Countdown to Mets’ Fantasy Camp: Butch Huskey Steroids, 42,The Wall, and the 3 Man Lift.
Chayim: First of all Butch, I gotta ask: how did Robert Leon Huskey become “Butch”?
Butch: My grandma gave me that nickname when I was younger.
Chayim: And it just stuck.
Butch: Oh yeah is stuck. That’s what I went by when I was in school. I didn’t even go by Robert,
Chayim: Did you ever sign an autograph as Robert?
Butch: Nope. I don’t think so.
Chayim: You’ve been in the league for a bit. Bounced around a little bit. What was your best moment in the show?
Butch: Best Moment? I’d probably have to say hitting my first home run off of Nomo.
Chayim: That was when Nomo was untouchable…
Butch: It was when Nomo won rookie of the year.
Chayim: Remember what he threw you?
Butch: (sighs) it was probably a fastball.
Chayim: You came up with a lot of hype with the Mets. Big time prospect, big time power prospect. Talk a little bit about what that’s like. The pressures of being a top prospect in New York.
Butch: There was a little pressure but; getting to go out there and play the game you love in front of the most knowledgeable fans in the world was unbelievable. I didn’t really put any extra pressure on myself to do anything special. Just tried to go out there and do what I loved to do and play the game it was supposed to be played.
Chayim: You had some huge years in the minors. As a highly-touted prospect, did the pressure mount with each year in the minors? Were you getting frustrated that you were tearing up AAA and not getting the call? Your name was being talked about by Mets fans and in Mets circles as a power solution – were you hearing the talk when you were in the minors?
Butch: No, I never once got frustrated because I knew eventually I’d get my opportunity to play in the big leagues. It’s a grind being in the minor leagues, being in the big leagues….Wherever you are you’ve gotta make the best of it and go do what you do.
Chayim: Then you finally make it up to the big-leagues. You make your big debut against the late Darryl Kile and…no-hit. Was that kind of an “oh shit, what did I get myself into” kind of moment? Your first game in the Majors is a no-hitter…what’s going through your head?
Butch: Well, before the game ever started I was throwing up because I was nervous. I remember Joe Orsulak and Eddie Murray telling me to take it easy or I was gonna kill myself. No it was a great experience. You got all those Hall of Fame guys, great guys like Eddie Murray didn’t get any hits so after the game I didn’t worry about it. After the game I went to Dallas Green and asked him what in the world was going on.
Chayim: What’d Dallas say?
Butch: He just gave that big ol’ laugh of his and said “welcome to the big leagues kid”.
Chayim: “Welcome to the big leagues kid”?! Darryl Kile did not throw a regular big league curve. His curve was one of the greatest of all time. Is that what you thought a big-league curve looked like?
Butch: (sighs) yeah… he was hard to hit. There’s nothing else you can say about it he was just tough to hit.
Chayim: Ok. Let’s talk about the number. #42 is obviously the number in baseball. (This year especially with Rivera’s retirement.) Talk about #42: it finally being out of the game and what it meant for you to wear it.
Butch: It was the ultimate for me to wear it. When they told me I was gonna be allowed to keep wearing it, I thought that was pretty special. I’d be one of the last three or four in baseball that had it. And to be able to go to all those ballparks and see your number sticking on the wall….that was pretty cool.
Chayim: You tell the kids “that’s daddy on the wall”?
Butch: (laughing) yeah….yeah. It was a tremendous honor that we were able to keep that number and it’s fitting that Mariano Rivera was the last one to wear it – what a great career he had. Unbelievable that guy…
Chayim: What are your memories of facing Rivera? Tell me ‘bout facing ‘Mo.
Butch: He was tough on me. I think I got a couple of broken-bats hits against him but that’s it. He was tough man.
Chayim: Left-handed hitters had no chance against that cutter…
Butch: That cutter was filthy. What made it even better was he developed that cutter but he still threw that hard sinker and you knew it was coming.
Chayim: The #42, as important and special as it was to you – why’d you switch to 44 in Boston?
Butch: The reason I did that was: they had just gotten rid of Mo Vaughn and I didn’t feel like hearing all the talk and the constant comparisons to Mo Vaughn so I just switched the number. Nothing against Mo or anything, I just didn’t want to hear people talking about 42 and Mo Vaughn so I just decided to change the number.
Chayim: Now the last Met to wear #42 was Mo Vaughn.
Butch: (laughing) right…right.
Chayim: You lost that one.
Butch: Yes I did. He’s a great guy- he’s a great guy though. I got a lot of advice from Mo Vaughn.
Chayim: You were around the big’s for a while; you’ve been in a few locker rooms. Baseball’s notorious for the pranks and the craziness. What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen?
Butch: um…. There was the three-man-lift. I got suckered into that deal with John Franco and those guys. Spring Training in Port St. Lucie.
Chayim: Three man lift? What is that?
Butch: The three man lift, you never seen that?
Butch: They put you in the middle laying on the floor. You guys lock arms and legs like he’s gonna lift all three of you guys up. They tell you they’re gonna give you a lot of money. You think you’re gonna get a lot of money because you know he can’t do it. So you go along with it and they just throw cereal and juice. They had 5 gallon bags of garbage they threw on me. It was a mess.
