We met Mets outfielder Michael Conforto in the players lounge right outside the locker room before a game at Citi Field. Michael was the Mets’ representative at this year’s All-Star Game.
Did you have a favorite baseball player growing up?
I always wanted to play like Ken Griffey Jr. I’m from Seattle, and he played there. I got to watch him growing up. He was an outfielder and left-handed hitter, so I really wanted to throw like him. He always looked like he was having a lot of fun, so I just wanted to play like him.
Does it ever get boring standing in the outfield?
Sometimes, because we’ve got some really good pitchers, so sometimes I don’t get a lot of action out there. I’m just standing out there watching them strike guys out and get ground balls and stuff. But, you know, I just have to try to stay focused and enjoy myself out there.
Is your family’s competitive background the reason you started playing sports?
That’s probably where it all started. My family was always into sports.
Were you a good student in school?
Ah, surprisingly, I was. My parents were probably the biggest role models in that they wouldn’t let me go hang out with my friends if I didn’t get my schoolwork done first. I couldn’t play sports if I wasn’t doing well in school. So that’s where it all starts.
What was your favorite baseball position growing up?
I liked playing shortstop when I was growing up. I think a lot of these guys who are in here played shortstop growing up. I like to be right in the middle of all the action and you know, turn the double plays and all that stuff. So I didn’t make it to the big leagues as a shortstop, but you know, that’s just part of the game.
Do you have a nickname?
I have a couple. Let’s see, I have MC Hammer, Scooter — I don’t really know why they call me Scooter. You might have to ask some of the other guys. Let’s see, and then Forto, just an abbreviation.
What made you choose baseball over football when you were being recruited by all these Ivy League schools for football?
I really loved football. I think that was my first love, but my future was in baseball. I had better offers from schools in football, but I had a better future in baseball.
What is your routine before a game?
My routine is to show up to the field. I’ll go to the weight room and just kind of get loose, move around a little bit. You know, do a workout if I need to, and then I’ll get some food. Then I’ll go in the cage and I’ll hit a little bit, go through my hitting routine. Go back and get some more food. And then go out for batting practice, and then after batting practice, I just relax a little bit and try to get focused and ready for the game.
What is your favorite away field to play in?
I like Wrigley Field, where the Cubs play. It’s an older stadium, but there’s a lot of history there and their fans are great. They always show up and they’re always really loud. It’s a good atmosphere to play in. And I like Denver, too. I like Coors Field because the ball flies there. A lot of home runs.
When your team wins, how do you celebrate?
We have a little ceremony after the game. They give the player the crown — the player of the game gets the crown and the robe. So that’s always fun. Everybody lines up in the locker room to give high-fives and play music, and it’s definitely a lot more fun than after we lose. Everyone’s real quiet after we lose, so we like to make it loud when we win.
Does your uniform number have a meaning?
No. It’s just a number that they gave me, but 30 is great. If I had to pick one I probably would have chosen 8. But I think that one may have been retired; Gary Carter wore 8. So, 30 works for me. I’m not too superstitious about the numbers.
Have you ever gotten a crown after you won a game?
I have, and that’s always fun. The only thing is, you have to wear it during the interviews with the media and sometimes that’s a little embarrassing, but that’s OK.
When you were playing baseball in high school to college, did you think that you would get this far?
I think I did. I think I always knew that if I kept working hard, you know, eventually I would get to where I wanted to be. And that was just kind of the motivator for me. There was always a goal for me to get here. I didn’t know I was going to be playing in New York, but I always knew, I think I always felt, that I would be in the big leagues.
What do you enjoy when you’re not playing baseball?
When I’m not playing baseball I like to play some video games. There’s not a whole lot of time for a lot of stuff, but I like to play Call of Duty and Madden. I’m sure you guys know all about that.
If you were playing a baseball video game, would you choose yourself?
Definitely. I think that’s always a fun thing.
What is the best and worst part about your game?
The best . . . I think it’s just trying to stay focused and focused on using the whole field when I’m up there. Taking what the pitcher gives me. And the worst is sometimes I get a little frustrated, down on myself, when I don’t get hits. So, that’s something that I always want to work on. It’s just keeping a positive attitude, always.
Do you ever watch yourself on TV?
I do, sometimes, when it’s on there. When I get home from games, sometimes they’re replaying the game. I just want to see it in a different view. It’s cool, though, the first time you get to see yourself playing on TV, it’s really cool.
Can you ever hear the fans cheering or booing? Do you ever feel like answering them?
Yes. I can hear both cheers and boos. There’s a mixture of both, and I do want to answer the cheers a lot of times. I appreciate those. The booing, I try to just block out and just focus on the good stuff.