens in “The Royal,” a movie about the troubled former Royals star that is scheduled to premiere in 2021. The talented teenager previously starred in Nickelodeon’s “Cousins for Life” and has made appearances on a number of shows, including “9-1-1,” “Shameless” and “The Fosters.”
In addition to continuing to enjoy his blossoming career, the young actor is also looking forward to the chance to possibly return to his dad’s office this year. His father is back at Spring Training this week, preparing to resume the coaching role that he missed last year.
Eric Young Sr. opted to not coach last year after the Braves’ medical staff detailed the dangers he would face while going through the season as a high-risk participant. The former outfielder’s players digested the information and understood the gravity of the situation when his concerns prevented him from bringing his usual high-energy personality to the first Summer Camp workout last year.
A little more than seven months later, the medical information has given Young reason to believe he will be safe while progressing through the upcoming season.
“All the numbers have improved and I feel great,” Young Sr. said. “So I was like it’s time to get back out there on the field.”
Before he began a 15-season big league playing career, Young was a two-sport star at Rutgers University. He was on a football scholarship, but the time he spent honing his baseball skills was enough for him to eventually succeed at the game’s highest level.
But knowing how difficult it was to provide proper time to both sports, Young didn’t necessarily want his oldest son, Eric Young Jr., to follow the exact same path.
So after the Rockies took Eric Young Jr. in the 30th round of the 2003 MLB Draft, Young Sr. met with his son to see if he would rather immediately begin his baseball career or first stick to his football commitment to Villanova University.
“I told him we needed to talk because I needed to know where his heart was,” Young Sr. said. “He said, ‘I want to be a baseball player just like you.’ So I said, ‘OK, we’re going to take that avenue.’”
The decision proved fruitful as Young Jr. enjoyed a 10-season big league career, which included a stint with the Braves in 2015. He is currently a coach for the Mariners’ Triple-A affiliate in Tacoma, Wash.
There might never be a need for the youngest son to make a similar decision. Dallas still impresses as he hits and throws whenever he comes to the stadium with his dad throughout the season. That’s really the only time he ever picks up a bat and ball. But he still possesses that great athleticism that was seen when he schooled other elementary school kids during his flag football days.
“Dallas was doing things on the field I hadn’t seen when he was just 9 or 10 [years old],” Young Sr. said. “I said, ‘Where did you learn that?’ He’d say PS4 [PlayStation 4].”
Still, dominating the flag football circuit didn’t prevent Dallas from heeding the advice of a neighbor, who suggested he get into acting a little more than four years ago. A visit with a talent scout in Houston quickly led to a trip to Los Angeles for pilot season.
Less than two years later, Dallas was starring in “Cousins for Life.” His ascent in the acting world has been quick. But more important, it’s been a thrill for him and his father, who both have a genuine appreciation for the fact that they love what they do.
“He just loves to work,” Young Sr. said. “It’s a joy for me to watch, because I’m like, ‘Look at my little man.’”