We interviewed Mets reliever Bobby Parnell in the dugout before a recent home game at Citi Field.
What do you do on your days off to prepare yourself for your next game?
Really it's just rest. We play 162 games in a 182 days. So over that six- to seven-month period, we only have 20 days off, and they're very valuable. So just relax, sit around the house with my dog and my wife. Just take it easy.
What are some hobbies that you have outside of baseball?
I like to fish a lot. I have a Jeep. I like to be outdoors as much as possible. I'm from North Carolina, so as much as I can be outdoors I like to do it.
What would be your ultimate achievement?
Winning a World Series. Plain and simple, I think you can't get any higher than that in baseball.
What is your philosophy on winning?
Wow, you have some deep questions. My philosophy in winning is just to make it simple for me as a pitcher, to just throw strikes. I feel like if I execute little things and the big things take care of themselves, it just comes down to the simple fact of throwing strikes.
So you have any pregame routines or rituals?
I do follow the same routine. I won't bore you with all the details, but it basically comes down to just getting loose, just stretching. I'll listen to a little bit of music every now and then just to relax, but I do the same thing every day. Ride the bike and stuff like that, but I think the most exquisite thing is probably just listen to music.
What advice do you have for young athletes?
My advice to them is what my motto is: Just have fun. I think growing up if you're not having fun playing baseball, or playing sports, or finding a way to make the game enjoyable or the game is enjoyable naturally, then it's tough to play in...You've got to make sure you're having fun, whether you're hitting home runs every day or striking out every day. It's got to be fun, and you really have to live by that.
What is your most memorable game?
There was a game in Boston against the Red Sox, I guess it was probably my first or second year, and I didn't have a name out there. I wasn't anybody, but I was still early in the game, sixth or seventh inning after the starter and our closer got hurt, and I was fortunate enough to be the guy that was going to come in the eighth or ninth inning late in the game and pitch.
That was the first time I'd come in a pressure situation and was able to go one, two, three and get three outs really quickly and hit 100 miles an hour the first time in the big leagues. I think that was probably the most enjoyable one.
How do you feel about being a closer for the Mets?
I got the opportunity this year to start out at the beginning of the season, and it's a fun position to be in. It's a high-pressure situation, and it's just the next step. It's very fun for me.
When you're on the field, do you hear the fans cheering and booing?
Yeah, we're pretty close here at Citi Field that we can hear the fans, we can hear them yelling at us or stuff like that. Fortunately when I get on the mound, I'm able to focus it all out, but if we're just on the outfield hanging around, we can definitely hear them yelling at us.
Who were the toughest hitters that you ever faced?
It probably would have to be right this moment Albert Pujols. I faced him when he was in his prime. He was a very aggressive hitter, very tough hitter to strike out, and you get two strikes on him and even if you had two strikes on him, you felt like you were behind because he was such a good hitter and he could hit the ball anytime.
What would you like to do when your baseball career is finished?
I have a deep passion for firefighting. My dad's a fire chief back home. And I grew up in the firehouse, and that's always been something that has been part of my life. So I would imagine something in the fire department. I don't know exactly what it would be. I hope I'm old when I retire. I don't know what jobs are available but something in the fire department. Something fire-related I would like to do.
Who is your role model?
I have to say my biggest role model was my father. I spent a lot of time with him growing up, was fortunate enough to be around him a lot. He's a great guy. He taught me the right way, taught me how to be a man, be respectful to others. He's always been there for me. I would have to say him.
What was the best advice you were given in your entire life?
I've always been told -- and this is what's always stuck with me -- to just have fun. Have fun playing baseball, remember it's a game and that's how I kind of approached it. But if I know that I'm not having fun on the baseball field or not having fun doing what I'm doing, then I'm not going to be the best at it. I'm going to have a bad attitude towards it.
At what age did you become a professional baseball player?
In 2005, this year I got drafted and that was when I was at college. I was 20 years old. That's the kind of realization that I had the ability to be a big league baseball player and had the opportunity now to be a big league baseball player.
Twenty years old seems like old age, but like I said I was having fun playing baseball. I was in college for three years, getting my degree and doing all the right steps and was fortunate enough to become a professional baseball player at age 20.
What has been your greatest thrill in a game?
Every game is exciting for me but I guess just the one thing that really sticks out for me is I pitch every day. That's something that I love doing.
I've been able to hit a couple of times in the game and my very first time at bat I was fortunate to get a hit and that's something that's always I think back on and smile about and think that was a great experience because I don't get to do that every day and I might not get to do that ever again. So being able to hit one time that was fun.
Who was your favorite baseball player when you were growing up?
When I was growing up, I would have to say my favorite baseball player was Roger Clemens. I got a chance to meet him a few years ago. He kept that title because he's such a great guy, he's a competitor and he's fun to watch.
If you could change one thing about baseball what would it be?
I don't really know I would change anything. I love the game so much and love everything about it that I don't know if I would really say that I want to change it. I like it the way it is.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
My inspiration comes from respect of the game. The game's been played for so many years and it's been played hard that if I didn't respect the game, then I wouldn't have that inspiration to do the things right that I do.