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Barbara Terry interview with Mike Piazza

When you think of Mike Piazza, you think of the all-time home run champion for Major League Baseball catch­ers, hitting 400! You think playboy, because of his good looks and success. You think of a 12-time all-star during a career that is likely to end up getting him into the Hall of Fame. You don’t necessarily think of a family man and a guy that’s hip on car dealerships.

All right Mike, let’s start with the very beginning. What was your first car?

I believe it was a, yes, it was a ’72 Nova. It was kind of neat. It had the air shocks in the back with the air hose. It was red. My father was in the car business so we always had a plethora of cars. I even had an IROC Z.

What motor did you have in the IROC Z?

I don’t even remember. I think it was the larger motor. The sport with t-tops and stuff. That was standard issue in high school for me. What else did we have? We had a bunch of stuff. Like I said, the good thing about being in the car business was that you get so many trade-ins. I mean, my first job was when I was 12 years old, washing cars down at my dad’s car lot. So I was driving around the parking lot when I was 14. I’ve always loved cars and it is such a big part of my fami­ly history.

Your dad’s dealership, was it a used car dealership or was it a franchise?

My dad started with used cars and then he was one of the first Datsun dealers in this country in 1968,1 believe, which is now Nissan. Then he eventually went into Honda. He got a Honda franchise, and the gas crunch hit in the ’70s. They did really well for him, especially in the last year or two, as there’s been a big push for hybrids because of the gas prices. Remember, back in the ’70s, there was a gas crunch and people were lin­ing up for gas? Do you know what I’m talking about?

Mike, I was not pumping gas in the ’70s, so I do not remember that!

There was this gas crunch in the ’70s and people were waiting for gas. I don’t know if it was OPEC or what.

Each station had a certain allotment of gas per week and when they sold out, they were done. So, the point is, there was a rush on Hondas. They were selling hun­dreds and hundreds of Hondas a month based on what was going on with gasoline.

Cars are cool.

No, they are very cool. It’s a part of Americana. Like the way horses were in the 1800s and horseless carriages were in the 1900s. There’s something about America and its vastness and the freedom it offers, you know.

People love to drive with the top down. It gives them a sense of freedom, it’s what the United States is, where­as, in Europe, the towns are laid out in a communal sense. You have the plaza orthe piazza and the church.

You could walk to church or walk to breakfast or walk to coffee. This country is a little more based on the automobile. I’m going off on a weird tangent here.

That’s okay (ALL LAUGH). You mentioned you were driving at 14. How old were you when you got your dri­ver’s license?

Seventeen.

Why were you 17 and not 16?

Because my dad wouldn’t let me drive. He thought if I drove at 16, that I wouldn’t be as focused on baseball.

Ohhhhh.

Yeah. I think it goes back to what I was saying. You’re rebellious at that time. I think if I got my license at 16,1 would have been too worried about cruising for girls instead of baseball.

That’s what we all did at 16.

Yeah, but I remember him telling me,’If you get to the Major Leagues, you’ll have all the cars you want and all the girls you want but you have to get to the Major Leagues first’ I remember him saying those words, so, again, I have to thank him for that.

Your dad was very insightful and correct regarding his beliefs in your future career.

He was right, so maybe, again, I have to thank him. In his defense, too, I was a very aloof, free-spirited kid. It all worked out, as you can see.

Okay, so you got your driver’s license when you were 17 and you had a Nova. Can you tell me more about the Nova. Was it a trade-in at your dad’s dealership?

Yeah, it was a trade-in. I actually think a friend of his had it and then I drove it for a few months. I really only had it for a couple of months, then I just started looking around at other cars. I would be at my dad’s dealership when a trade- in would come in and would drive the salesmen crazy because they wanted to resell all of the trade-ins, but I wanted dibs on some of them.

This is how I got my IROC. It was funny because I remem­ber that car, being as I have an affinity for those late-’60s muscle cars – the Camaros, the GTOs, the Chevelles. I love watching auto auctions on TV. I think it’s cool. But I’m more into the one-off classic car look with a new car vibe. I’m not big into the whole complete reproduction, which I think is cool, but I like the newer versions of the old car.

