"She's going to push me to stay in shape and stay healthy, and be a good pitcher as long as I possibly can," Verlander tells PEOPLE of his daughter

By Jason Duaine Hahn
March 27, 2019 01:13 PM
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While Justin Verlander helped to lead the Houston Astros to a World Series championship in 2017 and has experienced lasting success throughout his storied career in the MLB, none of it comes close to the happiness he feels now as a new father.

“It’s the most amazing experience in my life and to be a dad, I really can’t even put into words how much I love this little girl,” the Houston Astros pitcher tells PEOPLE. “It goes so quickly, it’s been an amazing experience that I’m not taking for granted. I’m relishing every moment.”

Since the November birth of the couple’s daughter, Genevieve, Verlander says he’s reflected on the lessons that were passed down to him by his father, Richard, who recently participated in a series of videos with him where they discuss baseball and their favorite memories on the field. Verlander has struggled with allergies since his college playing days and filmed the series in partnership with Flonase Allergy Relief.

“With this new perspective on things as a new father,” Verlander explains, “I think about how my dad introduced a lot of great things to me and allowed me to be as good as I can be. He allowed me to be the person I am and instilled this work ethic in me. These are some traits that I want to pass down to my daughter.”

“To be able to do film these videos as a new father and relive some different moments, it really opened my eyes to some of the things … Perspective is everything.”

Verlander and Genevieve’s mom, Kate Upton, married in 2017 after he won the World Series.

Justin Verlander
| Credit: Justin Verlander/Instagram

With spring training starting to wind down and opening day kicking off on March 28, Verlander says he’s trying to squeeze in as much family time as he can before he has to turn his attention back to baseball.

“We don’t have much time to ourselves once the season starts. I think during spring training we try to spend as much quality time together as we can,” Verlander says. “We’re done at the field usually pretty early, unless I’m pitching that day. I think we all enjoy this time of year because of the ability to spend time together. Once the season starts, I’m on the road a lot, and my wife’s on the road a lot.”

Credit: Steve Granitz/WireImage

Verlander will be heading into his 15th season in the major leagues after spending nearly 13 years with the Detroit Tigers before Houston traded for him in 2017. Much like New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, Verlander, 36, says he hopes to continue playing into his mid-forties.

“I think throughout my time in the game I’ve learned a lot about how I can regimen my body to be in the best shape possible. I connect with Tom Brady on that mentality of wanting to play until I’m 45,” Verlander says. “I think we play two very different sports so my workout regimen is different than his, but the same mentality, right? Take care of your body the best you can to perform at what you need to perform at. Then just go about that business and find the best way to be at the top of my game.”

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While his passion for the game is one of the main reasons why he would like to pitch for many more years to come, Verlander says he also would simply like his daughter to have memories of him playing.

“I would like to be able to play long enough that my daughter can see me and remember me playing baseball when she grows older,” he says. “Maybe if anything, it’s going to push me to stay in shape and stay healthy, and be a good pitcher as long as I possibly can. I want her to be able to remember me on the field.”

And that doesn’t mean Verlander expects his daughter to follow in his footsteps.

“She can be her own woman,” he says. “I’m not going to be putting any pressure on her. She can do what she wants and I’m excited to see. She’s got her whole life ahead of her. I can’t even picture what. … We can all sit here and speculate, it’s fun. She’s got big hands so maybe she’ll play the piano, I don’t know! Possibilities are endless.”