By Elise Rosen – 2012 interview
If only the scouts had hit the ball fields of Curacao sooner, there would be many more native players — like Andruw Jones — in the Major League ranks today, because “baseball is really, really big there, and there’s a lot of talent.” So says Jones, who was born in Willemstad, and is one of only a handful of Curacaoans to have forayed into the big leagues, scooped up by the Atlanta Braves in 1993.
A rookie outfielder when the Braves battled the New York Yankees for the championship in 1996, Jones, then 19, became the youngest player ever to homer in the World Series.
Now a ten-time Gold Glove winner and five-time All Star player, Jones signed with the Chicago White Sox for 2010, playing center field and DH.
Events Curacao caught up with Jones at Yankee Stadium on April 30*:
EC: I understand you’ve been working on your game [Jones dropped 25 pounds to get in shape in the off-season]. Can you talk about some of the goals you set?
AJ: I think [the older] you get, the more you’ve got to work on your body, on your physical things. When you’re young, you get up …don’t have to stretch or nothing; you go and play the game, big deal. But now, I just have to really work out, and the off-season is really not much vacation, it’s more… getting ready for the upcoming season.
EC: Do you have any tips for athletes trying to tweak their own game?
AJ: Well…you can have your cheating days, but the main thing is you eat healthy. My main thing I did this year that I felt good about is that I ran a lot… [to] get my legs in shape. It’s a long season, you travel a lot. You’re losing sleep… it’s a hard thing. I mean, the main thing is that you’re still doing something that you love. So it makes it more fun.
EC: What do you consider your most meaningful accomplishment in the game?
AJ: I think when… I retire from baseball, I can really pick one out, but right now I’m still playing the game, so I’m still looking to improve every year.
EC: What are some of your favorite restaurants on Curacao?
AJ: Most of the time I eat at my mom’s house [in Brievengaat, where he grew up]… so I really don’t have a favorite. I love a lot of the [snack] trucks they got out there.
EC: What kind of local food do you like best?
AJ: Conch meat. [And] I’m trying to eat more salad. Because french fries and conch meat is so good. But it’s so bad.
EC: What would you tell visitors to Curacao to see?
AJ: Enjoy the scenery…visit some of the nice [landhouses] they have. Go see the West Side beaches.
EC: What would you have done if you hadn’t gone into baseball?
AJ: Probably worked with machines. I always wanted to work with airplanes.
*Jones scratched due to back spasms.