Of course! Like the new Camaro and/or the Challenger coming out. What do you think about the Saleen Mustangs?

I think they’re cool cars. I’m not a huge Ford aficionado. Obviously, some people are Ford and others are Chevy. There are a few Fords that I like, but I was always big on GM – a little bit of MOPAR and I like the Chargers. I watched The Dukes of Hazzard as a kid and those are cool cars. Some guy here locally has a beautiful Charger. He’s trying to sell it and keeps reducing the price.

How fast have you gone in a street car?

It’s pretty funny. I had a ’97 Mercedes S-600 in California when I played with the Dodgers. It’s so funny, but I don’t want to tell it. A friend of mine is a guy named Eddie Braun – a Hollywood stunt man. He has crashed cars his whole life. He’s Charlie Sheen’s stunt double and I met him in California. He’s huge. So I had this, not the SL, but the S, the 600, the two-door with aftermarket 19-inch Pirellis. I just remember we were going down the 405 with no traffic, about 11:30 in the morning. Eddie kept telling me to step on it so we could see what it could do. So I hammer it down. This car was a monster, the V12.1 look down and I’m doing 120, and I blow right by a C.H.I.P.

No way.

Yeah. He pulls me over. He comes up to the window. He says, ‘License and registration.’ Then he says, “Where you going so fast, Mike?’ Just like that. Apparently he recog­nized’ me. I was playing for the Dodgers, so I was some­what recognizable, I guess, and my buddy Eddie said, ‘Officer, I’m a stunt guy. It’s my fault. I encouraged him. I said let’s see what this can do.’ He was totally trying to help me out and this guy goes, ‘Do you know this girl?’ He just started to make small talk and didn’t give me a ticket. I told him, ‘Officer, I never drive like this – wide open road, not a truck in sight – so I opened it up.’ I don’t want to say that’s an excuse, but this was the most safe condition where you could actually do that. This was so straight, at a point after Laguna Beach, where you could see for five miles. I ham­mered it and never felt anything like it It was, like, 120. That’s it -11:30 in the morning and I got pulled over.

It’s too tempting not to feel the rush of the speed when you have perfect conditions.

I’m not advocating breaking the law, but you’re right. I find it hard to believe that someone in the middle of Montana in the summer with five lanes and no cars… again. I’m not saying it’s okay, but, if you’re going 100 miles an hour, nobody’s going to notice.

I love coming to Florida. It is so laid back here.

Yeah. There are so many cars out there now, it really is dangerous. You don’t know. In Florida, a cop told me 20 per­cent of the drivers are over 80.

Oooooh!

That’s one in five over 80. With that statistic, you have to be careful. You have to drive defensively.

It should always be about safety and safety first.

Yeah. Now I have Cheerios on the floor of my Mercedes.

Do you ever see yourself owning a hybrid; don’t you want to go zero to 60 in 30 minutes?

That’s a good question. The Escalade – isn’t that the biggest contradiction-the Escalade hybrid. It’s like having a huge golf cart.

Yeah. You don’t have the horsepower like you would with a big V8 gas engine, so do not expect to really be able to punch it.

Until they really perfect the technology of some kind of alternative fuel, whether that be the hydrogen cell or the hybrid, I think I will stick with my current cars.

Have you heard about the Tesla?

Yeah, the four-door they’re now making. I just had the Car and Driver that it was in, and that’s a pure plug-in car, right?

Yes, and it does have quite a bit of umph and get-up- and-go!

No, I don’t doubt that. I think the question is, again, if you plug it into the wall, you’re still using some form of fossil fuel – some coal plant or whatever – unless it’s nuclear. I don’t know. I have no problem with alterna­tive fuels. I think it’s cool and there is a market for that one day. I don’t think you’ll ever get the gas-fueled combustible engine out of the Americana, as it is in our blood. Of course, you can tone it back. If you have a Prius you take to work every day, that’s fine. I don’t have a problem with that. I’m not saying you always have to have a Ferrari or a Mercedes, but I think there is an affinity for a combustible engine in this country. I don’t ever see it subsiding.

