Do you have a question for a major league player?

It’s hard to believe we are already in August, and the season is winding down.  While a lot of good teams are in the running for the play-offs, it always gets exciting.

I will see the Cubs, Nats, Cards, Brew Crew, Pirates, and Atlanta making their rounds.  If you have any players you’d like to ask a question to, just shoot me an email at mlbkidz@yahoo.com or post it here.  We will do our best to get your question answered!

Tom Glavine – Mr. 300!

Congratulations to Tom Glavine, Glavine_2 who became the 23rd pitcher to  win 300 games.  He has been a real role model to young players coming up and those who hope to one day be just like him.  When I interviewed Tom, I was struck by not only how nice he was, but that he really took our interview seriously, and gave me the time I needed.  Thanks Tom! 

Tell me the best thing about playing baseball.

Well,  it’s fun, and the competition  of trying to get hitters out , and trying to be successful is the best.

Did you play any other sports besides baseball as a kid?

I played a little bit of everything, mostly baseball and hockey, but a little bit of soccer and basketball.

When did you begin playing baseball?Tom_glavin

I started play when I was seven years old in Little League.

What stadiums do you like to play in best and why?

I like to play in three.  Wrigley Field, Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium.  They are so rich in tradition and the history of all the great players that have played there.

What kind of music do you like?

Just about everything .  I like to listen to a little bit of everything.

Have you had any jobs besides baseball?

I worked in construction a little bit when I was in High School with my dad.  But that was it.

How do you feel about the strike zone?

I always wish it was bigger.  Pitchers always think it’s too small and hitters always think it’s too big, but I think as long as it’s consistent then it’s something everyone can work with and you find a way to be successful.

Do you have any hobbies?

I like to play golf and play around with my kids.

What’s the most embarrassing moment you’ve ever had?

I think there was one time in my first or second year in the league and I went up to bat and forgot to take the donut off the bat. 

What is one thing you don’t travel without?

My computer.  I like getting on there and checking things out, and e-mailing my friends and my family and my kids and stuff like that.

Who do you think is the best player in MLB?

The best player in baseball right now is probably Barry Bonds.  He is such a great hitter and really impacts the game more than anybody right now.

How would you complete the following sentence:  The thing most people find interesting about me is …

My dedication and determination.

Who influenced you most in life?

My mom and dad.  They were very supportive of me playing sports and they provided me with great lessons for my life.

What is the one thing that bugs you:

Long baseball games. 

If you could change anything about yourself, what would it be?

Probably be a little bit more outgoing and goofier. 

Sealed With a Kiss

They say a picture is worth a 1000 words – so here are several to enjoy with Craig Biggio’s 3000th hit!  It was a night to remember – and one for the books!Biggio_gives_daughter_quinn_a_kiss_after

Craig gets a kiss from his daughter Quinn, as well as from his wife Patty.Craig_biggio_kisses_wife_patty_while_dau

Biggio_connects_on_a_pitch_from_colorado Biggio connects for hit 3000

3000_sign_276

Together_again_biggio_and_bagwell BFF Jeff Bagwell was on hand for the festivities.Emtional_biggio_looks_at_the_3000_hit_si

An emotional Craig Biggio looks back at the 3000 hit sign as reality sinks in!  Congratulations Craig!

Biggio’s Countdown to 3000 Hits!

Houston Astros second baseman Craig Biggio Biggioastrosseattlestevejune_07_030 is on his quest for 3000 hits, and is only 8 shy.  Check out what he has to say about reaching this milestone, thoughts for the future, and some of his favorite things.

Biggio’s Countdown to 3000 Hits- Part 1

Countdown – Part 2 – and The Lighter Side of Biggio

A day in the life of Brewers GM Doug Melvin

by Michael McHugh

MLB.com/kids

Ever wonder what it would be like to be a General Manager for a major league baseball team? 

I know it takes a lot of hard work and dedication.  But what else does it take?  How hard is the job?  Could you do it?

What I learned is that their jobs are not easy, take lots of long hours, skill, patience and determination.

Brewers General Manager Doug Melvin Melvin_1shared what it is like for him on a typical day.

