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May 15, 2003

UNCUT Outtakes: Torii Hunter

DP climbs the centerfield fence with Torii Hunter

A condensed version of Dan Patrick's interview with Minnesota Twins center fielder Torii Hunter appeared in the April 14 edition of ESPN The Magazine

Torii Hunter
Torii Hunter doesn't want to dig in against the Big Unit.
DP:Whose job do you want? Any walk of life.
TH: I'd say Bill Gates. I'd like to take his job, you know, just sit back.
DP:Yeah, but I don't know if he really works. Do you want Bill Gates' job or do you want his salary?
TH: I want his salary. I don' think he works. He just sits at home and has other people work for him. But at the same time, he had to get there somehow.
DP:What's the worst job you had?
TH: Well, it wasn't actually a job. I worked on a weekend picking cotton to have a little money in my pocket. It was like fifty bucks a day for three hours.
DP:That's hard work.
TH: Yeah, that's real hard work.

DP:What's the best movie you've seen recently?
TH: The best movie I've seen recently? I haven't seen a movie in a while. "Monsters, Inc."?
DP:"Monsters Inc."?
TH: I have a little boy.
DP:Oh. What actor resembles your personality or looks?
TH: I think I can go with Denzel Washington.
DP:Oh, well that's big of you.
TH: Yeah, you know, kind of a ladies man but kind of a tough guy and a good personality.

DP:Who are you mistaken for?
TH: Jerry Stackhouse.
DP:People come up to you and say ...
TH: I look like Stackhouse.
DP:Is that a compliment?
TH: I hope so.
DP: When you see Stack on TV, do you say to yourself, "I don't look like him"?
TH: Yeah. No way I look like Jerry Stackhouse.

DP: What's the last concert you went to?
TH: Run DMC.
DP:Oh, that's old school.
TH: They were pretty good.
DP:How long ago was that?
TH: That had to be when I was like eight. I haven't been to a concert since then. As long as they keep making CDs, why spend my money listening to them suck on a microphone?
DP:Who is your favorite musician?
TH: My favorite musician would be Tupac Shakur. He's dead now but he's always coming out with albums. I try to figure out how but, you know, some things you just leave alone.

DP:What's your favorite TV reality show?
TH: Fear Factor, that's a good one.
DP:What are you afraid of? If you were on that show and they were going to bring something out, what would scare you?
TH: Snakes. Anything with snakes, poisonous or a grass snake. I'll faint.
DP:What is your biggest fear in life?
TH: Being a victim of the streets. And gunshots, fear of being shot.

DP:What's your biggest fear in baseball?
TH: My biggest fear in baseball is facing Randy Johnson.
DP:Have you faced him?
TH: No, I haven't.
DP:But is there a part of you that wants a piece of him?
TH: Yeah, I want a piece of him because if I hit him then that fear will go away. But right now, you know, seeing all the victims on TV, I don't want any part of that.
DP:So aside from Randy Johnson, give me two other pitchers you hate to face or you don't want to face?
TH: I don't want to face Tim Hudson or Pedro Martinez. Those guys own me.
DP:Have you sat down and tried to figure out why they own you?
TH: Probably because of all the hype. Once you hear their names so many times on TV and see how good they are and all the good things they do, you kind of build up fear. You put added pressure on yourself.

DP:What's the strangest thing you thought of when you were at the plate during an at bat?
TH: I can't wait to get down with my wife.

DP:Give me three outfielders you love to watch?
TH: Andrew Jones, Mike Cameron and Ken Griffey Jr.
DP:If you make a great catch, do you make sure to watch TV just to see how it looks? I mean, are you amazed sometimes at what you do?
TH: Sometimes. When an error comes on, I'm right there in front of the TV just to see how it really looks. Sometimes I ask myself what I was thinking? I dive and roll over or get a carpet burn or run into the wall, and sometimes I'm like, "I must be suicidal."

DP:You're from Pine Bluff, Ark., so who is your favorite Arkansan of all time?
TH: Bill Clinton.
DP: Did you meet Bill Clinton?
TH: No. But when I was going to Korea for the Goodwill Games I needed sponsors, so I wrote letters to most of the big-name people in Arkansas, and Bill Clinton was one of those guys. He sent me like a $50 check and told me good luck. He was the governor then. I needed $1,200 but he gave me $50.
DP: When he went through all that trouble, did guys give you grief?
TH: Oh man, did they ever.

