John Kruk, former Major League Baseballer’s stats could go on forever.This former Philadelphia Philly was inducted into their Wall of Fame in 2010, has been featured in several movies including “The Sandlot” and has now made a smooth transition into being one of the most straight forward broadcasters on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight. The transition from baseball player to baseball analyst was one that puzzled his peers. The one thing you have to remember about this outspoken baseball commentator is that behind the overzealous personality the real breakdown with Kruk because he eats, breathes and lives baseball.
15 Questions with the legendary John Kruk
1. How did you get your start into baseball? When did you realize baseball was going to turn into your career?
I have three older brothers, so I started playing as far back as I could ever remember. We played all sports it wasn’t just baseball, just as I got older and went to Junior college baseball just became the one that I was better than the rest. We had a bunch of people who were drafted and I happened to be one of them when I got drafted by the Pirates. I didn’t sign then, but after I got drafted I thought “Shoot maybe I could do something with this!” The next summer I got drafted by the Padres and thought “Let’s go check it out!” and it worked out!
2. Who has influenced you the most in your career?
My first year in rookie ball Tony Gwynn and I roomed together and we were very close. The way he hit and the way he carried himself, that was something I wished I could be. He helped me out a lot and got to the big leagues quick, in the 80’s you had to scrap for every piece of equipment you got, it’s not like it is now. When Tony got to the big leagues he gave me a bat and glove every year, which meant a lot to me.
3. What was the transition like going from playing baseball to being a baseball analyst/broadcaster?
I think the people and my teammates are pretty much shocked because I had such a distain for the media. No particular reason why, it wasn’t like they wrote bad things about me. I guess because it’s tough for me to concentrate on two things at once. I wasn’t very good at answering “how was your day today” when someone came up to ask me that when I was too busy thinking about the game. So it was shocking to me when I was getting into this that I started enjoying it, but this is what I know. I know baseball – it’s been a blessing.
4. In three words how would your fellow Baseball Tonight Analysts’ describe you?
Just three words?! Well, I got described by this by a couple of guys today, they said, “He’s f-ing nuts!”
5. A day in the life of John Kruk, what does that consist of?
When I’m working, I wake up play golf, eat lunch, go back to the hotel, take a nap, check in around 4 or 4:30. I go into ESPN have a meeting, watch games (sometimes we have aSportsCenter stuff), we formulate a show around 8pm, do a demo tape on analyzing the games (which is basically done by 11), tape shows for ESPN.com and Sportscenter.com, usually I have another show around 1AM to 2AM. It’s pretty busy, but it’s only four days every other week so I’m home a lot.
When I’m home in Naples, I golf. If it’s a weekend and the kids are out of school we go fishing. My daughter is in gymnastics, she plays softball and got herself into some hip hop dance thing – which I don’t know where in the heck she got into that. My son is into baseball, soccer, tennis. They are both are going to start playing golf when I get back.
6. Recently you tweeted about the new TaylorMade Rocketbladez, what else is in your golf bag?
Tees and all sorts of crap, but I do keep a nutrition bar in their because I have diabetes. It’s made by a diabetes doctor, in case it goes to high or levels it off. Golf balls, I use Titleist Pro V1x’s and TaylorMade just made me pink ones for breast cancer. They made me ones for higher swing speed because I play in a lot of tournaments for breast cancer; I have some friends on the LPGA Tour who kind of get tickled that a full testosterone guy comes out there with a pink ball.
7. I know you coached in the Phillies organization, will we be seeing you returning to coaching anytime soon?
Never. Well I am going to coach my son this spring. I asked my son first, because I don’t want to be that Dad, he is his own kid and I’m not a drill Sargent. He hits the way he hits, swings the way he swings. I let him feel for himself and finally this year he had a coach who was real tense, who would yell and scream and stuff like that. So when I asked him this year, he said he would like that. Though, if I had to pick one thing to coach, I would coach Women’s Division I Softball. I’ve talked to a couple coaches who are good friends of mine from Florida and Alabama, and they will do anything you ask them to do. With boys they can’t be coached anymore at that level. That is what I would want to do.
8. The 2012 World Series just wrapped-up; did you expect the San Francisco Giants and Detroit Tigers to be in the finals?
Not as the season started, but once the playoffs started, because they both pitch really well. I’m just surprised at Detroit’s offense. As bad as it’s been, pretty much for the whole season, they haven’t been hitting at all. It’s just shocking to me that they haven’t been able to put up any runs against the Giants.
9. I saw a segment you did about finding the best seat in Fenway Park, what has been the best seat you found at any ball park?
At AT&T Park in San Francisco, up in the second level you can see the entire field, but you can look out at the boats, ships and everything. If the game gets boring, who wouldn’t want to sit there in the
sunshine and look out and see the boats? It’s just beautiful. It’s the most beautiful ball park I’ve seen!
10. What’s your favorite thing to eat at the ball park?
I’m partial to Philly food, so Greg Luzinksi’s BBQ out in right field. His ribs are about as good as I’ve ever had, so I like it there. Plus it’s a baseball game, right? You have hotdogs and those are good anywhere!
11. Will we be seeing you make any more appearances in any more movies coming up?
Well, you never know. We will see nothing is on the table right now. Sometimes they call and you go do things. Let’s put it this way, I’m not going to say no, if they come calling.
12. What do you expect to get out of 2013?
Oh gosh, when you get my age you just hope to make it through the year! In 2013, you just hope to see 2014. So that’s the goal!
13. What has been you proudest accomplishment to date and why?
Oh man…I think having two kids after battling cancer. There was a really big possibility that I would never have kids after cancer back in ’94, but we’ve been blessed with two good healthy ones, so I’m very happy about that!
14. How do you want to be remembered?
Am I dying soon? Do you know something I don’t’ know? As someone who enjoys life and who enjoys his profession. Hopefully, as someone who played the game with youthful exuberance and hopefully haven’t screwed up too many kids with helping them out.
15. What is a piece of advice you would give to a person trying to seek a career in pro baseball?
Do it your way! Sadly, as you go there are so many people, now adults/parents, who think A.) they know the right way to do it, or B.) they looked on the internet and they think they know who to do it. I see so many kids where they step up to the batter’s box, they have people telling them 5 different things on what to do, and by the time they figure out what to do they have two strikes on them. There is a right way and wrong way to hit, but there’s also your way to hit. Look at Major League Baseball, they all swing a different swing. Do it your way!