1 Unknown Fact About 20 of MLB's Biggest Stars

Kerry MillerCollege Basketball National AnalystJuly 19, 2013

1 Unknown Fact About 20 of MLB's Biggest Stars

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    Jake Peavy has been discussed in just about every trade rumor over the past few weeks, but did you know that he is legally blind without his contacts?

    Despite dealing with attention deficit disorder, Adam LaRoche looks pretty comfortable at first base on a daily basis, but would you believe he feels even more at home in a deer stand?

    Clearly "unknown" is a bit of an exaggeration if I was able to locate all of these details on the internet, but there's a good chance that most of these details are foreign to most fans, unless you're Vin Scully.

    Did Cole Hamels win a middle school spelling bee? Is there evidence that Troy Tulowitzki is also a culinary master in the offseason? If so, share these little-known factoids about our favorite All-Stars in the comments!

    Here are a few new things to learn about these MLB players.


    *Disclaimer: The internet is what it is. Though I was able to locate what seem to be reputable links for each of these details, I can't 100 percent guarantee that they're all true.

Adam Jones: Door-to-Door Salesman

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    All-Stars come from all walks of life.

    Some are born into families who are willing and able to spare no expense in making sure that their budding boy has every opportunity to fulfill his dreams of playing in the major leagues.

    Adam Jones was not one of those people.

    "As a kid, he sold candy, door to door, to make money to buy lunch at school."

    Having emerged from a less-than-optimal situation, it makes sense that Jones would be the type of player to give back to his community enough to become a finalist for the Roberto Clemente Award.

Marlon Byrd: Near Amputee

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    In a rare display of complete transparency from a professional athlete, Marlon Byrd opened up about the compartment syndrome that almost caused him to lose a leg while in college.

    Three days of leg pain nearly turned into a death sentence, as Byrd was told the condition was causing his muscles to die and an infection to spread.

    Aggressive surgeries and even more aggressive dietingByrd claims to have lost 90 pounds in five months after being told that the "injury" was career-endingled to a full recovery and a long career in the major leagues.

    Go ahead and give that story of perseverance a read for motivation to go to the gym.

Jake Peavy: Blind as a Pitch

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    Plenty of major league players have less than perfect vision, but they all use corrective lenses.

    Jake Peavy uses them now, but there was a stretch of a few months during the 2006 season where he couldn't even tell what pitches his catchers were calling.

    For some silly reason, he was given a new prescription during spring training but was unable to get the necessary contacts until August.

    Strangely enough, he was batting .214 with two home runs when his lenses finally arrived, and he hasn't hit another home run since.

Dustin Pedroia: Bigfoot Believer

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    Baseball players are among the most ritualistic and superstitious people on the planet.

    But Sasquatch supporters?

    As it turns out, Dustin Pedroia is something of an avid viewer of Finding Bigfoot, and has tried to get fellow teammates on the bandwagon.

    He tweeted on March 17:

    "Finding Bigfoot in Oregon let's go @JacobyEllsbury @kelseyellsbury2 get on board. #Squatchy"

    I wonder if he also believes that Wally is based on an actual green monster?

Ervin Santana and Edinson Volquez: A Rose by Any Other Name

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    We've had (in)famous incidents of baseball players playing under pseudonyms.

    Fausto Carmona left the country a 29-year-old and came back a few months later as 31-year-old Roberto Hernandez. Juan Carlos Ovieda lied about his name and age, posing as a younger Leo Nunez.

    However, Ervin Santana or Edinson Volquez changing identities has been an unknown to the baseball world.

    Evidently, Ervin Santana was originally Johan Santana, but with a well-known Johan Santana already dominating the big leagues in 2003, he decided to change his first name to Ervin. Why Ervin? Why not? Santana said he "just came up with (it)."

    Volquez, on the other hand, underwent two name changes. Though Edinson Volquez by birth, he came to be known by Julio Reyes. "Little Pedro" inadvertently had his name changed to Edison Volquez, and then had to ask for another adjustment a few years later to have the "n" reinserted. 

Jose Altuve: Shortest Man in Baseball

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    Jose Altuve stands all of five feet and five inches tall. That's taller than every girl I've ever dated, but shorter than every MLB player since Freddie Patek retired in 1981.

    His stature has even inspired the website "How Many Altuves?" where one can discover that a mile is actually 974.71 Altuves long.

Joe Mauer: Professional Model

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    Someone must have gone to great lengths to expunge this one from the internet, because I struggled to find photographic evidence anywhere.

    However, there are at least a few links (here's one and another) that document Joe Mauer as having modeled for Perry Ellis during the 2004-05 offseason.

    I don't have the heart or the stomach to introduce "MLB male models" into my browser history, but I can't imagine there are too many instances in recent history of All-Stars moonlighting in non-sports magazines. 

