Angels center fielder Torii Hunter talks about dinner with Martin Luther King Jr. and Al Capone, provides some financial advice, describes his digital doppelganger and reveals why he and Indiana Jones are similar (snakes, why did it have to be snakes?)
AP Photo/Jeff Chiu
The Angels are hoping for big things from Hunter at the plate this season.
1. You're a huge video game player. Do baseball video games portray you accurately? And if not, what do they miss?
Not really. They miss the super defense, baby. It's like I'm a normal guy on defense. They got me with a weak arm, and I don't run too fast -- little things like that. I don't understand that, but that's just the way it goes. But the hitting is pretty good. They got that part of me down.
2. What do you think of the Tim Lincecum video game commercial?
I thought that's pretty neat. They got the little video guy and him together, taking him around and showing him what to do. That's pretty awesome. A little Torii Hunter would be funny. He would be so smooth. Riding in the car, instead of singing, Little Torii Hunter would be rapping, cracking jokes and hollering at girls out the window. Little Torii would be good. Torii-Me. Mini-Me. It would be fun. I'd be out there showing Little Torii how to rob a home run and hit the cutoff man and swing hard just in case you hit it.
3. This is the last year for the Metrodome in Minneapolis. What will you miss about the place?
Just all the history. I played a lot of games in the Metrodome [when I was with the Twins]. You lose balls in the Metrodome. You're playing on turf. But one thing I'll miss is how loud it gets there during the playoffs or a weekend series with the Yankees. It gets so loud you get this ringing in your ears that's still there when you go to bed that night. You lay down and you still have this ringing in your ears. People screaming and yelling -- the noise and the echoes just bounce off the walls, and it has nowhere to go.
I love Minnesota, but I didn't like playing in the Metrodome. Because it's inside. It can be sunny out, and then you open a door and go inside and there's no sun. And the turf hurt. And it could be cold, too.
It always seems odd when clouds go in front of the sun and you notice it getting a little darker inside.
That's when you lose fly balls against the roof.
4. Do you have a recurring anxiety dream in which you can't do something or you show up late or you are naked in public?
You know what? I have a lot of dreams with snakes. I don't know what that means -- maybe somebody is scheming behind my back -- but I always dream about snakes. They're just sitting there staring at me. I'm always walking in front of someone's house, and on the side there will be all these snakes. It's a recurring dream. I'll be trying to get into this house or this certain spot or hotel, and all the way there are snakes curled up staring at me. I make sure I never have contact. I hate snakes. But I want to know what it means. In the street or the 'hood, a snake means you're a back-stabber. So I need to figure it out.
5. If you could invite any three people from history to dinner, who would they be?
Definitely Martin Luther King Jr. Definitely Michael Jordan. And maybe Al Capone.
Yeah, you always see those three guys named together. Al Capone? Why Al Capone?
I don't know. He's just one of those tough guys, and I'm into mafia movies, "Scarface" and all that stuff. Reading books, he was pretty tough.
How about in "The Untouchables" when Capone is meeting with his guys and talking about teamwork and then cracks one over the head with a baseball bat. Would you ever give a motivational speech like that?
I don't want to use violence. I just like the power he had. Not the violence. He knew what he was doing, and he would just sit back and have people do stuff for him.
What would Martin Luther King Jr. say to Capone?
You didn't have a dream.
6. Which superpower would you most want to have -- the strength of 100 men, the ability to fly or the ability to turn invisible?
I would say the strength of 100 men. If I was invisible, I'd be hiding myself and sneaking around, and that's kind of shady. And if I was flying, I wouldn't get no exercise. I would just be up flying around. I'd be a fat flier. But if you have the strength of 100 men, you would be in pretty good shape, walking on the ground. I'm always opening the door and lifting weights and stuff, and if you have the strength of 100 men, you know you're going to use it.
AP Photo/Chris Carlson
Hunter will certainly track down a lot of balls in center field.
7. You were mentioned in a Sports Illustrated story about how you were once taken in an investment scheme and how you've been very careful with your money since. Do a lot of people ask you for money?
Look at this. [Hunter grabs his cell phone from his locker and shows the call history.] I get 10 calls a day from people asking for money. The recession is hitting guys hard. A lot of people have lost their jobs. I'm from the 'hood. I was dirt poor. I understand what it's like. Whenever I can help somebody, I'll help. But I look at the situation, and if I don't feel something is right, I won't do it.
8. What have you learned about investments?
If their idea is so great, why are they coming to you with it? They're coming to you because you're an athlete and they think they can take advantage of you. We're baseball players. We know baseball. We don't know anything about investing money, the same as anyone else. Doctors and lawyers? They're not all great investors, either. How do you learn about money and investing? Plus, we're 21 years old. We're going to have fun with the money until we figure it out. And some people don't last long enough to figure it out.
Fortunately, I learned. It only takes getting burned once. It's like when I was a kid. I always wanted to touch the burner on the stove, and my mother would tell me not to touch it. But I would keep trying to, and she would tell me not to and swat my hand away. And she finally got tired of telling me not to, and so she let me. I never touched that burner again.
9. What was your first glove?
I got my first glove from my Uncle Jerome. I was maybe 8. He gave it to me. I just grabbed it, and he said go ahead and keep it. It was an outfielder's glove, but I used it to play shortstop. I had that glove for a lot of years.
10. What should baseball do to keep people from focusing on steroids so much?
It's actually getting better. It's dying down. There was all the talk about A-Rod. And then -- I don't know, maybe it was the [World Baseball Classic], but there's no A-Rod talk about steroids anymore. It's getting better. It's not that bad. Maybe in the Yankees' camp, they still talk about it. I gotta tell you, there are so many guys doing positive things, but nobody wants to hear about that. They don't want to hear about positive actions on and off the field. Negativity is everything to everybody. You know that as a writer. You hear something negative and you may not want to write about it, but you have to, because it's your job. It's what sells. It's what people want to read and hear. Which is sad. Very sad.
Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com.