What better subject for an Oregon Baseball Campaign
interview than one of Oregons best-known baseball stars, Scott Brosius? A
man born and raised in Oregon and who still calls the state home?
plan from very early on included getting a stamp of approval from
some of the regions most visible baseball stars, and Scott Brosius has
always been at the top of our list. Unfortunately, we werent the only
ones seeking an audience with Scott since his retirement from the bigs last
year. And for some reason, the little people who called Scott Daddy
took precedence over your friendly neighborhood baseball geeks at OBC. (If we
had called Scott that, he probably wouldnt have spoken with us at all,
but thats another story.) So rather than dog a man who had stated
publicly that he wanted to take some time off, we pursued other prey...until
now. It may have taken us a little longer to make contact with the Yankee third
baseman, but we think it was worth the wait.
Born in Hillsboro, Scott attended Rex Putnam High
School in Milwaukie and Linfield College in McMinnville, where he continues to
do volunteer work. He debuted with the Oakland As in 1991, but never made
his mark in the Bay Area. In 1998, however, when he was traded to the Yankees
for Kenny Rodgers, his career changed for the better. As he says, playing on
baseballs biggest stage was like a shot in the arm, and he completely
turned his game around, jumping from .203 to .300 in one year. His greatest
personal accomplishments on the field came during the 1998 World Series (when
he was voted the World Series MVP) and again in the 2001 World Series, with his
spectacular home run against Arizonas Byung-Hyun Kim.
For a man
who batted at the bottom of the lineup for the Yankees and yet stole the
spotlight from the teams stars in a number of spectacular World Series
moments, Scott is protective of his privacy, but he wasnt too busy to
talk to us about kids in the dugout. Or submarines, sushi, steroids, and
superstar salaries. He retired last year to spend more time with his family in
McMinnville in the heart of Yamhill County, Oregons wine country. Home to
the Spruce Goose and McMenamins Hotel Oregon, McMinnville is not unlike
its most famous citizen....
A cool guy on the hot corner.
Life after the
OBC: Its probably been years since
youve been home much during baseball season. How are you adjusting to
life after a Major League Baseball career?
Brosius: Life since I have been home has really felt
quite natural. We have stayed very busy, even busier at times than we thought
we would. We have been able to get much more active in our local church, and
anyone with kids playing sports understands the taxi service getting them
OBC: What do you most like about being a
former major leaguer?
Brosius: The thing I enjoy the most right now is having
no road trips. I just love being able to tuck my kids into bed each night and
feel like Im actively involved in their daily lives.
OBC: We just saw a number of players kids in the dugout in this
2002 World Series. Did you ever bring your kids to games? What was their
reaction? Was it, Ho-hum, this is where Dad works in October: Yankee
Stadium? Or did they understand the magnitude of where they were and what
you were doing?
Brosius: I think my
kids were young enough that they did not quite understand everything that was
going on. By my last couple of years, my oldest daughters knew what the World
Series was, but that was about it. Growing up in that situation, they never
knew anything different. So it was never a big deal for them to come to the
ballpark. It was all they ever knew. My son David just saw the players in the
clubhouse for what they were. They were just other players and friends of mine.
They would watch some of the games if the weather was nice, but mostly went
into the playroom to play with the other players children.
In the clubhouse
OBC: Your career really took off after you left the
As and went to the Yankees. Was there something different about playing
in New York that worked in your favor?
Brosius: Coming off a terrible year in Oakland, I saw
the trade to New York as a tremendous break and a great opportunity. After
years of losing in Oakland, it was energizing to know I was going to a team
that had a chance to win. To me, I always felt there was something different
about being a Yankee. With all the tradition and winning, it was like a shot of
adrenaline for me.
OBC: With two outs in the bottom of the
ninth of Game 5 of the 2001 World Series, you hit game-tying homer off
Byung-Hyun Kim, the Diamondbacks submarine pitcher. How do you pick up a
submarine ball compared to a natural over the top pitch? Is there a
set of standard release points that help you determine the type of pitch being
Brosius: The submarine
pitchers can be a challenge. It is definitely helpful to see as many pitches as
possible to pick up the release point. Most pitchers throw over the top, so you
are looking around their ear for the release point. With the submariner, you
look around the knees, and its not natural to do so at first.
OBC: After all you accomplished in MLB, what is your fondest
memory of playing in the bigs? Was it the late game heroics in the World
Series? Or was it something simpler like your first game or your first hit? Or
a great defensive play?
There are a few memories that stand out. A player never forgets his first game
in the major leagues. Its finally living that dream, so that is a special
one for me. The first World Series in 98 will always stand out for me.
The first time is always the most special, because you are finally doing what
every other player dreams of also. The other three trips to the series are also
special, as well as the All-Star game in 1998.
As a Major League Baseball player, you got to experience, on a regular basis,
what every red-blooded American male craves: Free food buffets. What was the
food like in the Yankee clubhouse? Did you guys pig out? What does a typical
MLB food platter look like?