Clayton Kershaw: Philanthropist with a Wicked Curveball

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    Moving from one kind of model to another, there are dozens and dozens of MLB players who give back to the community in one big way or another, but few are more outspoken or hands-on than Clayton Kershaw.

    When he isn't busy striking out his opponent, Kershaw is donating to charities (including his own), traveling to Africa on mission trips, writing about how to make a difference in the world and doing signings for said writings.

    He might be the most kind-hearted person in the history of the game, but he sure is one mean customer on the mound.

Evan Gattis and Tom Wilhelmsen: Baseball as a Second Career

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    The hometown fans know their stories as well as anyone, but let me tell those who don't live in Atlanta or Seattle what Evan Gattis and Tom Wilhelmsen were doing before baseball finally panned out.

    Gattis was a janitor, and there are amazing photos of his company-issued badge to prove it. He walked away from baseball at the age of 19 and spent three-and-a-half years traveling the country and working a bunch of odd jobs.

    And then, because he's the Chuck Norris of baseball, he just decided to come back and starting mashing baseballs. The Braves discovered him in Venezuela and invited him to spring training just a few months ago. The rest, as they say, is history.

    Wilhelmsen's career as a bartender wasn't exactly anymore glamorous, and it started out in an almost identical manner. Simply fed up with the game, Wilhelmsen started traveling the country in 2004 and eventually made a home serving drinks in Tucson, Arizona.

    It would be seven years before he made it back into professional baseball, and yet Wilhelmsen was one of the most reliable closers in all of baseball from roughly June 2012 through this past May.

Alex Rodriguez: Avid Art Collector

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    We've reached a point where we will simultaneously believe anything we hear about Alex Rodriguez while not believing anything we hear about him.

    This little tidbit seems to be legitimately accurate, though.

    Not only has Rodriguez been collecting and showing off his art collection, but he also apparently ruffled some feathers with the art community when he and then-flame Cameron Diaz first started shopping for ways to spend their collective gobs of cash.

    At least they weren't feeding each other popcorn in the gallery. Or maybe they were. I'll believe anything about A-Rod. I'll even believe that he might be coming back to the majors on Monday.

C.J. Wilson: Straight-Edged Racer

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    We've all heard about Josh Hamilton's struggles with drugs and alcohol, but you rarely hear about the guys who have never touched the stuff in their entire lives.

    Scared straight by an uncle with a drug problem, C.J. Wilson became straight edge at the age of 14, living a drug-free but "experience-rich" life.

    Among those rich experiences are his connections with race cars. His contract with the Angels keeps him from racing, but he still owns a racing team and would like to get back behind the wheel when he's done with this baseball business.

The $600 Million Band

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    Bronson Arroyo, often unrecognizable without his signature leg kick, is just one of a few players who also play(ed) instruments.

    Arroyo almost definitely takes it the most seriously of the bunch, though. His cover album "Covering the Bases" was released in 2005. And then of course he sang "Red Hooded Sweatshirt" at the MLB Fan Cave in 2012.

    Behind Arroyo on guitar, we've got Evan Longoria on drums, who is admittedly less of an expert and more of a dabbler, but has been dabbling for a few years.

    Ryan Howard toted a trombone in his high school marching band, Coco Crisp has done a little rapping and Jose Reyes started his own reggae label a few years ago.

    No, I don't know how those five things would possibly fit together into one cohesive musical performance, but it's a fun reminder that a lot of people are much more gifted than us, at least athletically.

Adam LaRoche: Deer Whisperer

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    Quick reflexes and a steady hand not only make Adam LaRoche one of the better-fielding first basemen in the game today, but it makes him quite the hunter in the offseason.

    LaRoche was one of the people responsible for starting Buck Commander, which is evidently an award-winning, big-game hunting show on the Outdoor Channel.

    When he's not hunting wild animals, LaRoche also raises cattle in Kansas.

    Something tells me he'll transition quite smoothly into life after baseball in a few years.

Miguel Montero: Very Proud of His Car

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    I'm going to reveal some behind-the-scenes information on how this article was pulled together: I spent several hours typing the names of popular baseball players into Wikipedia and Google to try to find anything interesting.

    As you can imagine, there were a ton of whiffs. For example, if Buster Posey has done anything other than play sports since the day he was born, I certainly can't find evidence of it.

    The auto-fill option in Google was incredibly unhelpful 99 times out of 100. Usually, it would just be the player's name followed by "girlfriend," "stats," "injury update," "fantasy" or something of the sort.

    But I struck gold with Miguel Montero when I saw "Miguel Montero Ferrari" as one of the related searches.

    I don't even properly appreciate automobiles anywhere near as much as a normal, well-adjusted American man is supposed to, but I certainly appreciated the 70-second video of the photo shoot of Montero with his Ferrari.