Well, it can’t totally. For instance, you take the South, you take construction workers. They’re never going to work out of a Prius. They need a truck. They’ll have to have their three-quarter and one-ton pick-up trucks to use for their careers, to make a living.

You’re right. It’s like when I travel; I take the babysitter and my wife, my daughter and the luggage and her coach and other stuff. So I have to call for an SUV to pick us up at the airport. Am I going to take two Priuses? We’re a traveling culture, we’re a driving culture and I think alter­native fuels are great. I think they should be pursued and perfected. I think it would be great to pull up and get hydro­gen. It would be cheaper. I just don’t want to end up like the Hindenburg. I don’t want to blow up.

(LAUGH) When you first got signed to a big contract what was the car that you went out and grabbed up?

That’s a good question. I would say, not when I first got signed, but that Mercedes was like my first toy car, that two-door.

Now you have a Mercedes and a Range Rover. What other cars have you owned?

Living in New York, I always had an affinity for Mercedes. I had one of the first BMW 7 Series in this country-the new 2002, black 745.

You know not to buy the first year of any new model. Why’d you do that?

Because I wanted it. Because I wanted to be the first to have one.

They had a series of mechanical problems with that new body 745 in 2002, so your car probably spent more time in the shop than in your garage, right?

Yeah. I don’t follow suit with most people. Usually you’re either a BMW guy or a Mercedes guy. I like them both. I think the BMW 7 Series is a great driving car. My Mercedes S-550 I have now is a great car. I think there’s something to be said about German engi­neering. The doors shut more crisply.

Nice luxury suspension. There’s a butt for every seat. That’s why so many manufacturers stay in business – because we all have different tastes.

I couldn’t agree more. It’s like with wine – there’s French wine, a little more European, a little smoother. There’s California wine, a little more robust; Cabernet, out-of-the-barrel drinkable, a little smoother. I think that’s the cool thing, and I’m into being all over the map. If I see a car and I like it, then I will buy it. I don’t stick to a genre.

Do you have your eyes on a particular vehicle now?

Yeah. I want the four-door Lamborghini, black exterior with parchment/tan interior or the silver. I just don’t know if I want to pay $400,000 for a car.

A four-door Lambo?

I think it’s cool. I have to have a baby seat in the back.

I can’t have a two-door anymore. When you have kids, your whole life changes.

What has been your favorite car from the get-go?

That’s a good question. That’s like picking a favorite fla­vor of ice cream, a favorite candy.

You probably have a certain passion for each car that you have owned.

I was never a huge Porsche fan. It’s sort of smaller and I’m a bigger guy, so it’s tough for me to get in. I’ve always liked larger formatted cars with four doors, and with that said, yeah, it’s fun driving a Ferrari. I was actually considering getting the, you remember the 456 GT automatic Ferrari. When it first came out it was the first automatic car that I can recall. It had a front engine, so it was kind of a cool car.

I see you cruising down South Beach in a Bentley Arnage.

The Bentley Arnage. Maybe the Silver Spur, but I don’t know about the Arnage. I would have to say that this is the largest collection of Bentleys in the world, in South Beach. There’s no question. It’s funny, you pull up to a hotel and you expect special treatment with a Bentley. I have a friend and we joke. We’re, like, There’s anoth­er Bentley and another Bentley. There’s another Bentley.’ Yeah, when those first came out, they were all over the place. But look how Bentley got in that market, that higher-end luxury market in the U.S.

SUVs, without a doubt give you a sense of security by being elevated.

Oh my God, you just want a fighting chance if, God for­bid, you get in an accident. There’s something to be said about that. With a lot of cars in America, there are also a lot of bad drivers…really bad drivers. I now think, as a parent, your priorities shift. You kind of become more evolved. I want my daughter in a nice safe Mercedes with something around her.

