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Mets player Todd Frazier meets Long Island kids

Mets player Todd Frazier with Kidsday reporters Gianna

Mets player Todd Frazier with Kidsday reporters Gianna Bommarito, left, Alex Bedard, Brendan Bohn and Gabriel Beschloss in the clubhouse at Citi Field. Credit: Newsday / Pat Mullooly

We met Mets third baseman Todd Frazier in the players lounge at Citi Field recently. Todd has been a star for a long time, even being part of the team that won the 1998 Little League World Series. We had such a good time meeting him.

Who was your role model when you were a kid?

My father, first and foremost. He is the guy that taught me baseball and to be a man. He always let me learn on my own, and whenever I made a mistake, he always said I would have to learn on my own in that way, too, and that way it will make you a better person as well. He let me make my mistakes, and I finally figured out what mistakes not to do, and I became the man I am today.

You have two brothers who also played professional baseball. Did you all play ball together, and who was the most competitive?

We played not only baseball but every single sport you can think of. I would say I was the most competitive because I always wanted to beat them at everything. My middle brother Jeff, we played together in high school. I was a freshman and he was a senior, and it was probably the best time I have ever had playing baseball. My older brother got to play with Jeff for two years. They had all the records, and whatever records they had, I wanted to break. They always gave me a goal every year to have.

What was the best moment in your baseball career, from winning the Little League World Series to now and playing with the Mets?

That is a good question. I have had a handful of them. The Little League World Series is definitely up there, the home run derby championship I won in 2015. I have always dreamed of hitting a walk-off home run, and I think I have hit four of them now. I would have to say the Little League World Series, because it was the foundation and me coming out, and this is what I really want to do and this is what I really want to be. To play in front of 40,000 people at 12 years old is just one of the coolest things ever.

What is your favorite part about being a Mets player?

I think one is living close to home — that is a big thing. And also playing with such great players like Jose Reyes, Thor [Noah Syndergaard], Jacob deGrom, and just going out there and seeing the crowd go crazy when we do something good, there is no better feeling in the world.

Do you encourage your son Blake to play baseball?

Yes, 100 percent. He loves it and loves every second of it. I was just out there playing with him today. He wakes up at like 8 in the morning and says, “Wake up, Dad,” and he already has a bat on his shoulder. I don’t even have to say anything because he loves playing the game.

Can you explain the salt and pepper celebration and how it started?

In spring training we were trying to figure out something. I had the thumbs-down thing when I was with the Yankees. And we basically say, when someone gets a hit, you take a salt-and-pepper shaker and grind it out and try and get as many hits as possible and spread it around to the team. That kind of came up and we just took off with it.

We heard you are called “The Toddfather”! What does it mean, and do you like being called that name?

It came about seven years ago when I was in Cincinnati. I am from New Jersey, and people always think that it is the Mafioso and the mob and stuff, and you know the movie “The Godfather.” So I became “The Toddfather.” It fits well for me.

Do you think chewing gum helps you focus in games?

That is a funny question. I try not to chew gum. I may have some sunflower seeds, but I don’t think it helps me focus. We would have to look that one up and get a couple of scientists together for that one.

What advice would you give to middle and high schoolers about achieving their dreams?

Focus on one thing, whether it be a firefighter, a baseball player, a teacher, whatever it is. Have as much fun as possible doing it and dream big. I tell everybody I had a dream to be a baseball player, and it came true. I am very fortunate.

What do you like to do on your off days?

I like to spend time with my family. I like to go to the beach and my son’s baseball games.

What do you do when your team is on a losing streak, and who on the team is the one who gets the players in a positive mood?

I would say I am the one who gets them in a positive mood. I will talk, I will dance with them, play tricks on them, steal their jersey and throw it in the laundry just before the game just to mess with them and see what happens. Anything to get positive energy. It happens on a whim. I am just a little kooky when it comes to winning streaks and stuff like that.

Do you like all the traveling?

I love traveling. We are fortunate to have our own plane, and we can spread out and play cards and just have fun with the guys. I have been to almost all the top cities in the U.S.

Is there ever an offseason in baseball?

No, never! Well, maybe about two weeks when the last game is over and you then spend some time at home. And then you have to hit the weight room right after that.

Do you have any favorite foods or candy you like to eat before or after a game?

Oh, man! There are two things that get to my heart: cookie dough and French fries. As weird as that sounds, I will eat any French fry in the world, with a lot of ketchup. And before I go to bed I like to binge-eat some cookie dough, which is terrible, but I love it.

What obstacles did you face as a child, and how did you overcome them?

For me, I was fortunate. My big brothers would always take care of me. I had struggled in the minors. I struggled hitting-wise, sports-wise. I was very lucky to have two older brothers, and I never got in trouble because they would always be there to kick my butt if I did. The grind of baseball and playing in the minor leagues . . . but I am very fortunate.

We heard you were a big Frank Sinatra fan. Is that true?

As a young kid at your age, I was focused on the R&B and the rap songs. My grandma used to play Sinatra all the time in my house. And I would ask, “Grandma, why are you always playing his songs?” Eventually I caught on to all the words and I started liking the music. It reminds me of my grandma, and it is kind of a family thing.

How did like playing at Rutgers University?

I loved Rutgers. I loved every second of it. School was great. We won the 2007 Big East Tournament. I was actually player of the year that year, and we had six guys drafted in 2007. I think the friendships that I made, especially with the baseball players, are something I will always remember.

How did you feel after winning the home run derby?

Oh, man! It was one of the top five things in my career. To play at home with my home team and have both my brothers out there to support me was just awesome.

How does it feel moving from team to team?

I have been on four teams now. It is not the worst thing. It goes to show you that another team wants you. You get to meet new people, and you get a better understanding of how to play when you get up to the plate. It is cool to be in new cities.

Robyn Madden and Patricia Roberts’ sixth-grade class, Garden City Middle School

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