Mr. Melvin became the Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Milwaukee Brewers on September 26, 2002.  Prior to joining the Brewers, he was General Manager of the Texas Rangers, and before the Rangers he spent nine years in the Baltimore Orioles organization, and spent six years with the Yankees.

Mr. Melvin pitched for six seasons with the Pirates and Yankees organizations.

One of his greatest accomplishments was when he was GM of the Texas Rangers.  They had never won a division title and had not been to a playoff in 25 years. He helped them earn their first post-season appearance in 1996 and they won the American League Western Division title three times. 

He was raised in Ontario, Canada, and grew up a hockey fan and followed baseball.

He enjoys going to movies, and particularly likes some of the old classic movies, and enjoys listening to music, especially country and jazz. 

He has been married to his wife Ellen since 1978 and has a daughter Ashley and a son Cory.

MM:  Can you tell me about a typical day for you?

DM: One of the first things I do when I get to the office is to get all the news and highlights from the night before.  It can be by internet or daily newspapers.  I like to see if the media has written any stories on the Brewers and make sure to follow any of the other baseball news that is happening. I also check to see if I have any messages from the night before from the west coast teams because of the difference in our hours.  As a General Manager, it is your responsibility to check all facets of your baseball operations.  A typical day may include negotiating player contracts, scouting reports, study statistical data, review rosters and updates of the medical side of things.  It can become a full day.

MM: Did you have any special training?

DM: No, I didn’t.  I played six years in the minor leagues.  As a minor league player, I did not go to college.  The biggest thing that helped me was that I was surrounded with opportunities and good people and I listened to them and looked to them as mentors. I tried to grab as much information as I could by either asking questions or working hand in hand with them.  My mentor that probably had the biggest impact on my career was Roland Hemond, who was a GM for 38 odd years with the White Sox and the Baltimore Orioles.  I worked under Roland for eight years.  He prepared me for my GM positions.

The best preparation is to listen to experienced people that have been in the game, don’t try to think that you know everything, and be open minded.  It would be helpful to have a form of business background, but I wouldn’t trade my experiences that I had as a farm director, scouting director, assistant general manager, batting practice pitcher, or coordinator of scouting reports.  I was prepared through experience more that I was prepared educationally.

MM: What is the best and worst part of the job?

DM: The worst part of the job is dealing with player agents.  It’s a part of the game and you have to keep a good relationship with them, but it’s an uncomfortable situation because you’re dealing with your own employees and you prefer to sit down with your own employees to discuss their status whereas the agents’ interest is in the individual player.  He’s got a group of players that play for all different teams.

The best part is loving what you do.

MM: Who was the toughest person you had to sign?

DM: The Alex Rodriguez contract was a difficult signing because I knew it was going to have an impact on the rest of the industry.   That was a huge contract.  The owner and myself were involved in that.   

MM: Is your job stressful?

DM: At moments.  Whenever you lose ballgames it’s stressful.  Losses are tough to take.  Because you’re able to play everyday, you get back on the field. Whenever you have a losing streak, it’s always somewhat stressful.  You have to be patient.   

MM:

What do you do to make yourself better?

DM: I follow the other teams and read the papers.  There is a lot of reading in this business.  I continue to read books on management style and even though I’ve been in the game going on 33 years, there is always something to learn. 

MM: Any moves you wish you could take back?

DM: When I was with the Rangers, Pudge Rodriguez wanted a 10 year contract at $100 million dollars. That is when he was a young player. Looking back at it now, it might have been a decent deal with way salaries have gone up.  He may have remained a Texas Ranger the entire time, but at that time it was a very risky deal to make.  But, if you look at Pudge and where he is today, it might have been a deal that would have worked out.

MM: Any advice for kids wanting to become a GM one day?

DM: I would say you have to study the game and have a passion for the game.  You also have to have good people skills, be a good listener, be able to delegate and follow up.  The GM’s job is what the title says – you manage people.  When you get a job in baseball, there’s no job too big for you.  Don’t be afraid to do any job.  Eventually you can work in to bigger and better things.

