Saturday, January 06, 2007

Tom Grieve Interview

This week I interviewed Texas Rangers broadcaster Tom Grieve. The results of the interview are below.

1. Which job has been your favorite – being a player, GM, or broadcaster?

Tom said that it was definitely being a player. It wasn’t really a job to him. He’s loved everything else but nothing is close to being a player. It was his dream since he was a kid and he made lifelong friends as a player. He’s also enjoyed everything else and considers himself lucky that he’s never had anything that he would really consider to be a job.

2. What is your best memory of being a player?

Tom’s best memory as a player is his first major league game versus the Yankees at Yankee Stadium after he got called up with the Senators. He grew up as a Yankees fan, reading their box scores every morning. He saw his first major league game at Yankee Stadium. Tom grounded out to shortstop in his first major league at-bat.

3. What is your best memory of being a GM?

The Winter Meetings in 1989. Tom made trades for Rafael Palmeiro to play first base and Julio Franco to play second base and signed Nolan Ryan.

4. What is your best memory of being a broadcaster?

Tom said that it’s hard to pick out one thing that stands out as an analyst. The play-by-play guy makes the calls and tends to have more memorable moments. Nothing really stands out but if he had to pick one game, it would be David Dellucci’s big hit against the A’s in late 2004. Also, working with Mark Holtz in 1996 in Tom’s first full season as a broadcaster. He learned a lot from Mark and enjoyed being involved with and interviewing the team when they clinched their first playoff appearance.

5. What was the key to your big year in 1976, when you led the team in so many categories (home runs, slugging percentage, and total bases)?

This was Tom’s second year of getting to play every day. He started playing every day in late 1975. 1976 was the only full season where he played daily and he felt like that gave him the chance to get comfortable and find his rhythm as a player. Also, he was older and more mature by this point.

6. What is your opinion of the Rangers off-season so far and what do they still need to do to win the division?

Tom feels that Jon Daniels has done well and worked hard. The starting pitching rotation hasn’t been better in years. They have four starters already in Millwood, Padilla, McCarthy, and Tejeda. They also have a strong bullpen. The team has had lots of emphasis on scouting, minor league development, and Latin America, which will pay dividends. The main thing they need to do is sort out the outfield in the spring.

7. What changed in order for you to become such a big power hitter in ’74-’76?

He never looked at himself as a power hitter but says that it was harder to hit home runs back then. Hitters now are much bigger and stronger, plus coaching and hitting instructors have made hitters more technically sound. Tom says that the main reason he hit for more power those years was the opportunity to play more often.

8. What have been your favorite and least favorite ballparks you played in or broadcasted from and why?

As a player, his favorite was Fenway Park. Tom is from Massachusetts, so he had a lot of family there. Plus he loved the history and tradition at the park. He also loved playing in Yankee Stadium because he grew up a Yankees fan.

As a broadcaster, he likes Seattle and Anaheim because you don’t have to worry about the weather and the booths are comfortable.

9. What is the biggest difference between Jon Daniels and John Hart?

One obvious difference is that Hart was an older, veteran GM, while Daniels is much younger and less experienced. Also, Hart was a minor league player and Daniels never played professional ball. Daniels has been much more available to fans and the media. He returns calls and answers e-mail. Hart hurt himself by not being available to the fans and media. He also was very sensitive to criticism. His approach to the media and fans hurt him, and Daniels has learned from Hart’s mistakes.

10. What was your favorite team growing up and why?

The Yankees because all of his friends were Red Sox fans and Tom wanted to be different. His favorite players were Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, and Billy Martin. He could hear all of the games on the radio. His mom also became a Yankees fan. She’s still a Yankees fan but Tom isn’t anymore.

11. What are the three most fun things about your job?

He gets to enjoy all of the good things about baseball without any of the bad stuff. He gets to travel, know the players, and be around baseball, but doesn’t have to be involved in the hard GM duties, like hiring and firing people and giving performance reviews. Also, the offseason is a vacation now. As a GM, he had no time off all year. He felt pressure all year because of the responsibility he had to the team and fans.

12. What are the three toughest things about your job?

Tom doesn’t think there’s anything hard about his job. If he had to pick things, it would be the travel, sleeping in hotels, and doing interviews (because he says he’s not a professional). Broadcasting is easy and natural for him.

13. What is a typical day like in your job?

On the road, he wakes up early, eats breakfast, works out, and hits golf balls or goes golfing. In the afternoon, he goes somewhere by himself for lunch and then relaxes and prepares for the game. He hangs out in the hotel and takes the team bus to the park. At the park, he spends time on the field and in the box preparing. He has a bite to eat and then does the game. He goes back with the TV crew to the hotel, watches TV and goes to bed.

At home, it’s not much different, except after the game, he’ll watch the end of West Coast games on DirectTV before going to bed.

Tom said that he’s kind of boring because he likes having routines.

14. What was it like to play for Ted Williams?

Ted was a very difficult manager to play for. He didn’t like being a manager and was just waiting for his time as manager to be over. He thought he could make people into .300 hitters and was frustrated that he couldn’t. He didn’t spend much time at the park and wasn’t very patient with players. He was a brilliant guy and interesting to talk to. Tom liked him but thought he was a difficult guy to play for.

Come back next week for recaps of every team’s offseason in the AL West so far.


Ken Pittman said...

Grant - great interview. All of your blogs are great, but your interview blogs are spectacular. Great questions and some interesting answers. Interesting difference between Grieve and the players you have interviewed - the players seem to fairly consistantly answer the "least favorite ballpark" part of the their question while Grieve appeared to avoid it.


David said...

I agree. Another great job, Grant.

Grant Schiller said...

Hi Ken - thanks, that's really nice of you. It is interesting how Grieve avoided it while the players always answer it. Grieve was such a nice guy and was a lot of fun to interview. He gave thoughtful, long answers to most questions.

Hi David - thanks for the compliment.


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