What Mike was most proud of was his wife, daughter and family. He seemed to be at a very happy place in his life, improving his dream homea renovation project he began as soon as he retiredand building a family.

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athletes, baseball, boxing, Dallas Cowboys, fast, football, golf, nascar, olympics, WWE

Barbara Terry interview with Arnold Palmer

Arnold Palmer Is known as ‘The King’ for many reasons. He was king of the golf world for years, being the first man to reach a million dollars in earnings; and having won seven majors throughout his career, includ­ing the Masters four times fbetween 1958 to 1964); the U.S. Open in I960; and the British Open in 1961 and 1962. He is the king of charity, too, having won numerous humanitarian and golf achievement awards over the years. He is also king of the business world, as he’s an excellent entrepreneur, helping found the Golf Channel and owning successful car dealerships

Arnold’s choice in his Cadillac dealerships is a perfect fit for him because, in reality, he’s the Cadillac of golf. He has set the pace that Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods have followed and driven themselves to break. Arnold was very enjoyable and informative, and very passionate about aviation throughout the course of this interview.

What was your first car that you owned?

You don’t want to go back that far.

I do if you do.

Well, the first car I had was a two-door Ford sedan, and it was a 1949.

Okay. Did you buy it with your own money or was it given to you?

I bought it with my own money, as I have with every car or every mode of transportation that I have ever had.

Let’s start off with airplanes and your fascination with flying. Then we can get into your history with cars, other modes of transportation and your car dealer­ships.

When I was very young I went on a golf trip to play a tournament as an amateur. It was a DC3, which was a mode of transportation in those days. I flew through a thunderstorm on my way to Chattanooga, Tennessee. It scared the life out of me. I saw things I had never heard of and I didn’t know what was happening. So, having been scared, I decided that, in my life, I was probably going to do a lot of flying and traveling. That was going to be very important to my destiny.

As soon as I got home, I decided I was going to learn more about aviation and traveling. As the years went by, I studied and worked on learning more about avia­tion, and the first year that I became a professional and I had enough money, I started adding to that by taking flying lessons. Time went on, and within two years, I had a private license and started flying by myself to various exhibitions and tournaments. I found that, in doing that, it afforded me the opportunity to do my work-meaning play golf-and do exhibitions. And it allowed me to spend time with my family. I would go out in the morning, for example, play an exhibition, do the things I needed to do and then fly home at night so I was with my family.

As time went on and I started playing more tourna­ments, I found that I could get to the tournament sites far easier flying than I could driving. The first couple years, I drove across the United States. I drove to L.A., back to the East coast, back to the West coast. That was very trying. After about five years of that, I was to where I could afford to fly more and I flew commercially. That started in about 1955, and about 1961, I bought my first airplane – a twin-engine Aero Commander. By then, my family had grown a little and, during the summer, I put my wife and children in the airplane with me and I flew to the golf tournaments.

As my schedule got more hectic, I bought another air­plane in 1963, which was a 560 Aero Commander. I bought that new and, because of the heavy schedule, I hired a pilot part-time to go with me to help take care of the air­plane and to fly with me to tournaments. As the years went on, I had a great interest in some of the executive travel that was going on. I was watching the executive airplanes turn into jets. In 1966,1 leased a Jet Commander and I flew that for two years. The lease ran out and I made a new deal with Lear for a Lear 24. That deal was a nine-year deal. I flew it myself with the pilot who accompanied me, took care of the airplane and did a lot of the stuff that was necessary to be professional and fly yourself around the country.

Nine years I did that, and then, in 1976,1 had a good friend who was an attorney who represented me. He became an aviation expert and became a part of Cessna. So, when the lease ran out on the Lear 24, I went to a Cessna Citation 1. That was one of the first Cessna Citations built. I got the No. 1 Citation 2. That was in 1978. Then, in 1983,1 got a Citation 3.1 had a couple of those. And then, in 1992, I got a Citation 7. In 1996,1 got a Citation 10-the No. 1 pro­duction airplane. Then, in 2002,1 got my second Citation 10 and that’s what I’m flying today. I fly these airplanes myself. I go to Flight Safety once a year to do my recurrent training for the Commander, all the Citations and the Citation 10. I’m somewhere in the area of over hours of flying. I fly my airplane everywhere I go.