Search and you can find your professional sports role models

by Michael McHugh

MLB.com/kids

A role model is a person who sets a good example for others.  The way they act, the way they demonstrate their values or the way they play hard at their sport are all positive influences.   Kids of all ages idolize sports figures from high school to the pros, and want to emulate those athletes.

These days, a lot of pro athletes make headlines for the wrong reasons.  But there are plenty that get it right, and for those who do, they have a loyal following.

Just ask thirteen-year-old Sean McHugh, of Nashville, Tennessee.  In 2004, Sean’s dad Dan, took him to Los Angeles to see the LA Lakers take on his favorite team, the San Antonio Spurs.  It was his first in-person NBA experience, having only seen Tim Duncan and company on TV.  It had him hooked, and last month, Sean’s parents gave him another surprise, a birthday trip to Houston, to see the Spurs take on the Houston Rockets.

In 1997, while watching the World Series between the Florida Marlins and the Cleveland Indians, by brother Zach, who was in second grade at the time, latched on to a young new player, Craig Counsell,Craig_3  the Marlins rookie second baseman.  There was really no rhyme or reason.  He just liked his scrappy play, and a hero was born. Zach wrote letters to Counsell after the series, but of course, it was the off-season, and the letters went unanswered, surely lost in the piles and piles of fan mail the team would get.

He wasn’t discouraged.   When the 1998 season kicked off,  the Marlins made their way to Houston.  My mom took Zach to the game and he stood behind the dugout with other loyal fans, hoping to get an autograph, or a glimpse of his new found idol.  He came prepared, armed with a Sports Illustrated World Series issue, a baseball, and a Sharpie. Counsell signed the magazine for Zach, and chatted briefly before the game began.  That kind gesture was everything to my brother, who jumped on the Counsell bandwagon, hook, line and sinker.

A couple of months later, while watching the Marlins play Houston on TV , Zach watched in horror as Counsell was struck in the jaw by a fastball from Houston’s C. J. Nitkowski and sustained a compound fracture of the inner jaw, ending his season.

Zach wrote Counsell Astrosbrewers_game_2_2apr_07_029 numerous letters offering his sympathy and support, sent him a gift, and a care package to help him through the rough times.  Counsell didn’t forget his favorite fan in Houston and hand wrote Zach a note, on Marlins stationary, thanking him for his support and for being such a big fan.  A friendship developed, and the two corresponded with each other during the off-season.   Zach received an invitation to the Marlins spring training camp in Viera, Florida, in 1999 and the whole family made the trip.  It was a memorable one for us all.  It was also an experience Zach would never forget. Zach is now 17 and still makes his way to the ballpark to say hello to Craig when he comes to town.  That one gesture made a liftetime memory for my brother, who will forever be Counsell’s biggest fan.

For Sean, an avid basketball and Duncan fan,  his recent trip to Houston was one he won’t forget either.   Besides having great seats in the middle of the action on the floor, he was also able to talk to his favorite Spurs, including Manu Ginobili,Dsc00981_3   with whom he had is picture taken, and get some autographs on a basketball he brought along before the game.   

“It was a phenomenal opportunity to come and see some of my favorite teams in the NBA play against one another,” said Sean, who just happens to love the three Texas NBA teams. “It was so exciting.”

Tim Duncan is a great role model for young fans.  I love watching him use his sound fundamental skills.”

After the game, I talked with Duncan, and told him about his young fan who had flown to LA and now Houston from Nashville, just to watch them play.  He stared at me as if in disbelief, and shook his head.

“That’s awesome, and unbelievable,”  said Duncan.  “I’ve never actually heard of that and that’s a cool thing to hear, that I’ve got fans all over the place.    I can sure remember 14 years ago coming in here as a professional, not really knowing what to expect and people have really embraced me over the years.  I think that’s awesome.”

Duncan seemed genuinely touched that someone held him in such high regard.

Asked if he had any advice for his young fan, who loves to play the game himself, Duncan replied, “Play a lot.  There is nothing like experience.  People talk about practice and everything and that’s great, but you can play a lot of pickup basketball and you need to find different people to play.  That’s the only way to get good.”

