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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: STEVE KARSAY

When Steve Karsay came to the New York Yankees in 2002, I was psyched. I had followed this guy's career for a few years before and always loved the guys heart and talent. In the back of my mind, I always wanted to have him in the Yankees pen because I knew he'd do some damage. Luckily, it happened.

The Internet is a strange place. While I was tweeting one day, Steve Karsay was tweeting too. I figured, what the hell, I'll reach out. Well, it's not every day that athletes and celebrities reach back, after all, it's the Internet, but Mr. Karsay did and I couldn't have been happier.

It is with great pleasure that I was able to get inside Mr. Karsay's head and bring you our Exclusive Bleeding Yankee Blue Steve Karsay interview. Check it out, you will not be disappointed, and make sure you comment.

Oh, and most of all, Thank you Mr. Karsay for taking the time, for the fans, and for me, a fan as well.

BYB: According to my research, you grew up in Flushing. Were you a Mets fan or Yankee fan at that time?

Steve Karsay: Yes, I did grow up in the town next to Flushing which was College Point. To be quite honest, I was a baseball fan. I rooted for both the Mets and Yankees. I will have to admit, I did go to more Mets games because it was much closer and easier to get to by taking the 7 train just one stop. When having the opportunity to get to Yankees games though, it was definitely special because of all the history that the Old Yankee Stadium had and the players that I use to read about that played for such a storied franchise. I still get chills thinking about walking into Yankee stadium as a kid and knowing that I had what many kid's dream about... stepping foot and playing, in my opinion, in the best or one of the greatest stadiums ever built. I would say only Wrigley and Fenway are a close second.

BYB: Growing up, who was your favorite major league ballplayer and why?

Steve Karsay: Growing up and enjoying the game, I had many favorite players. There were so many it is hard to choose just one. I'll do my best. From the time that I was young, I always liked Thurman Munson and Ron Guidry. Goose Gossage was a favorite to watch as was Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden, Oh and you can't forget Gary Carter. The last one I would have to clump in there would be Roger Clemens and the reason was, I liked to watch him play and compete. For me, to be able to watch these guys and be able to meet them and to actually have a chance to be their teammate was definitely something special.

BYB: I read that you were a starter early on in your career and later developed into a dominant relief pitcher. Why and how did that transition happen?

Steve Karsay: Yes, that is correct. I was a starter when I got drafted by the Blue Jays in 1990 and worked my way to the big leagues in 1993. I was starting, but injuries and a trade from the A's to the Indians is how I developed into the dominant reliever you had mentioned. In 1995, I had Tommy John surgery and at that time, the surgery was not perfected yet and was still a major surgery without knowing if a pitcher was ever going to be the same. It took me 18 months of rehab to get back to the big leagues and was able to get back to the starting rotation with the A's in 1997 and still didn't regain my velocity, so after the 1997 season, they decided to trade me to the Indians. At that point, the GM, John Hart saw my talents and decided to put me in the bullpen in 1998 and let me get used to being a reliever. After all, I was still working to get my velocity back. After the 1998 season, I went to Winter ball in Puerto Rico and at that point, my velocity was better than even I expected and came to Spring Training in 1999 throwing 97-98 MPH. From that point on, I had become a staple in the bullpen role for the rest of my career.

BYB: Yankeeland was excited when you came to the Bronx and you were impressive for us in 2002. What's it like to pitch in Yankee Stadium?

Steve Karsay: Pitching in Yankee Stadium is like no other when you have the Pinstripes on. Coming in and pitching as a visitor was nice, but there is a big difference being from New York and knowing the tradition and what was there before you. Many greats have put there stamp on what Yankee Stadium is with all the Championships that were won over the years. To say it quite simply... to play in front of the greatest fans in the world and to have a dream come true is truly AMAZING.

BYB: You've probably met several amazing Yankee Greats. What's your favorite meeting, who was the Yankee and why is it special to you?

Steve Karsay: Meeting any former Yankee is special. Having the opportunity to be around for Old Timer's Day and meeting the greats like Yogi, Ralph Houk, Ford and many others is like a kid in the candy store. But the ones who were the most special, were the ones whom I grew up watching and playing with, like Goose Gossage and Ron Guidry, when Guidry was an instructor. I got to learn the way to play the game correctly and they taught me how to respect the game as a player.

BYB: What is your favorite moment playing as a New York Yankee?

Steve Karsay: My favorite moment playing as a Yankee would have to be pitching at Yankee Stadium in the 2002 playoffs and getting the win against the Angels. My first Opening Day putting on the Pinstripes would have to be a close second.

BYB: Your last pro game was with the Oakland A's. You pitched against the Dodgers on June 17, 2006 and pitched 2 scoreless innings in a 17 inning game and you got your last win that day. On June 18th, you announced your retirement. Why?

Steve Karsay: This is how that story goes. After having my shoulder surgery in 2003 and having a rigorous rehab, I can truly say my shoulder was never the same. I continued to play, hoping that the pain would subside and I could get back to being a quality pitcher and helping a team win. It is no secret that I struggled in 2005 and 2006, but I was determined to battle and play the game that I love so much. After getting back to the A's in 2006 and pitching 1 month in Oakland, my shoulder again became to painful for it to be fun anymore. I wasn't just going to hang around if I felt in my heart that I couldn't compete at the level I wanted to... a big league level. So at that point, I had a conversation with Billy Beane and told him that it was best for him to get someone that could pitch healthy and help his team win the West. So I decided to retire and have my second shoulder surgery that off-season.

BYB: If fans want to reach out and meet you or get your autograph, how can they do it? Do you make appearances?

Steve Karsay: I do not make appearances anymore unless I am asked to which is occasionally for charity events and golf tournaments. To this day, I still get cards and other things in my mailbox. Not really sure how they get my address, but they do. Unfortunately, I can not give you my address but maybe we could do something through Bleeding Yankee Blue.

BYB: Do you read Bleeding Yankee Blue?

Steve: Karsay: Yes, I do read Bleeding Yankee Blue when I am interested in the article caption, and from what I have seen, you are doing a tremendous job running BYB.

Mr. Karsay, again, it was an honor to interview you and we appreciate the feedback. You're a great New York Yankee and we salute you. May we work together on something in the near future. The Best!

Please comment and let me know what you think and follow me on Twitter @BleednYankeeBlu and join the group Bleeding Yankee Blue on Facebook, just type it in.

5 comments:

  1. Met Steve at a signing in New Jersey a few years back and in Baltimore before a Yankee game. Really super nice guy and was an asset to the team. Awesome that he wrote you guys and you were able to get the interview. Great job as usual!

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  2. Just a striaght up classy guy. It was a pleasure to have him in pinstripes. How amazing it must be to play for the Yankees!!!

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  3. Very cool hearing from Steve! I wish he spent his entire career with the Yankees!

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  4. Steve, do you still do any work with the Yankees?

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  5. Very cool piece. Karsay seems like a stand up guy and it was kind of him to do the interview.

    He was overused in 2002, one of Joe Torre's failings (bless his heart). Might have cost Karsay some years. He was a very, very good relief pitcher.

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