BY BRANDON SPECK
FULTON – Lynette Weatherford could not hold back a smile when asked about Brian Dozier. The Minnesota Twins second baseman may as well be one of her own.
“He’s just like my third child,” the Fulton mayor said. “My son is between him and Clay (Dozier). Brian was always the younger one they could kind of tell what to do.”
When playing with Clay Weatherford and Clay Dozier, if a baseball went down the hill in the yard, Weatherford said they’d send Brian.
“He’d take off and they’d say, ‘You made it in 10 seconds,’” she said. “He’s so special to our family.”
Dozier is special in his hometown. He had his formative years to earn his name here. In Minneapolis, the story is the same. It feels the same, Dozier says, for him and wife Renee.
“We love it up here,” he said. “We try to be very involved in the community. I love to give back. Everybody up here is just super nice, just like back down South. There are a lot of similarities, a lot of things that we enjoy about it.”
Dozier has entrenched himself into Minneapolis, like he did in Fulton and in college at Southern Miss.
Said Clay Weatherford: “We went up last year to a game and we took a couple boxes of balls for people. He signed them all.”
H.D. Magee Field, where Dozier and the IAHS Indians play their home games at the city park, will soon have a sign that reads, “Home of Brian Dozier.”
Mickey Russell has been the park director for nearly three decades. He has seen Dozier’s game develop.
“Now and then you hear all the little kids down here and the parents especially, ‘If you work hard, you can be another Dozier,’” Russell said. Not Ken Griffey, Jr. or Derek Jeter. Fulton kids have their own personal hero to emulate.
B.J. Johnson, who works with Russell, was Dozier’s backup in high school.
“Right in his shadow. I don’t think I was going to win that one,” Johnson said, then laughed.
There is a good chance Dozier will be here when the sign is unveiled. Russell said he took reps with the high school team when he was switching from short to second after the 2012 season. He’s here, still firmly planted in two towns separated by more than 900 miles.
“You knew when he was a little boy, he was going to make it,” Lynette Weatherford said. “He’s celebrity here (too), but he’s still everybody’s BD.”