It turns out that spirituality can gain you make you a top 100 all-time slugger. Shawn Green, a Met from 2006-07 before retiring, is tied for No. 98 with 328 homers, including the record-tying four he hit in one 2002 game with the L.A. Dodgers.
His new book, “The Way of Baseball: Finding Stillness at 95 mph,” reveals how Eastern philosophy taught Green to experience life more fully by being present. Green, 38, is also working with Subway on its charitable Baseball DeSIGNS Tour, which collects baseballs
designed by Little Leaguers and autographed by celebrities to be auctioned off to benefit the Little League Urban Initiative.
He spoke with amNewYork recently.
What are some tools to keep yourself in the present?
The biggest one was just meditation. For me, my work at the batting tee became my meditation. ... I just started to realize that the way you do things is more important than anything. I started to do my tee work with complete attention.
Maybe you could give Derek Jeter some advice about staying in the moment as he nears 3,000 hits?
I think he’s got it figured out pretty well. Even though I wrote from an Eastern perspective, I think all players of Jeter’s quality, Hall of Fame-caliber guys, they’ve all figured out a way to stay in the moment and to get out of their minds and their thoughts and be more present in the actions that they’re doing on the field. Whether they verbalize it or not, they obviously can do it. And that’s what I think separates the greatest players from the average player or the not-so-good players.
Two of your former teams, the Dodgers and the Mets are both struggling financially. Do you have any personal feelings about that?
Yeah, it’s a shame for both organizations, and for baseball. Because those are two of the top five or six organizations in the game and all of a sudden they’re having these humongous issues. It’s not like little issues every team goes through at one time or another. These are big problems that they have. One thing, I can say that I’m confident that MLB is going to get everything straightened out. It might take another year before everything’s back on track. ... It seems like the Mets are already starting on the road to recovery. I know there’s still probably going to be some more fallout there, but they’re at least bringing some new blood into the mix, and I think that’ll help. As far as the Dodgers go, I think it’s just a matter of time before we see a new owner in L.A. And hopefully for fans in L.A., that happens sooner than later.
If you on the Dodgers now, would you be distracted by these reported problems with the team making payroll?
As players, they know they’ve been assured that MLB would step in if it got to that point. I think it’s more of an issue if you’re a couple games up or down in the race and middle of July rolls around and your competitors are making some deals and bringing on some additional payroll — and you’re sitting there, or, in the worst case, dumping guys to shed some payroll — then that’s where it really hurts for both the players and the fans.
Looking back on the Mets’ 2006 near-miss in Game 7 of the NLCS against St. Louis, do you empathize with Mets fans who have suffered so much since then?
I wouldn’t completely say that’s when things started to go sour for the Mets. It was more so the next year when we had that collapse with 17 games left. That was really what the team hasn’t been able to recover from.
As a Jewish player, were you excited about coming here like, ‘Hey, I’m coming to New York, the capital of American Jewry’?
Yeah, I was excited about that. ... Coming there later at the end of my career was perfect timing.
Is there anyone in today’s game who reminds you of yourself?
There’s a guy on the Dodgers that’s similar: Andre Ethier. I think he’s a little more consistent in his batting average, and he’s going to have less variations in home runs. I mean, he’s going to be in the 25-to-30 home run range. Whereas I was a little streakier with that. I’d have years where I’d hit 49 and years I’d hit in the teens. As far as his swing goes, he’s similar.