We went to Yankee Stadium in May and met second baseman Brian Roberts. Brian has been in the major leagues for 14 years, mostly with the Baltimore Orioles, and we are sorry to see the Yankees let him go last week.
What do you like most about playing for the Yankees?
Playing in Yankee Stadium is pretty cool. It's a team with so much history -- obviously, the most championships of any pro sports team. So it's a really great honor to be able to play for the Yankees.
What advice would you give to kids who want to be just like you?
Don't be just like me. Just be yourself. But obviously, if that means wanting to play major league baseball, then I would say don't let anybody tell you you can't. Continue to work hard, stay out of trouble. That's the easiest way to see your dreams not come true is to get into trouble. But just work hard and have fun.
What is your favorite stadium to play in and why?
I'll give you three stadiums. I love Yankee Stadium. I always loved Yankee Stadium. I love playing in Fenway Park. It's old and there's so much history as well. Then I played 14 years in Baltimore, Camden Yards, and I really enjoyed playing there also.
When you're on the field, can you hear the fans cheering and booing?
Yeah, sometimes. Usually you hear them booing more than you hear them cheering. Because when they're cheering, like you're, just, you don't really pay attention, you know they're cheering. But when somebody's booing you or saying things that might not be very nice, you tend to hear them more, unfortunately. But we're pretty good at blocking it all out as best we can.
How did playing for the Yankees differ from playing with the Orioles?
Well [with the Yankees], you're in a bigger city, definitely. I think there's more attention, more media . . . I think in general it's the same, you're still playing baseball, but there's just differences when it comes to all the outside stuff that goes along with it.
What was your favorite baseball team growing up?
Well, my dad was the baseball coach at the University of North Carolina my whole childhood. So I was actually a bigger fan of college baseball. So his team was my favorite all the time and I went to all the games, and that was kind of my favorite team.
Do you ever play baseball for fun?
Not very often, but I have a son that's 9 months old. So when he gets a little bit older, I think I'll play a lot of baseball for fun, hopefully.
What was behind your decision to start raising money for the University of Maryland Medical Center's Children's Hospital?
Great question. I had open-heart surgery when I was 5 years old. So I have a big scar on my chest because I was born with a hole in my heart. And when I got to Baltimore, the public relations, the community relations department there asked me what I wanted to be involved with and what interested me, and that was something that was just very interesting to me with my background and history. And once I started getting involved, it just kind of progressed -- visiting kids and taking things and trying to make their day a little bit better, and raising money to try also to help the hospital provide better care.
When did you become a switch-hitter, and what is your natural side?
I was very young. I don't really remember. I've been doing it my whole life, for the most part. My dad just kind of constantly flipped me back and forth. I think my natural side is whichever one feels more comfortable that day, because it varies every day. Some days you feel really good one way and terrible the other way. The next week it flip-flops.
Does your family still live in North Carolina, and if so, what is it like being away from your family for half the year?
Well, my parents live in North Carolina and they try to come and see us as much as possible, especially since they have a grandson at our house. But my wife and my son are with me. So I get to be with my real family now, which is my wife and son, most of the time, which is great.
Would you want your kids to play baseball?
Definitely -- baseball's a great game. It's provided me with a lot of joy, and a lot of fun and the opportunity to see the country and see the world, really. I've been to Japan and all over the place playing baseball. So if my son wants to play baseball, I would definitely encourage him to do so.