Off the field, athletes are the same as you and me. They have hobbies and interests that they pursue when they aren’t getting paid millions of dollars to throw and hit a ball. It is not surprising to learn that your favorite professional sports figure makes home videos about his foot fetish (sorry Jets fans), raises dogs for illicit purposes (sorry Michael Vick), or whatever other hobbies and activities he or she might be interested in. In Nick Swisher’s case, his love off the field appears to be music. This isn’t rare either. Former Yankees slugger Bernie Williams has released two full-length instrumental guitar albums and another Yankee, Paul O’Neill, would often warm up in the clubhouse by riffing on his drum kit. And let’s not forget Reds pitcher Bronson Arroyo’s awful rendition of “Dirty Water” from his Red Sox days. So what’s so special about Nick Swisher’s musical aspirations? The charismatic Yankees right fielder will soon join the likes of Raffi and Sharon, Lois and Bram when he releases his very own children’s album next week.
I am not making this up. I came upon this story the other day while reading one of my favorite blogs, The LoHud Yankees Blog. Interestingly enough, my first thought was… yeah of course he’s making a kids album. If you don’t know what I mean, then you haven’t been watching Nick Swisher play every day for the last two-and-a-half seasons. It really has been a pleasure watching Nick play, and not just because he’s hit 72 home runs and driven in 233 runs in his time here. Is there anyone who loves playing baseball more than Nick Swisher? Furthermore, is there anyone who loves playing and living in New York more than him?
I didn’t always like Nick Swisher. When he came up with the Oakland A’s, I took his over-exuberance as obnoxious, and I thought he was a total douchebag (maybe it was the hair). Also, I felt like he wasn’t good enough to be as cocky as he seemed to be. When he got traded to Chicago for the 2008 season and stunk up the joint (.219 batting avg), part of me was kind of happy. I thought oh good, this guy’s gonna be out of baseball in a couple years and we won’t have to hear about his antics.
Then, just before the 2009 season, the Yankees traded for him. Immediately, I went into my positive Yankees fan mode. He had a bad year in Chicago, was injured and didn’t get along with the manager. In New York, with a new manager and in the Yankees already impressive lineup (this was a couple months before Teixeira signed too), he’s bound to improve. Also, you can’t be a flamboyant douche bag on the Yankees. Along with shaving everything that doesn’t grow on your upper lip, I’m pretty sure you can’t have a personality, right? We’ll clean this hippie up, get him a haircut and a suit, and he’ll be good to go.
What followed was one of the most pleasant surprises I have ever received as a Yankees fan. It turns out Swisher isn’t a cocky douche bag at all. He just realizes, and embraces, the fact that he’s getting paid millions of dollars to play a game. He plays with a perpetual smile on his face and enjoys every minute he spends on a baseball diamond. He has even helped to change the entire “stuffy business” culture that dominated the Yankees clubhouse throughout the Joe Torre era. The team is looser now and they seemingly have more fun. Swisher even rocked a faux-hawk (Swish-hawk) for most of 2010, skirting around the Yankees hair-cut rules.
Not only has Nick embraced the Yankees emblem, but he has embraced the entire culture of New York City, and everything his celebrity has brought to his doorstep! He has been in TV commercial endorsements and has even appeared on a couple of sitcoms. Furthermore, he’s used his celebrity to give back to the community with his charity, Swish’s Wishes, which is dedicated to enriching the lives of children with vital health issues in the New York area. The children’s album is just his latest charitable endeavor.
A portion of the profits from the album, titled “Believe”, will go to Swish’s Wishes as well. I was kind of curious to hear a track or two, so I went to amazon.com to see if I could preview some of them. Luckily they had snippets available of all the tracks on the album. You can’t hear too much of the background singers, or the celebrity guest voices, but Swisher doesn’t sound half bad! The track list is made up of classic pop songs (Hang On Sloopy, Won’t Back Down, Proud Mary) and its something I could see giving to my niece and nephew. It’s cooler than Kids Bop, or whatever those terrible compilation CDs on television are called.
So here’s to Nick Swisher: Baseball player, actor, philanthropist, humanitarian and now recording artist. Album dropped yesterday, August 9th… do it for the kids.
feature image courtesy of the Associated Press
2nd image courtesy of: Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images
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