Is there a favorite place that you like to fly to?

Everywhere that I fly to, I go on business. I fly for golf, for business. One of my favorite places, of course, where I do a great deal of business, is Palm Springs, California. I do like to fly there.

How old were you when you first got your pilot’s license?

I was 26 years old.

Have you ever been caught up in the air in a bad thun­derstorm? Other than the first one you told me about?

I have been in thunderstorms flying on numerous occasions and, particularly, in my early days. The first airplanes that I flew did not have radar. So I flew in weather, and occasionally, I got in a thunderstorm, yes. In those days, it wasn’t quite like it is today, where you can get directions around thunderstorms. In my early days of flying, if you flew on instruments, you were inevitably going to fly in thunderstorms. That was just a part of the business of flying.

What’s been your all-time favorite plane that you’ve owned or had from the get- go?

Citation 10.

At what year did you open up your first car dealership?

The first dealership I had was in 1981. That was Arnold Palmer Motors.

How many dealerships do you have now?

Well, we built the dealerships up to nine and I have sold all but one. I still have Arnold Palmer Motors in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.

While flying yourself around on the golf circuit, did you find that you were the only player doing so, or were there other players also flying themselves around?

No, actually, there were some before me. A guy by the name of Johnny, who goes way back. He was a pilot and did some flying. Then guys like Lloyd Mangrum had a Bonanza. Jimmy Demaret had an airplane that he flew. There are others, I just can’t come up with all of them. And, of course, in the early days, not long after Jack Nicklaus came on the tour, he got an airplane. He wasn’t a pilot, but he had an airplane and he had a crew that flew him wher­ever he wanted to go.

What do you currently have going on,? Do you do a lot of charity work? You mentioned that you still fly to events. What current events do you have going on?

I have the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and Women; the Arnold Palmer Medical Center here in Orlando. It’s quite large. We have, in the medical cen­ter, we have the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Children and Women. That’s brand new and it’s huge. We have the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in that medical cen­ter, we have a trauma center in that medical center and we have a cancer research center in that center. I have an Arnold Palmer Pavilion, which is a cancer treatment center in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. I have a prostate cancer center in the Lucy Curci Cancer Center at the Eisenhower Medical Center in Palm Springs, California. We have a hand center that is in Baltimore – Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. And a guy by the name of Tom Grant, who is in charge of that, is doing some work with people like John Kanzius, who is working to help cure cancer with M.D. Anderson. And I’m chairman of the hospital foundation at the Excela Latrobe Hospital.

Don’t you have an annual golf tournament that you host?

I have a tournament here at Bay Hill that is an annual tournament that is called the Arnold Palmer Invitational. It goes on every March. One of the recip­ients is the Arnold Palmer Hospital or Medical Center here in Orlando.

If you had a dream plane that you have yet to acquire, what would that plane be?

Just the Citation 10.1 just want to keep it. I love it.

What all do you love about it? Tell me a few key things.

It’s my second Citation 10; I had the first production model. I’m now at 176 production-the fastest private executive jet in the air. It seats 11 people and it’s a wonderful vehicle to get around the world in.

Is it a common thing, in this day and time, that players fly themselves on the circuit?

There’s a few of them that have airplanes that take themselves from one course to another, such as Greg Norman and Jack Nicklaus. But they do notflythe air­planes, they have crews that fly them.

Do you happen to listen to music while you’re flying?

No, I’m busy working. I can’t afford the luxury of music while I’m flying an airplane. I have to pay attention to what I’m doing.

Arnold Palmer is all about class. From major championships to Cadillacs to airplanes, he exudes elegance and style. He is one of the greatest golfers of all time and, along with Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Bobby Jones, is one of the few professional golfers that can truly be included In the conversation as perhaps the greatest golfer of all time. It was a pleasure to interview him and it’s a true honor to have him included in this book.