Guys like Counsell and Duncan are great role models, for all the right reasons.  Besides their tremendous abilities in their sport, both give of their time and money to charity work, and conduct themselves in a respectful manner, both in and out of the spotlight.  They are also grateful for their fans, and appreciate their loyalty.

As for Sean, he left Houston happy and loaded with memories, and is already looking forward to another road trip, and his next NBA experience. 

“It’s been a great experience and fantastic weekend,” he said.  “I can’t wait to do it again.”

Craig Counsell Q&A

STAY TUNED TO MLB.com/Kids for the video interview!!!!

MM:  Who influenced you most in life and why.

CC:  My parents, for sure.  They’re the ultimate role models, so my parents were the biggest influence

MM::  What is one thing in your locker that would shock people to know?

CC:  I don’t have anything crazy in there.  Just the normal stuff.

MM:  If you were stuck on an island, which of these things would you want with you. A good book, a good movie or a good CD?

CC:  I’d probably have a good book.  It would last longer.

MM:  What book?

CC:  I’d take a long one.

MM:  Who would you consider to be your biggest fan?

CC:  (laughs) That’s a loaded question.  I can’t say one person, but I have a lot of great fans, and their support is great and I’m glad they enjoy watching me.

MMHave things changed for you now that you’re a dad?

CC:  It’s changed quite a bit.  It’s a great thrill and it’s wonderful, and it changes your perspective in what things you consider important.  I love it every day being a father.

MM:  What do you consider as your greatest strength as a player?

CC:  Probably defense.  Astrosbrewers_game_2_apr_07_146 I can play a bunch of positions so probably just kind of being versatile for the manager to be able to go to a couple different positions.

MM:  What would you have done for a job if you weren’t a baseball player?

I’m not sure.  I haven’t had to find out yet.  I went to college and have a degree in accounting, so maybe something like that.

MM:  Do you feel there is a great responsibility being a role model?

CC:  I think it is a responsibility, but if you are a good person and you try to live your life as a good person, then everybody’s a role model.  That’s how I think of it.

Williams Excited About New Season

The Houston Astros have added a new arm to their rotation, and it belongs to Woody Williams.Williams_2

Williams, 40, spent the last two years with San Diego, where he was 12-5 with a 3.65 ERA for the Padres.  He was one of eight National League pitchers to record eight or more wins after the All-Star break.  The Houston native, who is thrilled to be playing for his hometown team, took time during his busy off-season to talk with MLB.com/kids.   

Check out what he had to say!

Michael McHugh:  As a kid did you ever think you would be in the major leagues playing for the home town team?

Woody Williams:  No, I never did.  It was always one of my dreams, and I am happy to be home playing for the home team.

McHugh:  You had a good win loss record with the Padres last year.  12- 5 with a 3.65 ERA. Did you feel it was a good season for you, and was there any reluctance to leave San Diego?

Williams:  I did feel it was a pretty good season and I would like to win a few more ball games this year but there was really no reason I left San Diego other that the opportunity to pitch for the Astros. 

McHugh:  Any significance to wearing # 29 for the Astros?

Williams:  No, no significance.  The numbers that I wanted were taken and that was one that appealed to me.

McHugh:  With Andy Pettitte moving on to NY and Roger Clemens still up in the air about what he will do this season, did it in the least bit disappoint you to learn Andy moved on?  How are you feeling about the rotation this coming season?

Williams:  I am really excited about the rotation.  I think we are going to do well.  It’s hard to lose Andy Pettitte, and the uncertainty of Roger, but I think we are still going to be ok. 

McHugh:  What is the best team pitching rotation you have played on?  I am thinking when you were in Toronto.   

Williams:  Yes, Toronto, or maybe even St. Louis.  In Toronto, it was myself, Roger Clemens, Juan Guzman, Pat Hentgen and Chris Carpenter. 

McHugh:  When you were moved from a reliever to a starter in 1997, was that a hard transition for you to make?

Williams:  No, it was really easy because all through the minor league that’s what I did, I started.  So I was ready and wanting to do that.

McHugh:  What was it like for to you to be in an All-Star game (2003)and a World Series (with St. Louis in 2004)?

Williams:  It was incredible.  It’s the whole reason we play baseball, to pitch or play in a World Series.  It was a fun time.  Playing in an All-Star game was a nice experience.

