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Biofile Al Leiter Interview

By Scoop Malinowski

STATUS: Former MLB pitcher from 1987-2005 for New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, Florida Marlins and New York Mets. Also is a TV analyst for Yes Network and MLB Network.
HT: 6-3 WT: 220
DOB: Oct. 23, 1965 IN: Toms River, NJ
CHILDHOOD HEROES: “He covers the team and he’s broadcasting the game tonight. It’s Tom Seaver. I grew up a Met fan. If you grew up a Met fan in the 70’s, he was the reason you rooted for the Mets. And he was a great player. And I also liked the way he handled himself off the field.”
NICKNAMES: Cigarette, Butane, Bud
HOBBIES/INTERESTS: “I like to golf, fish. Like to spend a lot of time being a daddy with my children. Being a father and a husband.”
EARLY BASEBALL MEMORY: “A good memory…it was very important to win the game because we used to go to Dairy Queen. And we’d get a small cone. And even on top of that, it was important to be MVP of your team because the MVP got, not only a cone, but you got a banana split [smiles]. So I do remember that. You wanted to have a great game, of course, to win the game. But you wanted that banana split. So it seemed like all the guys on that Little League team were playing for that banana split.”


FUNNY MEMORY: “Well, I think most recently, because my brain cells are pretty fried…Benny Agbayani, in a major league game just tossed the ball out into the stands in a crucial situation. It was only one out and he gave the ball to the fan. And a run scored as a result of that. And he had to go back and take the ball back from the kid. We ended up winning the game but it was pretty funny.”
GREATEST SPORTS MOMENT: “It’s really two. But I’ll go with starting Game 7 of the 1997 World Series (with Florida vs. Cleveland). And pitching well enough to help the Marlins win the world championship. Also, had a no-hitter. Personal achievement – I’ve experienced three world championships (’92 & ’93 with Toronto) and that’s the reason why we play…to win a championship. But on a personal note, the no-hitter is something that every starting pitcher dreams about (vs. Colorado in ’96).”
MOST PAINFUL MOMENT: “Would be after my second shoulder operation in 1991. And just recently married. Had my newlywed bride and I was on rehab assignment all summer long in Dunedin, FL. Wondering if it was the end of my career. And here I stand before you nine years later and seven more years of big league time and I’ve done a lot in between, so.”
FAVORITE MOVIE: “Hmmmm. I’ll go with One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.”
MUSICAL TASTES: “Springsteen, medium rock & roll. I prefer older over the newer stuff. I’m still into 70’s and 80’s music.”
FAVORITE MEAL: “Rigatoni a la vodka.”
FAVORITE BREAKFAST CEREAL: “Raisin Bran.”
FAVORITE ICE CREAM FLAVOR: “Strawberry.”
PREGAME FEELING: “Nervous. The energy is also channeled to excitement. Visualize the night before. I believe in it. I visualize the lineup and me executing the pitch that I wanted to throw to that particular player. And see a positive result. Most all of my visualization is a perfect game [laughs]. Maybe I’ll occasionally give up a hit in my visualization, but. We’re playing Arizona tonight. I’ll see Tony Womack. He’s a lefty. I know he can’t handle a breaking ball. So I’ll visualize that first pitch curveball for a strike. I see it. I see the umpire’s strike. And now I’m gonna throw him a slider. A little bit off the plate, if he swings, fine. Then I’m gonna get back to the curveball. Then I throw a fastball inside. And strike him out with a curveball. I can see that right there. Then I’ll go to the next guy. Usually just go through the lineup just once. The nervousness and fear is more or…not afraid of them…it’s how’s my stuff? Am I gonna throw strikes? Am I gonna walk everybody? Oh my god, I don’t want to embarrass myself. It’s not, Oh my god I’m afraid of them! They’re gonna kick my ass! No.”
CLOSEST BASEBALL FRIENDS: “John Franco, Mike Piazza, Dennis Cook.”
FUNNIEST PLAYERS: “Oh, we have a bunch. Johnny Franco is really good. I like Hampton a lot, he’s funny. Gosh, there’s so many. Derek Bell, he’s out there. Turk Wendell. We’ve got a bunch.”
TOUGHEST COMPETITOR: “Mike Piazza. I like the way Lenny Harris goes about it. Lenny’s really tough in there. Joe McEwing…I like the way he goes about it. Watch this guy (Piazza) tonight. If he hits a ground ball in the infield. One of the biggest stars in the game. And he’ll run out every ground ball. Doesn’t sound like much but there’s some lazy bastards in this league. That can’t even run out a friggin ground ball. This guy doesn’t have to do that. He sets a good example.”
FAVORITE ATHLETES: “Dan Marino, now retired. I live in South Florida. My main reason of going to the games was to watch Dan play. Allen Iverson does some neat things. Randy Johnson when he played for the Mariners…in the Kingdome, in the visitor’s dugout. The scariest thing. Because the dugout’s really close. And it’s a predominantly righty lineup, because you’re not gonna have lefty’s in there. And he’s throwing 100 mph. And at any moment that ball can come flying in the dugout. And knock your head off! And he’s a big guy. So Randy was always impressive to watch. Greg Maddux. To watch him with good stuff, not great stuff, be one of the greatest pitchers who ever played, to me is very impressive. More so than Randy throwing. Because with Randy you can see why he’s good.”
PEOPLE MOST ADMIRED: “Giving people. First of all, eliminate negativity. I think negativity is a complete downer. Most of the time when people are negative or looking for criticism all the time, they’re not happy people. So you want an uplifting person. That’s obviously fun and a jokester. And someone who realizes in giving back. Not only monetary, but when they see somebody down, needing a pickup, they have that quality of going in and identifying that and help people out.”

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