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Barbara Terry interview with Roy Oswalt

Roy Oswalt is a celebrated Major League pitcher who has spent his entire nine-year career, thus far, with the Houston Astros. He’s won almost twice as many games as he’s lost (137-70) and has compiled an impres­sive 3.23 career ERA. He’s won 20 games twice – in the 2004 and 2005 seasons – and has played in three all-star games. Roy is in contention for the Cy Young Award seemingly every year, finishing in the top five for Cy Young voting year after year.

So, Roy, what was your first car?

It was a ’63 Step Side truck. I worked all summer to get it. It was a bad green. We got a guy to paint it for me for $500. He did a pretty good job, too. Painted it blue. I drove that until my senior year and got another Step Side Truck – a ’95. I’m looking for that truck – the ‘63.1 have the serial number and everything. I’m trying to go through the state where you can send in and they’ll see if you’re looking for it for real or looking for some­one. They make sure you want to find it. I just want to restore it.

I have other athletes in the book that have located a car from their past. David Ragan, for instance. There was an old Corvette his dad had sold to get funds to help David in his early racing days and he found it in Pennsylvania. The guy didn’t want to sell it back and David wanted to buy it to surprise his dad. I guess David sweetened the deal and he finally got it.

It’s actually funny, 10 years after I sold it, I was walk­ing through the woods and the truck drove by and I couldn’t get back to my truck in time to catch it, and that was it. I wrecked the ’63 one time and tried to Bondo it myself. I noticed the Bondo when it drove by. That was probably eight years ago when I saw it. I sold it 13 or 14 years ago.

What did you own after that? Cars, trucks tractors, bulldozers?

When I was drafted after college, I bought a boat – a splash and sea kind of boat I used to tow around the city. We had fun with it. I had that for three years. I towed it around from New York to Michigan to Florida and all across the country. Then I sold it and I bought a ’98 Explorer in 2000. Now I have a Cadillac Escalade I bought in ’01 when I got to the major leagues. I got another Cadillac Escalade last year for my wife. And I have a ’63 Chevy Camaro and a 2010 Tundra.

Tell me about the Bulldozer that you have.

The best thing I own. (GRINS FROM EAR TO EAR) The restaurant I own, I actually made that parking lot with it. I got it for winning a game in the World Series in ’05. The owner of the Astros has a lot of real estate in Texas and he bought a bulldozerto clean up his ranch. I asked him what he was going to do with it when he was done and he said, probably sell it. I was going to buy that one from him. We were in the playoffs and I was watching Tate on the St. Louis Cardinals before I pitched against him. The owner came in and we were talking while I was watching Tate on TV, and he said he’d buy me a new bulldozer if I beat Tate. I got up, shook his hand and went back. I remember pitching about the sixth inning and we were winning 4-1.1 was thinking I needed four more innings. I got through three more innings and the reliever came in, in the ninth, and finished it off. I never left the field. I sat in the clubhouse next to the owner and reminded him of it, and he came through. I got it in the off-season.

What kind of music do you listen to in the car?

All kinds of country – Kenny Chesney, Merle, Hank, Rascal Flatts.

Have you ever looked at another player’s car and told yourself you needed one of those?

I am not big on new cars. We have a lot of guys that have Lamborghinis and stuff, but I’m not big on them. I like older cars. We have a first base coach – Cheo Cruz – that played with the Astros for 20 years. He had a ’57 Chevy that was nice and he also had a ’64 Mustang that was a convertible. That was nice. I like old, classic cars.

They’re hard to beat. What about your Camaro? Tell me about how you found it and the restoration process.

I was actually in Texas. I love ’67 and ’69 Camaros. Probably ’69 the best. I was looking at one that was pretty close to the original, something I liked. It was nice on the inside. I like the old-school look with a new school ride, so I was going to keep the look on the outside, but have the drive and suspension of a new Corvette. I took the inside of a 2010 Camaro and put it in the ’67 Camaro.