DP:Your middle name, Kedar, where does it come from?
TH: It came from the Bible, Matthew, Chapter 25. He was the king and Abraham's nephew. My mom was reading her Bible before she had me and decided that was going to be my name.
DP:So would you prefer your first name was Kedar instead of Tory?
TH: You know what? It was Kedar. I don't know how it got changed to Torii. I was called Kedar in junior high and then in high school. Then one day everyone said "We're going to call you Torii.
DP: Who said that?we're going to call you Tory?
TH: My high school coach first, then the whole school got ahold of it. So I just went by Torii.

DP:Is 40-40 possible for you?
TH: Yeah, why not? I mean, I always shoot for the stars. If I don't make it, 30-30's not so bad.
DP:What's the difference between your offensive talents and A-Rod's offensive talents?
TH: There's a big difference. That guy is a flat out raker. We played together in the Junior Olympics in '92 and we were the youngest guys there, 16. And he came in with a wooden bat. I saw him hit with that bat and field balls between his legs in games and throw guys out, and I knew he was going to be the best player in the game. I went back and told everybody in my home town, "Hey, there's a guy named Alex Rodriguez out there, and he's going to be the best player in baseball."

DP:What was the most extravagant thing you bought when you made your first million?
TH: A house. I bought some land for my mother.
DP: How about something you'd never have spent money on before?
TH: I bought a Rolex.
DP:Was it a lot of bling-bling?
TH: It's a little bling-bling, not a lot. Just enough to where my wife would go, "Ooh, baby."
TH: did she want one too?
TH: Yeah, I should never should have bought it. Now she's all bling-bling.

DP:Randy Moss wants to play basketball to go along with football. Do you think you could play football?
TH: I think I can play football. I really can chomp some heads.
DP:What position would you play?
TH: I would be a DB or a quarterback.
DP:Do you think you could hurt some people?
TH: Oh, I think I really could hurt some guys.
DP:Like Randy Moss?
TH: Yeah, I'd love to stick him. He comes across me, I'll put it on him. He's too skinny. I'd have to break him in.

DP:What was the worst time during the whole contraction watch in Minnesota?
TH: Spring training was the worst time last year. We went to spring training and didn't know if we were going to have a team or not, but we have to go in there and approach spring training like we were going to have a season. But in the back of your head, you're like, "Man, we're not going to have a season."

DP:When was the last time a sporting event made you cry?
TH: When we lost the ALCS last year.
DP:You cried?
TH: Yeah, in my room. I didn't tell anybody.
DP:You didn't cry in the locker room?
TH: I'm too hard for that.
DP:You were afraid your image would take a hit if they saw you cry?
TH: Yeah, I got an image so I can't go be crying in the locker room. But when I got to the hotel, I cried.
DP:So your street cred would have gone out the window if you cried in the locker room? TH: Yeah, I would have lost my ghetto cred.

DP: What do you think heaven is like?
TH: Heaven is a place with no problems. You sit back, relax and enjoy everything. It's all enjoyment and excitement and the place you want to be. That's what heaven is like.
DP:What do you think hell is like?
TH: Hell is hot. Hell is very hot, a place with all problems and pain. Problems and pain. So don't go there.

DP:What's the one uniform you couldn't see yourself wearing, that just wouldn't look good on you?
TH: Montreal. It won't look good on me. I already tried on some pants and it wasn't good.
DP:Yeah, but what if Montreal was a great team?
TH: Still wouldn't look good.
DP:What uniform aside from the Twins' could see yourself wearing, based on how it looks?
TH: Texas Rangers.
DP: You live in Texas, so you're saying you wouldn't mind playing in the Texas Ranger uniform?
TH: Yeah, that's right. And I could see myself in a Yankee uniform, definitely.

DP:Who's your best friend on the Twins?
TH: My best friends on the team would be Jacque Jones and Eddie Guardado. We are always hanging out and fighting and arguing, but just like brothers you always come back together. So we always have arguments and we have a good time together.
DP:Give me the first baseman that you look forward to having a conversation with.
TH: That's Jason Giambi. We have the best conversations at first base.
DP: What are you talking about? You just got a base hit, you get to first ...
TH: Hey, how you doing? How's it hanging? Something about off the field.
DP: Do you think he's doing that to maybe decoy you?
TH: No, he can't decoy me because I'm always concentrating. I can say "Hi" a couple of times, ask how the family's doing, but I'm locked in while I'm talking to you.

