'That's My Dad' Book Offers Look at the Fathers Behind Celebrities Like Darryl Strawberry, Michael Franzese (Interview)

Darryl Strawberry
Darryl Strawberry waits to speak to the media about Gary Carter at the Gary Carter Memorial Tribute in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida February 24, 2012. The event for the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame Player whose career included stints with the New York Mets and Montreal Expos was held at the Christ Fellowship. He was aged 57. |

Just in time for Father's Day, the newly released book, That's My Dad! highlights types of fathers, both positive and negative, that helped shape the lives of successful men and women in the world of media, arts, entertainment, and professional sports.

Authors Joe Pellegrino and Joe Battaglia decided to do something about the staggering statistics that show the one common denominator of many of society's problem — pornography, human trafficking, abortion, rape, murder, alcoholism, teen suicide, and incarceration — all side effects of having an absentee father. In an effort to provide a view of good fathers and father figures, the authors interviewed some of today's biggest names to share their stories. Featured in the book are Joe Girardi, manager of the New York Yankees; Allan Houston, former NBA All-Star and assistant general manager of the New York Knicks; Gretchen Carlson, author and Fox News commentator and host of "The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson"; Michael Franzese, former New York mobster with the Colombo crime family who is now an inspirational speaker and author; Darryl Strawberry, former Major League Baseball All-Star turned ordained minister, and many others.

The following is an edited transcript of Pellegrino and Battaglia's interview with The Christian Post in which they discuss the incredible testimonies from their celebrity friends in That's My Dad.

Christian Post: What prompted you to write this book?

Pellegrino and Battaglia: Men have an identity issues. Hollywood often depicts us as self-centered couch potatoes who are always looking to party, act like adolescents and play video games. While shirking all of our responsibilities along the way, one example of this lack of respect for fatherhood may be best illustrated by a recent survey of holiday church attendance. At the bottom of the list with Independence Day was, you guessed it, Father's Day. As a matter of fact, MOST people no longer can even tell you when Father's Day is! Why has this once welcomed day to honor fathers become a little more than a footnote to church attendance or the evening news?

Despite the fact many of us have fallen for that misrepresentation, there are many good men who are great dads. They have embraced the God-given role of fatherhood and are impacting their children by helping them to build and live successful lives. So, we wrote this to look at the impact of fathers in the lives of highly successful individuals. And get their insights on what their dads did to guide them to be the people they are today. Not all the stories are pretty. But they are all true and honest. Our kids are looking at us, and studying us, to see if we are really going to protect them, lead them, and love them. We need to once again make it cool to honor those men who have stood up to be great dads, granddads or mentors.

This book will identify the power of true fatherhood and the difference it makes in the lives of their children. Why is the role of the father so important? Men are being pulled in so many ways today that distracts them from their primary roles as husbands and fathers. As a result, all too often, our children suffer. Men who have abdicated their roles as fathers is the single greatest problem in society today. Now, more than ever, we need to understand the true role dads play in their children's lives as our kids face a world we could never have imagined.

CP: Who should read this book and why?

Pellegrino and Battaglia: The obvious first group should be fathers or men who plan to be fathers. The stories communicate some great truths and insights about fathering, and the admirable character traits that are the hallmarks of a great dad. Also, men who never had a father or whose dad was a non-involved or absentee father will find this book helpful as it talks about forgiveness and how to start a new life to model being a great dad to their children.

CP: How does faith play a role in this book? 

Pellegrino and Battaglia:  Faith is an integral part of the book as it's woven throughout each chapter in the interviews, our personal stories and the Biblical principles that tie it all together. For example, Darryl Strawberry both understood brokenness and the toll it takes on you, whether as a star athlete and celebrity or someone from the streets. The apostle Peter also understood it as well. He denied Jesus three times, turning his back on the one whom he swore he'd defend to the death just hours earlier. The resurrection saved Peter from a life of torment for what he'd done, just as the resurrection has saved Darryl and Willie Alfonso from repeating the lives of their fathers.

The measure of a man working through brokenness understands that God looks for His people in the junkyards and pawnshops of life, and He offers top dollar for redeeming them from those messes. Many people today have lived through the brokenness of a father relationship and yearn to be restored, to hear the words, "I love you," from their father. Tragically, however, they may never hear that from their earthly father. But God promises to be a "father to the fatherless."

Darryl and Willie have experienced that amidst terrible upbringings. They have found forgiveness from God so they could in turn forgive their fathers. Their brokenness did not end there, however. They were restored and have gone on to become fathers and family men. God specializes in repairing and restoring broken lives. If there's anything in need of repair in your life, it's never too late or beyond repair. Go to God with your concerns and experience His love and forgiveness today.

What is it in your life that you need God to repair today? Also, we highlight the "That's My Dad Movement" ( ) in the last chapter of the book to help men work through how to become a godly man and father. This movement is designed to honor the man, not necessarily your dad, who most impacted your life.

CP: Whose story touched you the most?

Pellegrino and Battaglia:  I'd say that both Michael Franzese's story and Kelly Wright's story. In Michael's case, despite his father's role in organized crime that eventually led him into that lifestyle, he was very positive about his father and his desire to help his children live normal lives. It goes to show that everyone, regardless of what their father may have done, wants to find something positive about their father. I think it's hardwired into us to want to follow the Biblical admonition to honor your father and receive his blessing. In Kelly's case, he had no father and never knew him because his mother was raped and chose to carry Kelly to term and raise him without a father. So Kelly eventually understood that God would be his father, as He promises to do in Psalm 68:5.

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