Do you get a lot of tickets?

No. (LAUGHTER)

Something was definitely up here. I wasn’t going to leave it at that.

Do you get pulled over a lot?

I’ve had a few tickets.

How fast have you gone?

Well, actually, I wasn’t driving. I was 15 and I just had a permit, but my friend had his license and we bor­rowed a car from a friend. She was 19 and the car was a new Accord with about 500 miles on it. There was a town up the road about eight miles – we used to hang out there. We came driving through town in a new car

and everybody wanted a ride, so we picked up two girls and my wife-who I was dating at the time -and my brother and a friend of mine. So there were seven of us in a Honda Accord.

How did you manage that?

My friend, my wife and I were sitting in the middle. My brother and two girls and another guy were in the back. We decided to go to another town and shoot some pool, and we wanted to see how fast it would go so we floored it.

Was it a four- or a six-cylinder?

It was a six. We probably got it to about 120. It would­n’t go any faster. We were on a straightaway, and back then they wouldn’t let cars cut off. Now, they run too fast, they’ll blow up. We get to the top of the hill and there’s a State Trooper. All I see is blue lights. At the time, my buddy told me he had a license, but he didn’t. He had a permit. I had a permit. My brother had a license. So my buddy’s legal, but he only has a per­mit. He says, ‘What do I do?’ I said pull over and he said he wasn’t stopping. So we don’t stop and that policeman chased us for, it seemed like days, but it was hours. We had that thing floored.

This is like an episode of Dukes of Hazzard.

Yeah. We’re flying down the road. We can see blue lights two hills behind us as we go up a mountain on a dirt road. The car’s turning so we decide, whichever way the car goes, we’re going the other. There’s two dirt trails. Well, this car’s going 30 and we’re going 100, so there’s a little bit of dust. Then we get to a T, and luckily on the other side of the T is a field, and we’re, like, which way, which way and nobody answers. So we actually jump the T and head out into this field and I’m, like, ‘Right, right, right,1 and we turn right. We got so far ahead of him he called back-up and set a road block. But we’d taken so many turns, they didn’t know where to set the road block. We get back to the high­way and there’s three cars. When we passed the offi­cer, it was pitch dark so he couldn’t see the color of the car.

We got in between those three cars and as all this goes on, my buddy that has a license changes seats with my buddy driving because he doesn’t want to get in trouble with his permit. We ease up to the road block and they have Mustangs ready to go. We pull up with a car in front of us and a car behind us. An officer comes up and asks to see a driver’s license. He says, ‘What are you guys doing down here?’ My buddy says, ‘We had to take this girl back home after we went to the movies. What’s going on?’ Like we have no idea. The officer says, ‘Somebody’s trying to be funny and outrun the law.’ The police officer gave him back his license and we drive through the road block. We’re free and laughing all the way home. Three days later, the guy that turned at the top of the hill got video.

Oh no.

Yeah, and they got the tag number. They went to the girl’s house. We dropped the car off that night and I know that thing had dings and scratches on it. We washed it up, but it was dark and we couldn’t see. She’s, like, ‘You guys are so responsible. Anytime you want it, you come get it.’ I felt bad. Three days later, the cops come to her house to arrest her. She told them who did it and called Scott, my friend, and said, ‘Get ready, the cops are coming to your house.’

Wow.

They showed up. He got a lot of tickets and stuff, and we all got in big trouble.

Did you get grounded? Did you get a whoopin’?

I didn’t get a whoopin’, but I got grounded for a while.

Wow, that’s a great story. That has to be one of the best that I have heard. Rules are made to be broken!

Until my kids read it.

Okay. It’s a great story, though. I have to print it. But maybe we should move on. When you got your first big contract did you go out and buy a cool car?

I actually didn’t. I was scared I wouldn’t make the big leagues, so I put most of it back to build a house. I did, however, buy that boat.

With the Step Side Chevy, it seems that you are quite a Chevy guy. Is there a dream car or truck you have ever wanted or dreamt about?