McHugh:  What do you consider to be your best pitch?

Williams:  It really depends on the day.  Sometimes it’s my fastball, but location is so important. 

McHugh:  What’s it like to throw a knuckle ball?  Do you use that pitch much in games?

Williams:  I don’t use it too often , and I work on different things.  Anything that makes me better, I’ll try it.

McHugh:  Being you are from the Houston area, is your family excited to be back home and close to the ballpark?

Williams:  Oh yes, they are very happy to have me play here.

McHugh:  What do you do for relaxation in the off season?

Williams:  Spend time with my family, and that’s about it.  It’s real simple.  It’s an opportunity to be with my kids and my wife. 

McHugh:  Who do you consider the best hitter and the best pitcher in the majors today?

Williams:  The best right handed hitter, Albert Pujols, and the best left handed hitter, Lance Berkman, and the best pitcher, Roy Oswalt.

McHugh:  Do you have any organizations in Houston you hope to work with?

Williams:  I work with Special Olympics and I am involved in my church.

McHugh:  What has been your most memorable baseball moment?

Williams:  I think the first time I was able to pitch in the major leagues and being called up to the majors for the first time. 

Spring Time is Baseball Time

There’s nothing that can put the pep in your step more than knowing spring training is in full swing, and another great season is only weeks away.

While the comings and goings this season haven’t been too surprising, we all still wonder (at least fans of Houston, Yankees and Red Sox) where Clemens will pitch this season.  I really don’t think it’s a matter of "if", but "where".  He still has too much left in the tank to call it quits yet, and I think he seems to be enjoying himself quite a bit working out with the younger players on the Astros roster, and pitching to the veterans who need him. 

I hope Josh Hamilton has finally put his past behind him, faced his demons and won his battle with addiction.  What a great comeback story.  Let’s hope he brings it all back!

One on One with Cubs catcher Michael Barrett

Whats the best thing about playing baseball?Michael_barrett

I think just being on a team and having a goal to win and watching everyone participate and come together from all over the world.  To come together and have a common goal to win, that’s a lot of fun.

Did you play anything besides baseball growing up?

Yes,  I played a lot of football and basketball from the age of four all the way to high school. 

What kind of music do you like? 

I grew up listening to country music but now I like to listen to just about everything.  I like everything from classical to rap. I like it all.

What do you do in the offseason?

I like to do a little hunting and a little fishing and I like golf, whatever the weather permits, and hang out with my family.

Where do you live in the offseason?

I live in Atlanta GA

Whats the best and worst thing about this job?

It’s constant traveling , and you’re always away from home.  It’s  tough on families, on moms and dads, on marriages and its tough because you have to be away from them a lot.

Do you do anything special before a game?

Not really.  Every time I  catch I try to get with the pitcher before the game and come up with a strategy so that when we get in the game , we have less focus on what we’re going to do, and more on how we’re going to do it.

If you could change one thing in baseball what would it be?

The DH,  I’m not a big fan of the DH.

If you had been stuck on an island, who would you choose to have with you?

My wife, because I love her.

If they made a movie about you who would you want to play you?

Brad Pitt, because he’s a pretty good actor and the ladies seem to like him a lot.

What is your most memorable clubhouse moment?

My first day in the big leagues.    When I saw the big league jersey with my name on it in the locker for the first time, it was the best thing ever.

Name someone you would like to meet…

President Bush.  I have a great deal of respect for him and he is the President and I just think he is the most powerful man in the world right now.

If you could take a vacation with any of these people, who would you pick?   Leno, Letterman or Will Smith. 

I’d say Letterman.  He’s funny. I like Letterman a lot. I think he’s the funniest guy on tv right now.

Do you ever get tired of squatting?

Sometimes.  We had a 15 inning game and  by about the 13-14 inning your legs start to get tired and start to hurt a little bit and it’s tough to walk back to the dug out .

While catching, what is the funniest conversation you’ve had with a batter or umpire?

I always try to have fun with the umpires to keep things loose, as free up and as less tense as you can, so when the big play is on the line everyone is relaxed and he can make the right call.