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Brad Penny: When I Was a Kid
Bradley Wayne Penny was already a dominating pitcher at Broken Arrow (OK)High School, where he was an All-State selection and Frontier Conference Pitcher of the Year. He was selected in the fifth round of the 1996 MLB draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks. After a very successful stop in Florida, gaining a World Series ring along the way, Brad was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2004.
Brad had the opportunity to pitch in two World Series - the 1989 Dizzy Dean World Series at age 11, in which he pitched the final game and won, and the 2003 World Series, when his team, the Florida Marlins, took home all the marbles.
2006 was a very successful year for the 6-foot-4, 260 pound hurler as well. Brad went 16-9 that season with a 4.33 ERA and 148 Ks. Good enough to land him the starting pitcher honor on the National League All Star team. He made the All-Star team again last year, and looks set for a great 2008 season....
JrBB: How old were you when you first started playing baseball?
BP: Five years old. I played on a coach-pitch league at five, and then after that moved up to regular kid-pitch.
JrBB: Who was the biggest influence on you in baseball?
BP: My brother played, so I'd go watch his games. I was interested and knew I wanted to play.
JrBB: Did you play travel ball, or on all star teams?
BP: Our team traveled a lot. When I was 10, I got on a team, and remember we went to New Mexico, Las Cruces and Farmington. We played in the Dizzy Dean World Series in Louisiana and we ended up winning that.
We traveled all the time. It's all we did.
JrBB: How old were you when you won the Dizzy Dean World Series?
JrBB: Pretty exciting huh? Got yourself a ring real early?
BP: We didn't get a ring, but we got some big trophies.
JrBB: The trophies were probably as big as you at the time.
BP: (Laughing) They were bigger!
JrBB: When did you start pitching?
BP: Ever since I was allowed to, in kid pitch. I played pitcher and third base.
JrBB: What was your greatest moment in youth baseball?
BP: It was that Dizzy Dean World Series in '89. I got to pitch the final game, we won 2-1. It was a lot of fun!
JrBB: You're an avid fisherman and hunter. Was this something you did as a kid besides playing baseball?
BP: The whole family did it; my dad, my brother, my cousin and uncle. We'd always, and still do, during Thanksgiving week we're out there, together, huntin'.
JrBB: Tell us about your high school baseball career.
BP: Normal, can't remember my numbers. I was playing basketball too. Pitched, played third base too.
JrBB: Did you think you had what it takes to play pro ball in high school?
BP: Yeah, that's what I wanted to do. I mean, I hoped anyway.
JrBB: Did you have a Plan B in case that didn't work out?
BP: I was going to go to college. I didn't know what I would've majored in.
JrBB: What was your greatest moment in the game so far?
BP: Winning the World Series in 2003 with Florida. Actually, the best part was beatin' Schmidt of the Giants in the divisional series (editor's note: Jason Schmidt, then Penny's opponent, is now his teammate on the Dodgers and in fact had his locker two down from Brad's, and was overhearing our conversation! Typical good-natured ribbing going on here.)
JrBB: Who is the best hitter you've faced?
BP: Not you, Schmidt (laughing in background). Bonds probably, when he hit 70 that year, he's probably one of the toughest hitters I've ever faced. Couldn't get a ball past him.
JrBB: You defend your position well - is this something you work on?
BP: We work on it in spring, but it's more about being defensive and not wanting to get hit by a ball!
JrBB: What is the most fun part of being a Major League player?
BP: You get to meet a lot of good people, traveling to different cities I probably would never have gone to if I wasn't playing baseball.
JrBB: Who are your favorite players from the past?
BP: I was a Cardinals fan, and one of my favorite players was Ozzie Smith. My dad was a Dodgers fan, I loved watching Eddie Murray.
JrBB: Have you set any particular goals for yourself in this game?
BP: I just want to stay healthy and keep playing. Of course all the awards would be nice. I've done the World Series, I've started in an All-Star Game, a Cy Young would be great. Twenty wins is probably the one thing I want the most. So far my best is 16. That last four is tough.
JrBB: What advice would you give to the kids out there who dream of playing in the Major Leagues someday?
BP: It's possible, if you apply yourself, and you have the physical ability and the mental ability. I think anything can happen if you stay positive and keep playing and make sure it's still fun for you.
JrBB: What advice would you give to their parents?
BP: To relax, just let them have fun, not put too much pressure on them; not make them do something they don't want to do. That's what I see a lot of, when I go around to Little League parks, I see parents trying to push them to do something they really don't want to do, when, if you just laid back, and I was never pushed, and let them do what they want and keep having fun with it, then they have a chance.
JrBB: Thanks, Brad!