Astros Manager Phil Garner said that sometimes when baseball players are at or near milestones it can really be hard to get over the top. What are your thoughts about that?
It’s true, you know, it’s a lot more tension, a lot more everything. But it’s also big for you as a person, as a player, as an accomplishment. Sometimes it can be a little bit overwhelming. You’re like, wow, I can’t believe it.
How do you get it all done with such a swirl around you?
It’s tough, because I just go home and sleep now. Normally I go work out and train and everything else and now I’m just exhausted all the time, just tired, always tired. I’ve never been like this before. I just sleep all the time, all day.
Is this what you thought it was all cracked up to, to get this far in your career, and with all the stuff that has gone on, is it as much fun?
Do you already look ahead to Hank Aaron, or can you not look that far?
I have to think of trying to get a hit. Once I get that one, then I’ll work on the next thing. I have to get one project out of the way first. (laughs).
How does this career chase compare to the single season chase?
It’s different. The single season situation can only happen once. This is like chasing two ghosts. It’s like crazy. I can imagine what Roger Maris went through and Babe Ruth just hovers over people a lot (laughs).
Have you had the chance to talk to Willie Mays much?
What does he say to you?
Quit screwing around. What the @#@# is wrong with you? That’s it pretty much.
How many guys on this planet can talk to you like that?
Not many at all, except my mom.
What about these intentional walks. Does it affect your focus any at all?
It’s harder when you get older. And then with my knees being sore, you know, as innings go on I get tired and tireder and my leg gets tired, and that’s just reality but that’s not excuse. You still have to go out there for your teammates and do your job so, regardless so…. It will funnel down to somebody else after I’m gone.
It must be incredibly frustrating though.
I’ve been going through it, for I don’t know, ten years? I am accustomed to it. It’s just that you know, I haven’t been patient in the opportunities that I have had. Swinging at a lot of pitches that I normally wouldn’t swing at. Taking more changes than I ever have in my whole entire career. Most of the time, I just wait. Wait it out. But right now I just haven’t had that patience to wait it out.
That is true. We are scoring those runs. Some teams are scoring more runs than we are in those opportunities (laughs).
Was it tough if you weren’t able to hit 714 at home?
Yeah, that was the most important thing for me. San Francisco is my hugest supporting cast and the fans, and I have been able to do it for them ever since I’ve been here and there’s nothing more gratifying. And if you want someone to catch a ball, you want it to be on your terms. The way I’m swinging, it looks like I can wait. (Laughs)
You’ve hit homeruns in this ballpark (Minute Maid). You like it in this park.
It’s a good ballpark. Our ballpark is a little tougher to hit home runs in. But, I’ve been to a lot of the easier ones too and haven’t done much either, so…Right now it’s just getting a hit. I’m going to work on that first. I might start bunting to move the third baseman back to his normal position.
Wonder what it would be like to travel to ball parks around the country, play catch with All-Star players, and hang out in the dugout and clubhouse with the guys? Luke Matheny knows all about it. His dad, Mike Matheny, is a 3-time Gold Glove winner, and one of the games finest defensive catchers. The 12-year veteran plays for the San Francisco Giants. Luke was in Houston with his dad May 15-17. I had a chance to catch up with him and talk about his experiences.
How old are you, and what grade are you in?
I am nine and in the third grade.
Do you want to be a baseball player when you grow up?
Yes, I think that I do.
Do you play baseball now?
Not this year, but I will next year.
Who is your favorite baseball player besides your dad?
I don’t know. There are lots of favorites!
Do you travel a lot with the team?
No, but I usually go to San Francisco and Arizona.
When you do travel, like now, do you get to get out of school a lot?
Yeah – it’s pretty fun!
What are your favorite places to go when you do get to travel for fun?
I like Texas, Hawaii, St. Louis, Florida, and different places.
What’s it like having a dad as a professional baseball player?
It’s great because you get to travel a lot, meet a lot of people and see a lot of stadiums.
Do you have any hobbies?
Not really, I like do everything!
Mother’s Day is a time of honor and celebration for Mom.
With Mother’s Day coming up this weekend, I thought about my mom and how much she has given up for me, so I decided to ask some baseball players how their moms influenced them in life. Here’s what they had to say.
Astros Andy Pettitte – “She was a wonderful influence on me. She showed me a lot of love, and cared for me so much. She taught me how to treat other people. She was a huge influence.”
Astros Roy Oswalt – “She gave me support most of all. When I was in college, she came out and supported me more than anybody.”