Classic cars. I like ’57 Chevys. They were big cars growing up. My dad loved them and he would brag on them. Going down the street, if we saw one, he would always ask us what make, model and year.

Have you ever had any bad accidents other than outrun­ning the law?

I’ve had a few. I had one in high school. (A DEVILISH GRIN SPREADS ACROSS HIS FACE) I wasn’t supposed to be doing what I was doing. I was taking home a friend after high school who didn’t have a ride, after baseball practice. That ’63 truck I had, it had a six-cylinder when I got it and I put a 327 in it – an old Holley.

What’s up with you and this horsepower thing? You always need it bigger and faster.

It’s funny, when I stop at a light if they take off, I have to pass them. There’s something about competition. I have to beat them and race through town.

So, I take him home and he says something like, ‘This thing won’t run very fast.’ I take off and I try to go around this long curve and I let my right tire get on the gravel. We actually went down in one ditch, and went across and started spinning in the highway. As we’re spinning, it’s funny, it’s almost like slow motion. My buddy says, ‘We’re going to flip.’ I’m trying to drive and we start to straighten out. I shift into second and try and go the other way to drive out of it. I’m going so fast, backwards, smoke is com­ing off the tires. We go through and hit a fence post and end up in a pond. I get out and I think my truck is dead. The fender’s gone and I try and back it out. The tire actually had come off the rim when I came off the road and I could­n’t get it out. I had to call a tow truck and got grounded for that, too, because I wasn’t supposed to be down that way.

What year was this and how old were you?

Nineteen ninety-three, and 16.

So, Roy, why are you so rough on vehicles?

I like to try them out.

How well can you drive a stick shift?

That’s all I drive.

How many more years will you play? I ask because some athletes in this book are on the cusp and some are retired.

I’m going to play two more, for sure, and then decide. We’ll see where I’m at. If I’m close to something, I might go after it numbers-wise or championship-wise, but probably not much longer than that. I want to try and do something else, maybe NASCAR. I love competition.

Cool. Okay, road trips. Do you have any favorites.? I’m sure you drive from Texas to Mississippi.

Yeah, I own land in Mississippi. Actually, Jake Peavy, we own land together there and in Michigan, and we kind of hunt there and go to Illinois and hunt, and then Alabama, maybe, all season. It’s a tour.

So, your hunting ranch, is it like Jay Novacek’s hunting ranch. The Upper 84?

That’s what I have here.

Tell me all about it

I started it in ‘06.1 high-fenced it and I’ve been trying to get the deer to a high quality so somebody who would pay to come on will shoot quality deer. I just started selling hunts this year and had a few guys come on. It’s fun. A lot of these people are corporate people and I like meeting them. It gives you options after baseball. Plus, watching some­one else kill one is as fun as hunting. The place in Illinois and Missouri is just personal, with friends and family.

Is it solid deer or are there other options for a good hunt?

I have some exotics too, from Africa and India.

How long does it take you to dress a deer?

Just take the hide off of it? Twenty minutes.

Tell me about your charity. Fund 44.

We have a bond set up, so if someone loses their house in a fire or they lose their job, we buy stuff at Christmas for them.

Tell me about your restaurant.

We just built it. I wanted a steakhouse close. I’m tired of driving 45 minutes to eat.

I figured that was your restaurant when I drove by it. Do you have frog legs on the menu?

Yes, we have frog legs, quail, a catfish buffet, but we specialize in steaks. All Angus. I try to buy the best. I looked all over Texas and I actually get meat from Buckhead in Atlanta. The biggest thing for me, here, I try and invest in quality, but here you have to have something you can afford. I could have the best in the world, but no one around here is going to pay $50 a steak. I’m trying to get the best quality that you can afford. It’s been working so far. It’s called Home Plate and we opened in November of 2009. □

Roy, without a doubt, had the most rural location out of the 40 athletes in my book. Something about the smell of game, cow shit and hot rides just takes me back to growing up in small town Texas. Floy’s Southern hospitality was addictive and inviting. Heck, he even left me drive his bulldozer!

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