Chayim: Butch, I’m sorry in advance but I gotta ask you. Probably the most well-known clip and best known moment from your career…
Butch: (laughing) ah…
Chayim: Oh you knew it was coming… How many times have you seen that running-into-the-wall clip from when you were in Seattle? What are your memories? Walk me through it because that’s one of the most played clips in the last 20 years of Baseball.
Butch: I can’t get away from it. My kids laugh at that play. What happened was we were playing in the Metrodome and the way the outfield is out there – if you take the eye off the ball for a minute you’ll lose it because the roof was the same color as the ball. So I decided I wasn’t gonna take my eye off the ball. You saw the result of that (laughing).
Chayim: Over and over again. You talk to kids and tell them “I’m Butch Huskey…you gotta keep your eye on the ball”, some little kid’s gonna shoot right back with “oh yeah? Well watch out for that wall Butch”.
Butch: (laughing) yeah, yeah. It’s a hard one to explain.
Chayim: I assume there were some medical repercussions? A concussion or something?
Butch: Nope. No medical problems. Just lots of jokes.
Chayim: You’re still getting air-time on TV with that clip.
Butch: (chuckles). Yeah. Wasn’t really the way I wanted to be on TV but that’s the way it worked out so I’m fine with it.
Chayim: If it makes you feel better, the other clip you’re famous for is that shot in Philadelphia. You killed one that landed in the 600 section of the Vet. (Willie Stargell, Ruben Rivera, and Jim Thome are the others to have accomplished that feet.)
Butch: Oh yeah. That was off of Matt Beech. I remember that one.
Chayim: I had a feeling if I asked you for three memories it would be that debut game against Kile, you kissing the wall in Seattle, and that Philly home run.
Chayim: Butch, most of the comparisons that I saw were comparing you as a prospect in terms of raw power and ability to Mark McGwire and Greg Vaughn. Two dangerous power-hitters that have been alleged to use PED’s, you never have been. What do you think your career could have been if you used?
Butch: Well, I probably could have extended my career a few years. I don’t know. I don’t even look at it that way. That’s what I say to everyone who asks me about PED’s. I never used ‘em so I don’t have to go to sleep at night looking over my shoulder to see if someone’s gonna catch me for using an illegal substance. I know I never did it and that makes things easier. Those guys are catching a lot of flak for the last few years for the PED’s. It’s something I’m glad I’ve never had to deal with.
Chayim: On that topic, have you seen PED use in the clubhouse? I’ve done an interview leading up to Mets Fantasy Camp and a player named a player who he’s seen get injected by their wife. Have you seen anything like that?
Butch: Let’s just say I’m not gonna say “no” and we’ll leave it at that.
Chayim: It wasn’t at the clubhouse though. You’d go to a player’s house and you’d see them doing “stuff”?
Butch: Well….yeah. I’m not gonna say guys on our team did it but it was around. I don’t like talking about it because I didn’t do it. Those guys did it and they have to deal with it.
Chayim: Speaking about how much flak these guys are getting; I’m gonna give you a vote. You get a ballot – who is Butch Huskey putting into the Hall of Fame?
Butch: I’d put Pete Rose in definitely.
Chayim: Well he’s not on the ballot. I wish he was but he’s not.
Butch: (laughing) yeah… As much as those guys did for us in baseball, I would vote “no”.
Chayim: To who? There are guys who weren’t named in the Mitchell report or failed a drug test but have been suspected of using for years.
Butch: I’d put Bagwell and Piazza in for sure because they’ve never been accused of anything. They’ve never had to deal with it. There’s a lot of guys who are borderline hall of famers that I’d put in. Guys like Fred McGriff.
Chayim: How ‘bout Bonds? Bonds is an interesting case because there’s a clear before and after. Before he went to San Francisco, got huge, and started swatting 70 a year, he was already a hall of famer and probably the best player in baseball. What do you do with him?
Butch: Bonds? I say no.
Chayim: You got to play in two of the biggest –and this IS 100% biased – biggest and smartest baseball cities there is in New York and Boston. Yankees/Red Sox stuff aside, what’s the biggest difference between the two?
Butch: Um…I don’t know. Boston fans can be nasty. I mean, I know New York fans can get pretty nasty but Boston fans are nasty. Plus, in Fenway, the fans are right on top of you. There’s not too much you can block out in Fenway because you’re gonna hear everything and you’re gonna see everything. They were booing (Red Sox legend David) Ortiz for a while there.
Chayim: Well yeah but Butch, Yankee fans were booing Jeter for a stretch there too.
Butch: well…yeah. There really not that different. They’re both great places to play.
Chayim: Let’s say you get to make a Butch Huskey fantasy camp. You can bring any coaches you want. Who’s coming?
Butch: Oh wow… I’ve played with so many good players. I know John Franco would be at the top of that list, he was just so good. Anthony Young, Pete Schourek, Eric Hillman, Bobby Jones (the white Bobby Jones, not the black one). Man… I’m sure I’m leaving some guys out but I played with a great group of guys in New York.
Chayim: Butch, you’re fantasy team is all pitchers –
Butch: I know. They’re all coming.
Chayim: Thanks for the time Butch. Stay safe, stay healthy.
Butch: Oh man, thank you. I appreciate it.
WLIE 540 AM SPORTSTALKNY Staff Writer
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