You guys have great questions. Makes writing this blog easy because I don’t have to think of topics myself . . .
How did the nickname Huff Daddy come about?
When the singer Puff Daddy hit the charts in the early 90s, I was in high school in Texas. Somebody just said “Huff Daddy” one day and it caught on. People have been calling me that ever since.
What do you like about living in SF?
I like that there are a lot of Mom and Pop places. You go to big cities and all you see are Morton’s and Flemings and all the chain restaurants. But so many of the restaurants and shop are unique to this city. So you’re never bored. There’s a sense of discovery every time you go out. And you feel connected to the people who own the restaurants and stores. We live up by Fillmore Street in Pacific Heights. We go out our door and there’s everything you could want — from Asian food, Mexican, pizza. And all the interesting shops. We live in a great house and we love it – but it’s costing us, let me tell you. I’ve never see anything like the rental and real estate prices here. Wow. For a boy from Texas, it’s pretty eye opening. In the off-season, we live in Tampa.
What did you major in at the University of Miami?
Like everybody else, I majored in business management. I’d say baseball but that wouldn’t look good.
What do you think of Wilson’s orange shoes and the fine?
I loved his shoes. I think it would be a kick if everybody on the team wore those shoes on Orange Fridays. I understand the league has to have rules, but this is one rule I don’t understand. Who cares what he’s wearing on his feet as long as it’s not distracting to the hitter? And really, if you’re a hitter and you’re looking at Brian Wilson’s shoes while you up at the plate, you shouldn’t be in the big leagues.
How long were you in minors before you thought you had a chance to reach the big leagues?
You always wonder every time you move up to the next level of competition, whether it’s from high school to college, college to the pros, if you’re good enough to make it. When I got drafted out of the University of Miami, I joined Tampa Bay’s High-A club. The draft is late enough that you join the pros for just the second half the season. That meant, of course, switching to a wooden bat and playing just about every day. I hit .321 with 13 homers and had about 50 RBIS in half a season. I felt right there, that first year, “I think I’ve got a shot.”
What do you see yourself doing after baseball?
I don’t think anyone will be surprised by my answer here. I’d like to do radio or television. I enjoy talking about baseball and I think I have a pretty interesting perspective on things. As everyone knows, I have no problem saying what I really think. My agent has a program that helps train players to make the transition into broadcasting. I can’t see ever leaving baseball completely. You play this game so long it becomes a part of who you are. I can’t see how you wouldn’t want to stay in it. As an athlete, you play until you’re 35 or 40 – if you’re really lucky – which means you still have half your life to live. You’ve accumulated all this knowledge and all these stories about the game, so it just makes sense that you’d want to share them.
What do your friends call you?
In the clubhouse, it’s mostly Huffy. But Huff Daddy is catchier.
When you have free time in clubhouse, what are you doing?
Before a game, I like to talk trash to the guys. You rip on guys and have some fun. We don’t talk too much baseball before the game. Everybody’s just BSing and doing their own thing to get ready. After the game, that’s when we talk baseball. You have a few beers and go over situations that happened in the game. You talk to teammates about what you were thinking in a certain situation – or what you should have been thinking. You want to go over things that might help you in the future if that situation comes up again. You’re constantly getting feedback from other people and constantly learning. You can never know everything, which is what makes this game so interesting and why I can’t see myself ever leaving it.
What’s the deal with the short hair and what happened to your mustache?
I had a goatee going, and on the last road trip I was trimming my mustache and accidentally went too far and had to shave the whole thing off. I found that I liked it, so I’ve kept it that way. As for my buzz-cut: during the season I don’t have time for a barber. I’ve got a two-year-old and a pregnant wife. When I’m at home I want to be with them. I don’t want to go spend an hour with a barber. So I just cut it myself.
What are your favorite meals before and after a game?
I don’t eat before a game because it makes me feel weighed down. I have lunch around 1 or 1:30 p.m. then don’t eat again for about 10 hours, until after the game. I’ll eat chicken and pasta usually — get the carbs back in and some protein.
First-basemen and base runners always seem to chat at first base. What are you saying?
It depends on who it is. If it’s a guy you like, you’re just kind of BSing, talking trash. You might talk about the at-bat he just had. If he’s a friend, you might ask if he wants to get a cocktail after the game. If it’s a guy you don’t like, you hope he doesn’t get on base. And if you don’t know the guy at all, you don’t say anything. No reason to.
What is the funniest prank you’ve seen?
There have been a lot but the one that comes to mind happened in Baltimore. John “T-Bone” Shelby was deathly afraid of snakes. When he opened the door of the cubbyhole in his locker, a fake snake suddenly unfurled and fell out. T-Bone jumped and fell backward. I thought he had a heart attack. That was a pretty good one.
How did you come to pick “Stayin’ Alive” for the song when you come to bat?
When we were in Atlanta, the song came on the play list in the clubhouse. Barry Zito knows I like the Bee-Gees. He said, “Huffy, this should be your song.” I said, “I do love this song.” He said, “Just think of walking to the plate to this song in San Francisco.” I was sold.
See you at the park – and keep the questions coming.