The food was pretty decent most of the time. It was mostly takeout from the
local restaurants in the area, so we had our good days and our bad days. Most
of the time guys would eat for more of a snack than as a real meal, just enough
to last until we could get to the restaurant without starving.
OBC: Did they ever serve anything strange or exotic, like shawarma or
Brosius: We never had
anything real wild. Sushi was as far is it went. (And that was fine with
OBC: What would you say to college or minor league baseball
players who see the use of steroids as their only chance to break into the
Brosius: I would stress to
those players looking into steroids to think really seriously about what they
are doing. They are risking injuries and permanent health problems for
something that really doesnt improve their chances of getting to the
bigs. There are more players who dont use steroids than there are who do.
So using them is no surefire way of getting there.
OBC: Have you seen
things--suspicious things, such as a sudden dramatic increase from one season
to the next--that led you to believe a player might be cheating?
How does someone know when a player is juicing? What signs do you look
Brosius: The most obvious thing
for me to look at is weight gain. When I was in the minor leagues, I started
lifting seriously for the first time. I had a full six months off and lifted
six days a week and gained a total of 12 pounds. I couldnt have lifted
much harder than I did. When I see a player come back after a much shorter
off-season having gained 20 pounds or more, I know from personal experience he
needed help to do that.
OBC: Do you think
baseball will get more serious about drug-testing, or is this a topic both the
union and the owners want to keep low-profile?
Brosius: I dont know much about the latest
drug-testing agreement. I think it would be great if some of these players
would step up and volunteer to get tested. When they come out clean, that would
do wonders in cleaning up the image of the players.
OBC: You played for both the Athletics
and Yankees, two teams that seem locked at the opposite ends of the team
payroll scale, with the As on the low end and the Yanks at the top; yet
both teams have made it to the postseason several times in the last ten years.
And this year the low- to middle-salary Twins, As, Angels, and Giants
made the post-season. What does this say about the argument that only
high-salary teams can compete?
Brosius: While money is an issue, I dont think it
is the only issue that determines whether a team will win or not. There are
many teams with high payrolls who lose, while others with lower payrolls win.
So there must be some good decisions that go with the spending. I believe a
team will win only if the owners and management are committed to doing just
OBC: If its more of a management issue,
should small market teams pay more (attention and money) to their
managerial staffs than to free agents? If you dont have a lucrative TV
contract, you cant spend what you dont have.
Brosius: While there is no question some teams are
more limited than others, that is only part of the issue. The second involves
an owners willingness to win. Everybody talks about Steinbrenner and how
much money he has. Its true, he has a lot. But he also makes the decision
to spend it. His money is guaranteed through television deals just like with
other owners, so he could put it in his pocket if he chose to. Say what you
want about him, but he chooses to try to win.
Are you saying some owners choose not to win? That would explain the Orioles, I
Brosius: There are
owners out there who would rather lose games and guarantee money in their
pockets than spend money that is available. It is my understanding that certain
teams--the Expos for example--were spending less on players than they were
receiving in revenue sharing. They were taking the money and putting it in
their pockets. That seems to go against the idea of revenue sharing.
OBC: What is the feeling between superstars who make far above
the league average and those players who are just happy to get a cup of
Brosius: As far as
players are concerned, money is not as big an issue as people think. There are
always exceptions, but most take the attitude that if they do their job, then
the money will take care of itself.
OBC: Are players
just regular guys? How are they different (apart from their
physical talents) from the rest of society?
Brosius: Players are no different from anyone else. Most
have a level head on their shoulders, but some dont. Its that way
everywhere in society, but you only hear about the ones making
OBC: You could live anywhere, but you have obviously chosen
to stay in Oregon, where you grew up. Whats special about Oregon?
Brosius: The main reason I choose to live in
Oregon is because it is where I grew up and it is where my family and friends
live. I could live anywhere, but it would not be enjoyable without the people I
love around me.
OBC: Did you ever talk about the
state to teammates?
Brosius: I always
talk up Oregon to the other players. We only went as close as Seattle, but when
we got off the plane there, I would tell the guys to take a breath because they
were finally getting clean air!
OBC: Have you ever
invited them home or shown them around the state? What was their
impression of Oregon before they came and what about afterward?
Brosius: Only one player ever came with me to
McMinnville, and I got the feeling he enjoyed the area. But being from Southern
California, the pace was a little slow for him.
OBC: You pick up your cellphone to call
your wife to tell her youll be home late, but you somehow join a party
line with Bud Selig and a couple other owners instead. Bud mistakes you for
someone else and asks you, Well, Carl, which league should we put
Portland in--National or American? What do you tell him and why? Which
league do you think would be best, not only for the city and state, but for the
region as a whole?
Brosius: I guess
if Portland were to get a team, it would make more sense for it to be one from
the National League, but I dont think anyone would complain if an
American League team came to Portland! I think we would be thrilled to get any