[Note: Hear an interview with Grady Sizemore on YOUNG MONEY Radio.]
Grady Sizemore thinks he has the best job in the whole world. Sizemore plays center field for the Cleveland Indians, but it would be hard to argue with him whether or not you’re a sports fan. After all, how many other jobs give you the chance to have your own personal bobblehead doll, be cheered by an all-female fan club called Grady’s Ladies and get paid millions of dollars to do what you love?
Sizemore, 24, was a baseball and football star at his high school near Seattle before the Montreal Expos persuaded him to choose pro baseball over college by giving him a $2 million signing bonus in 2000. Sizemore was later traded to the Indians and spent four years playing in the minor leagues until he was finally able to break into the majors in 2004.
But it didn’t take Sizemore long to show that he belonged once he got there. He was selected to the All-Star team in just his second full season in the majors. Last year, Sizemore became just the second Major League player in history to record 50 doubles, 10 triples, 20 homers and 20 steals in the same season. He also led the American League in runs scored with 134.
The Indians have no intention of letting their best player get away from them. In 2006, he signed a $23.5 million contract extension that will keep him in Cleveland for another six seasons.
Cleveland manager Eric Wedge called him “the greatest young player I’ve ever been associated with” in a recent Seattle Times article. Coaches and teammates frequently mention his intensity and strong work ethic. However, Sizemore remains endearingly humble despite all the accolades being tossed at him. He prefers to focus on team goals instead of personal accomplishments. Off the field, Sizemore is well known for maintaining a laid-back attitude and his love of movies.
In an exclusive interview with YOUNG MONEY, baseball star Grady Sizemore spoke about what motivates him to succeed, life as a Major League player and how it feels to hear people call him the next great superstar.
Was choosing playing baseball over going to college a tough decision for you? Yeah, it was tough. You’re not really sure what you want to do. You’re still in high school and you’re making these big decisions. I almost thought that getting drafted wasn’t really a possibility. I was more looking to go to college and then I got the opportunity late in June with the draft. I just decided that baseball was where I was leaning anyway as far as my career. It was what I loved more. It was a gut decision I went with. I just decided to do it and see where it took me.
You played four years of minor league baseball before making it to the big leagues. How different was your lifestyle back then versus now? You definitely get first class treatment when you’re in the major leagues. They do a good job of making sure everything [you need] is right there and everything is very comfortable. That’s definitely one of the perks, I guess you could say.
What are the best and toughest parts about playing professional baseball? The major leagues are the cream of the crop. It’s the best players in the world, so being able to compete against these guys everyday and playing a game that you love is obviously an exciting thing to do. I think what’s so tough about it is just that the game is constantly evolving. [Players] are continuing to get better with the way they work and the way they have scouting reports on everybody. I think it’s a game that’s constantly growing and getting bigger and bigger and people are getting better and better. So it’s a challenge and I enjoy a good challenge.
What keeps you motivated? I love to compete. I’m a huge competitor in anything I do whether it’s sports or whatever might be happening that day. For me, it’s I just want to be the best I can be. I want to be a good teammate. I want to win a championship. That’s one of the biggest motivations-sitting there at the end of the year and knowing you’re the number one team at that time.
A lot of folks are heaping praise on you around the major leagues. How does it make you feel to hear those comments? It’s flattering. It’s nice to know that people are saying that about you. But for me it just makes me want to work harder. You’ve had some success and you’re doing things well, but when you hear stuff like that it lets you know that you’ve been working hard and that people are seeing that and appreciating it. But it’s a motivating factor for me. It just makes me want to be that much better and work that much harder.
What’s been the greatest highlight of your career so far? I think one of the biggest things these past couple of years was being able to go back to Seattle where I grew up and playing at Safeco [Field]. Your family is there, your friends are there and your old coaches are there. You’re playing in center field and you have a bunch of your buddies from high school out there in the little garden behind center field so it’s kind of an exciting feeling. For them to see it and experience it with me, it’s a great feeling.
What was your experience like at the All-Star game? That was fun. It was a little nerve-wracking. You’re in this locker room being a young guy with all these six-or seven-time All-Stars. These [are] guys that you watched when you were a kid growing up. The [same] guys you looked up to when you were coming up through the minor leagues and the major leagues and now you’re sharing the same locker room. You’re sitting there thinking “Do I go up and ask for his autograph? Do I stay here and not say anything?” I enjoyed it. Hopefully, it won’t be my last trip there. It was a great experience for me and something I’ll always remember. I really had a lot of fun while I was there.
Major league players usually have short careers compared to other jobs. Do you feel a need to save your money now because things could change unexpectedly? You can’t really control what happens. There’s always a chance of getting hurt. With baseball, the one thing that’s good is that your contract is guaranteed and in football they’re not. I guess I don’t really focus on that stuff too much. My job is to play baseball and to be out there every day. I try to stay as healthy as I can and be on the field every day. I’m pretty careful with my money anyway so I’m not too worried about it.
You’re a big movie buff and you also love The History Channel. What would you be doing now if you weren’t playing baseball? Would you be working in the film industry? That’d be fun. I don’t know if I’d really enjoy acting, maybe directing. It’d be kind of fun to direct. Yeah, I’m really into movies, history and The Nature Channel. But I have no idea, really. I would have probably gone to college had I not played baseball and hopefully found something there. But who’s to say where I’d be if I didn’t play baseball. It’s always been in my life since I was a little kid, so I don’t know anything else.
Would you be interested in getting involved with coaching or sports broadcasting someday? Probably not. Maybe coaching, but definitely not broadcasting. I don’t think I can handle the whole broadcasting thing. I’m going to play as long as I can. I love this game and maybe when I’m done playing I can take some time off and enjoy being with my family.
What kind of goals have you set for yourself for this season? Personally, I don’t really focus too much on personal goals. I think obviously you want to improve on last year. You want to take it one step further and up your game, and that’s always a goal of mine. But as a team we’re not satisfied unless we’re playing in the postseason, so this year we’re going to work hard and play strong for the whole six months. I think we have the guys here to do it. That’s my goal-to do my best to help get this team into the playoffs.
Hear interview with Grady Sizemore on YOUNG MONEY Radio.
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