Q&A With Peter Gammons

Published by Loren Amor on February 02, 2010 at 3:10AM

It’s a rare opportunity for fans of America’s pastime to pick the brain of one of the great baseball storytellers of the 20th Century, but that’s exactly what a captivated crowd at the First Church of Cambridge Congregational’s Lindsay Chapel had the opportunity to do last Thursday when Hall of Fame sports writer Peter Gammons came to speak.

As the Crimson article notes, Gammons touched on a variety of issues, ranging from steroids to Major League Baseball’s role in Latin America. But Gammons had plenty more to say, and the Back Page has you baseball junkies covered below with extra insight from one of sports journalism’s true pioneers:

ALL THE ‘ROID RAGE

Gammons on allowing steroid users into the Hall of Fame:

“The line that I’ve drawn, is that anyone who tested positive from 2005 on, when there was a policy…[is] disqualified.”

More on steroids:

“I don’t worry about people who were guilty and we never find out…[It is] much worse to be innocent, and be thought by us to be guilty.”

On Barry Bonds’ Hall of Fame chances:

“Bonds is going to be interesting…Next to Ted Williams, he’s the most intelligent person to discuss hitting that I’ve ever met in my life.”

On Roger Clemens:

“I actually think he believes he did nothing.”

On former St. Louis Cardinals slugger and admitted steroid user Mark McGwire, now the Cardinals’ hitting coach:

“He loves to teach. He loves the game. I thought his interview with Bob Costas was too prepared.”

More McGwire:

“Mark is a classic Type A,” Gammons said, relating a story he had hear in which McGwire “ditched one of his girlfriends because she left the orange juice out twice in one week.”

TALKING BASEBALL

On baseball academies in Dominican Republic and other Latin American countries:

“They have these…agents who grab these kids when they’re 10, 12 years old. They don’t play, they just workout. It’s tough to tell when a kid doesn’t play how he got that big and athletic.

On recently departed Red Sox left fielder and new Met Jason Bay:

“He was good in [Boston] because he’s Canadian, he’s a hockey guy. He just skates his wing and nothing bothers him.”

On Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka:

“The problem that he has here is that everything he does here is so over-reported in Japan, where he’s a rock star. It’s fascinating to understand how miserable he is in Japan and how happy he is buried somewhere in Brookline.”

On Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer, who is reportedly on the verge of signing a long-term deal with his hometown team:

“He takes being from St. Paul so seriously…He probably will re-sign. He’s by far the most popular athlete in Minnesota.”

On former Red Sox and New York Yankees player Johnny Damon, currently a free agent:

“I’m not sure Johnny’s smart enough to know how much money he lost since he left the Red Sox,” Gammons said, noting Damon’s difficulty in selling his house in Brookline after he joined the Yankees. Gammons related a story in which he jokingly offered to switch houses with Damon and try to sell the house himself. Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter walked by and told Gammons to “stop picking on the animals. [Damon] has no clue.”

On Yankees’ closer Mariano Rivera:

“He’s never won an award, but if you took the Cy Young and MVP of the last 15 years, he’d probably sweep them both…He’s one of the most distinguished people I’ve ever met and I’m old enough that I can compare him to Cary Grant.”