BALTIMORE -- Susie Hardy never got to fully pursue her dream of turning pro, with injuries cutting short a promising amateur golf career after carpal tunnel surgery.
Her son, Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy, has been able to avoid those injury pitfalls and in the process has done more than simply reach the Major Leagues. One of the most popular players in Baltimore's clubhouse, Hardy -- signed to a three-year extension in July -- has cemented himself as one of the Orioles' most consistent players, using his natural ability and smooth hands to wow manager Buck Showalter on a near-daily basis.
"He makes a play look [so easy] that, unfortunately, a lot of us go, 'Ho-hum'," Showalter said of Hardy, who led American League shortstops with a .990 fielding percentage last season. "It's something. I'll say it again, I didn't know how good he was. Sometimes, because he's not particularly flashy, the awards go elsewhere. He's as fundamentally a sound guy as you will ever find."
Tracing back Hardy's athleticism isn't hard. His dad, Mark, was a hopeful on the pro tennis circuit while the former Susie Shinn had had an excellent amateur career, playing collegiate golf at Arizona and twice winning the Iowa Women's Amateur in 1974 and '76. She had her best season the following year, ranking in the top three, and lost in the third round of both the U.S. Women's Amateur and the Women's Western Amateur.
While Susie's dream ended with carpal tunnel, she was instrumental in helping her three children along.
"Yeah, she was the soccer mom," said J.J., who along with brother Logan and sister Jessica would come home from school and play sports for hours. "She would throw BP to us when we were in Little League, she was athletic enough to play catch with us and all that. It was great having her around. She didn't work, sometimes she would do golf lessons, but otherwise she was around all the time."
Hardy's parents came for the team's recent series in Anaheim, and given the hectic nature of a life in baseball, J.J. said he doesn't always have time to talk to his mother as much as he'd like. But he knows Susie and Mark are always watching every game.
"I think she really enjoys it," Hardy said of his mom's reaction to his playing pro ball. "My dad's the one who gets really into it and will let people know. He's the one who goes and talks to everyone. My mom is more quiet and laid back.
"I think I get a lot of that from her."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.