Tribune staff reporter
2:09 PM EDT, September 24, 2007
Last year was a little bittersweet because you bust your butt for three years for a manager,you give it your all and don't complain,and you contribute so much in the regular season,then to have it taken away in the postseason (1) ... But managers are going to make their decisions.You really can't question them or change them because they're going to do what they want anyway. You have to go out there and work hard and be thankful for what you have.
My mom works for the Board of Education for New York City.She has a teaching degree and started off in that field. My dad owns his own check-cashing business in Brooklyn. They both preached hard work. They're both blue-collar-type people. They wake up every morning and go to work, and they provided a great life for me and my sister.
Never was a house kid, a computer kid or a video-game guy. I was always up at 8 in the morning, running around, trying to get as many kids out as I could.
We finished third in the world and second in the United States. (2) We lost to California on ESPN in the U.S. final. Then we beat Canada on ESPN in the third-place game. I threw a no-hitter that game, which was a huge accomplishment. It's something that at that time you compare to playing on the big stage of the World Series. It's still one of the finest memories in my life. Playing in front of that many people at that time in my life made me realize this is what I wanted to do with my life, and I was going to work my hardest to get it.
For my bar mitzvah,it was a baseball theme. My parents surprised me with a replica scoreboard of the game line from the Little League World Series when we played Canada and I threw the no-hitter.
The scoreboard had to be a good 15 or 20 feet wide by 15 feet tall. We kept it for a while, but it got too big for the house.
Don Mattingly was my favorite player growing up. You look back now and hear positive things about him. I had a chance to meet him. A first-class guy.
The day of the draft, we had a high school playoff game that I was pitching, so my mother stayed home to wait for the phone call and then showed up to the game in the second inning. Obviously, being on the mound and not knowing wouldn't be too good. So they relayed the message, (3) and I was excited. I don't remember the exact numbers,but we won the game because we ended up winning the city championship that year in Yankee Stadium.
Getting that first call (4) and running out to the mound,I promise you I didn?t feel my legs at all.I got to the mound, and it happened to be a night game, and that was really the first time you're playing under the lights that high, and it felt like you were in the spotlight.
He's probably the smartest baseball player I've ever met .(5) Really simplifies things.
It's really tough to teach what he has. It's a talent he was blessed with. But being that he could relay the message in easy, simple terms made it easy for a lot of guys to learn from him.
I have a John Burkett jersey.I learned a lot from him. He took me under his wing. A guy like Woody Williams, same type of guy. That's more important to me than a Barry Bonds ball. I've spoken maybe 10 words to him in my life. The other two mean more to me because of the impact they had on my career and where I am and where I'm going to go.
I'm married,have two kids. My daughter's 3, and my son is 1, and I'd have to say that's probably my biggest accomplishment to this point -- just watching your kids smile at you every day and knowing you have an impact on their lives, and hopefully I can raise them the way my parents raised me.
1: When the Cardinals left Marquis off the playoff roster and went on to win the World Series.
2: In the 1991 Little League World Series.
3:That he had been drafted by Atlanta in the first round in 1996.
4: When he made his major-league debut for the Braves against the Blue Jays in 2000.
5:Former Cubs and Braves pitcher Greg Maddux.
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