DP: What rules can you bend?
TH: That's pretty tough for a position player. Pitchers are always the ones breaking the rules.
DP: Give me a percentage of pitchers who cheat.
TH: 30 percent.
DP: How do they cheat?
TH: They have pine tar in their belt, scuffed balls, everything. Think about it. They always go to their hats and the bills will have pine tar on it or whatever.
DP:But you don't want to be a tattletale.
TH: Yeah.
DP:Does that prevent you from saying, "Hey, that guy' cheating"?
TH: Not if I know he's cheating and we're behind.
DP:Yeah, but if you know a guy's out there scuffing and he strikes you out?
TH: At least I know he had to cheat to strike me out. If a guy's got to cheat to strike you out, then you're good.

DP: Who's the guy that you wouldn't charge the mound against?
TH: Nobody.
DP: Nobody scares you?
TH: No. Either you bet me or I beat you, simple as that.
DP: Give me some guys in baseball who you think could have a second career as a boxer.
TH: Mike Sweeney.
DP: Oh, really?
TH: He's a nice guy, I'm just joking.
DP: Well, you don't want to get him angry.
TH: I know. I've seen him put some dum-dums on people before.

DP:What sport has the best athletes?
TH: Football has the best athletes. They have a lot of energy and a lot of talent, football players.
DP: Yeah, but I could field a football team with basketball players. Imagine if I have Shaquille O'Neal, Karl Malone, Allen Iverson, Tracy McGrady and Kobe. You don't have anybody who could match that talent, that size. I mean, I'd put Shaq at fullback.
TH: Shaq? Man, they would break Shaq. He's too tall, he'd fall every time.All you gotta do is hit him in the legs.

DP:Who's your favorite Dallas Cowboy of all time?
TH: Emmitt Smith. But he's out now.
DP: Does that hurt your feelings? Are you bothered by that?
TH: Yeah, it's kind of a sin that they got rid of him, man. He should have retired as a Cowboy.

DP: What's the best part of a baseball game?
TH: When you take a home run away from somebody and see their face.
DP: Would you rather hit a home run or take one away?
TH: I'd rather take one away, definitely. It might happen once every three months, once a year, so I think it's very special.

DP: Did you know Bobby Knight gave back his salary?
TH: Really?
DP:Yeah, he said he didn't earn it. So he gave back $250,000. Could yourself see doing something like that?
TH: No chance. Oh man, would you do that at your regular job?
DP:No, I have a great year every year.
TH: Yeah, you do. But we work too hard, man. I'm from the ghetto, I need my money. I mean, I can help somebody else out with that.

DP: Do you want your son to grow up to be a baseball player?
TH: Whatever he wants to do, I'm with him. If he wants to become like Daddy and be a professional baseball player, I would be in his corner. But if he wants to go out and be a doctor, lawyer, anything except a janitor, I'm behind him 100 percent.
DP:So are you going to dedicate your life to golf soon and become the next Tiger Woods?
TH: Yeah, I think I'm going to dedicate my life to golf. I'm going to have what we call two-a-days. I'm going to have my workout in the morning and in the evening it's going to be all golf. So I'm going to come back and try to beat Jones and Guardado. They always act up when I swing. They're always laughing at me. So I don't like that too much.

DP:What's the best ballpark to play in?
TH: I would say Cleveland. When I came up it was Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, all those guys. Every time we played in Cleveland they sold out. When I get there I play well.
DP:What's your least favorite ballpark?
TH: My least favorite would be Oakland. Every time I go to there, I make errors. And they throw nickels, batteries, whatever they can find.
DP:You get hit with coins?
TH: Oh yeah, always. During the ALDS I ran off the field one inning with 55 cents. And the grass is messed up because they play football there.
DP: Is that hard to play knowing that's going on, that people are throwing things?
TH: Yeah. And then they get stuff off the Internet that you wouldn't think of, like you have a son named so-and-so and your wife is named this. But they hate it when you pick up the change. So I pick it up and put in my pocket.
DP:Do you declare that as income on your taxes?
TH: Yeah, that was part of my income, $1.50 of it.

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