- Dante is, of course, the son of longtime Major League star outfielder Dante Bichette, who played mostly with the Angels, Brewers, Rockies, Reds and Red Sox and owns a career batting average of .299 with 274 home runs over his 14-year career. He hit a career-high 40 home runs in 1995 and never struck out more than 107 times in a season. He also had one of the best outfield arms in all of baseball during his playing days.
The father built an indoor hitting facility in a warehouse not far from their Maitland, Florida home. The younger Dante was at the warehouse for several hours every day, and he invites his teammates along. Most of them would hang out at the warehouse almost every night.
- Mariana Bichette, Dante's mother and husband of the big league star outfielder, was asked about what young Dante was like growing up.
"He was a good boy, but at the same time, not boring and angelic. He always had a good scheme tucked away in his head. Never boring! Such a mom thing to say: When D was born, I described him as my perfect person. Now I would describe both my boys the same way, D and his younger brother Bo. You cannot put them in a “box” or label either of my children. You can trust them but they march to the beat of their own drum for sure. They are great that way," Mrs. Bichette said.
About being drafted by the Yankees: "I kept a pretty good log of all my communication with scouts along the way, and had it pretty nailed down so that I knew where the interest was. I knew that he had a chance to go in the mid-30’s. But I also felt that the scouting community had him undervalued in respect to two or three teams, which had held their cards pretty close to their chests. So I felt there was a good chance teams would think they could get him later, and that he could drop to the Yankees at 51.
"As a family we were really impressed with how thorough the Yankees were with D. The team knew him as well as any club could. So if the Yankees were going to defy the “experts” and take him, the only question to us was when to report. We have the moment on video- it is priceless, D all decked out in a Jeter jersey, with all of us inside screaming our heads off. Poor Damon Oppenheimer, the scouting director- he called us and I’m sure no one made any sense. We just screamed ‘thank you’ at him. It was perfect, as if we had always known that this was where he was meant to be. It was actually surreal, as none of us had one ounce of apprehension about (him signing)."
With all the evil influences in the world -- booze, drugs, PEDs -- how did you teach you sons to stay away from the negative aspects of society and stay on the right path?
"I will say it starts when the child is young and it involves an all-encompassing value system. For us, it is Christianity, being parents who are open and honest about their experiences, struggles and decisions, and nearly constant involvement and communication between parent and child. I sat with D for hours upon hours discussing choices he could make and what outcomes they might bring.
"I was the mom sitting around waiting for the carload of kids I took to wherever we all chose to go for the day. In short, I never gave him a chance to refuse to be with me or to listen to me. But I gave up adult things like parties and galas as part of the process. So I think I earned the right to speak in his mind; I wasn’t a hypocrite. We have a unique perspective on PEDs, given that Dante played MLB during the steroid era.
"We have shared our decision-making process with our kids over and over. Basically we believe we left millions on the table by deciding Dante would not take PEDs. I wouldn’t have stayed with him if he did, so he chose his family over a lot of baseball numbers. I don’t know- I think there’s no secret or easy answer to this. It is a matter of staying close enough and involved enough to be invited into conversations. It is taking every opportunity at any given time to pour into your child, hoping that everything you say settles in, and the right decisions will come as a result."
Asked to detail how Dante and D are alike, and different, Mariana said, "They are both endearingly strange. They are both myopic in their focus and can work forever at something they love and can’t bring themselves to work at all at something they don’t. Dante Sr has one signature dance move and if you ask him to show it, he will proudly oblige. D can rap, is ultra witty- but at the same time can be too sarcastic. Also, D decided to learn the guitar and so, he did. Like in three days. The power of that kid’s mind is unreal. Dante Sr is ridiculously afraid of heights and D likes to shoot himself 300 feet into the air at amusement parks, despite the fact that I’d rather he not."
- In August, 2005, the younger Bichette played in the Little League World Series with the team from Maitland, Florida. One of his teammates was Tanner Stanley, the son of former big league catcher Mike Stanley.
- Dante was also a highly-ranked amateur tennis player (consistently among the Top 100 in the world) before choosing to focus only on baseball at age 15 when he entered high school.
"I chose baseball because that's the one that I really loe and because playing baseball I can always cross-train with tennis; but playing tennis I couldn't cross-train with baseball," Bichette said.
"Tennis was a huge thing for me," Dante said, referring to how it helped him in baseball. "Especially playing defense -- the agility needed, the hand-eye coordination, the hops, that plays just like taking ground balls."
- Bichette Jr.'s senior year at Orangewood Christian High School (2011), he committed to the University of Georgia on a baseball scholarship.
In 2011, Dante hit .640 (55-for-86) with 58 runs 14 doubles, 10 home runs and 40 RBIs in 30 games for Orangewood Christian High in Maitland, Fla. Bichette was named the "all-Central Florida baseball player of the year" by the Orlando Sentinel in both the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
Following his junior year, he was selected as an Under Armour All-American and named his team's most valuable player.
- The Yankees chose Dante in the supplemental portion of the first round of the 2011 June Draft, the 51st player picked overall. He signed with scout Jeff Deardorff for an above-slot $750,000 late in June.
"Dante is one of the guys in this draft we thought had an impact bat and the potential to hit for big power in the middle of the order," Yankees vice president of amateur scouting Damon Oppenheimer said. "He's someone with an advanced makeup and work ethic who possesses the desire and drive to be a special major leaguer."
Yankee manager Joe Girardi remarked that he sometimes found it difficult to believe that the youngster who once fell asleep in his car seat was now the first pick by the Yankees in the June, 2011 draft.
- In 2011, Bichette led the Gulf Coast League in hits (67), doubles (17) and RBIs (47), winning MVP honors.
- Bichette is humble. In school, you could never tell he was a highly-regarded pro prospect.
But he has impressive leadership ability, and other players are drawn to be around him. He is a very nice guy who gets along with everybody.
- The Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Bichette as the 6th-best prospect in the Yankees organization in the spring of 2012. They dropped him to #21 in the winter before 2013 spring training.