Cleveland Indian’s Danny Graves – “She’s taught me to respect people. She’s Asian, and Asian people have a lot of respect for each other and other people. She’s in Florida, so I’ll call her and send her some flowers.”
Astros Craig Biggio – “She was real supportive. Where I grew up there was always traveling to do and she was my carpool. Both mom and dad were very supportive.”
Cleveland Indian’s Todd Hollandsworth – “My mother has been one of the most influential people in my life. I know that I wouldn’t be where I was without her. All the motivation and all the encouragement as far as the game of baseball is concerned, she was the backbone of that, and my childhood.”
Astros Mike Lamb – “My mom has been the calming influence on me, always steady in her emotions. Baseball is up very up and down. She relaxes me and tells me to keep working hard and everything will turn out for the best.”
Cincinnati Reds Ken Griffey Jr. – “My mom was always there for me. She drove me to all my baseball games and basketball games and made me realize that there are more important things than yourself. Taking care of other people is just as important.”
Chicago Cubs Derek Lee – “She was a huge influence on me. As most moms are for their kids, she was there very day for me and she taught me a lot about life.”
Pittsburgh’s Sean Casey – “My mom is my best friend and the best person I have ever met. I talk to her every day, sometimes twice a day. She has shown me what love is all about.”
Sportswriter Michael McHugh – “My mom is a wonderful person. She has taught me to love, be respectful, and responsible. She has helped me reach my dreams, and I love and dedicate this to my mom.”
My greatest strength is probably my ability to hit. I also have a really good arm but probably my ability to hit.
What sports did you play growing up?
I played a lot of sports growing up. I played baseball, basketball, football, soccer, bike racing and I think that was about it.
Baseball was my first love. It was a game that my dad played. He played professionally for the California Angels for two years and he gave up his dream to be a father and a husband to my mom, and a father to us kids. My dad gave up his dream to provide for our family and it was a love that he had, so I kind of wanted to carry the torch that my dad had, in playing baseball. I think that is why I love baseball so much.
Have you had any other jobs?
Yes, I’ve worked at a Christmas tree farm, I taught batting lessons, and that is mostly about it.
What are your hobbies?
I would have to say that my favorite hobby right now is fly fishing. I love get out in and just be in God’s creation, and go fishing out in the mountains, and the fishing streams and fly fishing is a joy to me.
Probably the most beautiful place that I have ever been is fishing the Madison River in Montana.
How often do you go?
I try to go at least twice a year. Usually I go in the winter time during the off season when I get some time away from baseball. It’s kind of my get a way and it brings a lot of joy and peace in my mind and in my heart.
What kind of music to you like?
I like Christian music. My favorite band is Third Day. It’s great music and the message is very inspiring.
What do you do in the off season?
I try to train, lift weights to prepare for the season, try to do some fly fishing and then I get involved in my church back home. I go to St. James Catholic Church in San Diego and spend a lot of time with my family.
I wear shorts and flip flops every day. It’s enjoyable.
What is the best and worst part of your job?
The best part is playing a game that I love to play ever since I was a little boy. The worst part is being away from my family.
Who is the funniest guy on the team?
The funniest guy on the team this year is probably Jeremy Affeldt. He’s a left handed pitcher, he’s kind of goofy, he’s funny, he’s got a great sense of humor and he’s always able to laugh at himself.
The thing most people find interesting about me is….
Besides being a baseball player, I’m a man of God. I would rather have people know me as a man who loves Christ above being a great baseball player.
If you could live in any time in history when would it be?
Wow. I would probably live in the 60’s. I love that golden era of music. I love the 60’s and it was a time when my mom and dad were growing up and I think it would be very enjoyable to go to a couple of Beach Boys concerts and enjoy a nice uncomplicated world.
What was your greatest opportunity?
My greatest opportunity has probably been the chance to play pro baseball. I was given that opportunity at the age of seventeen years old and I’m still loving it every single day.
Can you tell me about your All-Star experiences?
I’ve been blessed to be in five All-Star games. It’s a great experience, you know, getting to play with the best baseball players in the world on one baseball field is a joy. Although a lot of people think that’s the best day in my life, the most joyful time in my life has probably just been living life being a man of God. The day I accepted Christ in to my life is definitely the most joyous time in my life, well beyond the five All-Star games and hitting .340 in the big leagues. My life is a joy because God gave me my life.
Ball players come in all shapes and sizes, personalities and skill levels. Many also have hidden talents. Such is the case with Chicago Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster. Not only is he an excellent pitcher, but it just so happens he does magic tricks and impersonations! Click on the link below to see my video interview with Ryan. He’ll have you in stitches!