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Monday, March 25, 2002
Updated: April 2, 7:05 PM ET
Luis Gonzalez

Page 2 staff

Luis Gonzalez began his major-league career in 1990, when Yogi Berra was his manager. He has played for four teams during an often forgettable career. But he'll never be forgotten in Arizona, where he found new life when the Diamondbacks traded for him three years ago. He hit 57 home runs last season, but what he'll be remembered best for was the jamshot he hit off Mariano Rivera to win Game 7 of the World Series.

Luis Gonzalez
He hit 57 homers last year, but Luis Gonzalez will be most remembered for a bloop single.
More than four months later, Gonzo still was trying to convince himself that he really was a Series hero when Page 2's Jim Caple caught up to him in spring training for 10 Burning Questions:

1. Page 2: Which are you prouder of -- the 57 home runs you hit last year, or the bloop single while you were choking up on the bat against Rivera?

Gonzalez: The bloop single. That was the most memorable hit of my life. And probably for the whole state of Arizona. Everyone you talk to talks about being there or watching it. That was a big part of kids' and parents' memory. You can hit all the home runs you want, but to hit a single like that was awesome.

2. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Gonzalez: Perfect happiness is living where there is no crime and being able to live with your doors unlocked and everyone just gets along. I grew up in a neighborhood where there were just a ton of kids, and everyone played outdoors. Now the whole world has changed. Now nobody plays outdoors. They just sit inside and play video games.

3. You're fluent in both Spanish and English -- which was your first language?

Fidel Castro
As a Cuban, Gonzalez is very wary of Fidel Castro.
Gonzalez: My whole family is Cuban, so growing up with them I might have spoken Spanish first. Sometimes when I get mad -- and I very rarely get mad -- the temper will be in Spanish on the inside, and then my words will get all twisted up. I dream in English.

4. Would you like to see the U.S. open trade with Cuba?

Gonzalez: You're talking to a guy whose family is Cuban, so I would say not until everything is cleared up over there, and we can come in freely over there. We still have relatives over there, so I would love to be able to visit and see my family's heritage, and it's a shame that Fidel Castro limits that.

What about the argument that we would have more influence on Cuba if we traded with them?

Gonzalez: If that's the case, that would be great. But I can't see that happening as long as Fidel Castro is over there.

5. You went to high school with Tino Martinez. Who had the better-looking yearbook photo?

Gonzalez: Him, by far.

Tino Martinez
Tino Martinez was definitely a little more suave in high school.
Was your picture as embarrassing as everyone else's is?

Gonzalez: Yeah, I had the big coif hairdo. I was trying to grow it long, and it didn't work out. I tried to part it down the middle, and it didn't work out.

6. What one thing would you change about yourself if you could?

Gonzalez: I wish I could grow longer hair. But this is what God gave me. This is the hand I was dealt. I can't trade it in.

7. Which Fantastic Four superpower would you like -- the strength of 100 men, the ability to stretch your body into any size or shape, the ability to be invisible or the ability to be a human torch?

Gonzalez: The strength of 100 men.

Luis Gonzalez
Almost no one chooses that. Jason Giambi did, but almost everyone else picks invisible.

Gonzalez: I'd rather have the strength just to hit balls out stadiums. That's just the way the game is now, power and strength.

8. Which three people, living or dead, would you invite to your dream dinner?

Gonzalez: Can it be my family?

No, relatives not included.

Gonzalez: I would love to have dinner with Jerry Lewis, Yogi Berra and Rodney Dangerfield. That's a pretty good mix right there, isn't it?

What's your favorite Yogi-ism?

Yogi Berra
The wit of Yogi Berra would enliven any dinner party.
Gonzalez: "It ain't over 'til it's over." He's got a ton of them. He was with me in Houston when I was there. I remember one game at Shea Stadium. I came into the clubhouse after the game, and I had played awful. He put his arm around me and I was thinking, he's going to tell me everything is going to be OK. And he said, "Gonzo, you stunk today." It made me laugh. You're thinking, Yogi, the legend, is going to tell me something to comfort me, and he just told me I stunk that day. That put everything into perspective.

9. Speaking of perspective, which do players take more seriously in spring training -- getting ready for the season or how they're doing in the NCAA pool?

Gonzalez: In the middle time, it's how we do in the tournament pool, and then as we get closer to the season, it's worrying about getting ready for the season.

Once you get knocked out of the pool, you mean.

Gonzalez: We have so many pools here that you can win one and still end up down in money. Which was my case last year.

10. How would you like to die?

Gonzalez: Shoot, you could have taken me right after I got that winning hit in the World Series.