Duchscherer's holiday memories
Righty talks about gifts he's received and presents he's given
Justin Duchscherer made a successful transition from the A's bullpen to the rotation in 2008, earning a spot on the American League All-Star team as a starter three years after making the team as a setup man.
His season was cut short for the second year in a row by a right hip injury that required surgery, so he's spent much of the offseason rehabbing in anticipation of being at full strength for the start of Spring Training. But with the end of the year upon us, Duchscherer stepped away from baseball for a few minutes to share some fond -- and not-so-fond -- holiday memories with MLB.com.
MLB.com: What are your best memories of the holidays from when you were growing up?
Duchscherer: I grew up in Lubbock, Texas, with two older brothers, Jared and Jason, and when I was 10 years old, my parents had just split before Christmas. And we had no money, so we didn't think we were going to get anything. But my aunt, my mom's sister, who every year before that had sent us a box of See's Candies, sent us a Nintendo video game system, and we all went crazy. I mean, we went from thinking we were getting nothing to getting the best present ever. That's why I'm such a video game junkie to this day.
MLB.com: What's your favorite thing about the holidays now?
Duchscherer: I've got a 5-year-old son, Evan, and buying him toys is the best thing about Christmas for me. He's really into Star Wars right now, so I'm probably going to get him a Star Wars Lego set.
MLB.com: What's the best present you ever received when you were a kid?
Duchscherer: The Nintendo was awesome, but I remember when I was really, really young, I got a Nerf basketball set, and I used to shoot that thing all day long. I think that's how I learned touch and feel, now that I think about it. I'd just lie on floor and throw it up and try to get as close to the ceiling without hitting it, and I think that might be how I learned how to manipulate the baseball.
MLB.com: Any present you always wanted but didn't get?
Duchscherer: One year I wanted a radio-controlled car and I got a remote-control car with a wire instead. I was 6 or 7, and I was pretty upset. The radio-control car, you just stand there and it goes anywhere you want, but with a wire attached to this other thing I had to follow it around everywhere, and the wire wasn't very long. I think my parents were pretty mad at me because I threw a fit. Looking back now, I feel bad about it
MLB.com: What's the worst present you ever received?
Duchscherer: I always hated getting clothes because you couldn't play with clothes. I mean, you open up a box and get a pair of jeans, and it's like, "Sweet. Jeans. This stinks." When you're a kid, you just don't get it, that it's important to have new clothes, but back then, I didn't care. I wanted to play with my presents.
MLB.com: What's the best present you ever gave?
Duchscherer: I've given a couple TVs the past couple years. I got my mom a 50-inch plasma last year. And this year I got my dad a 46-inch LCD that I gave him early. I'm watching it right now at his house, actually. Now that I have some money, I always give electronics, because that's the expensive stuff that a lot of people can't afford. So two years ago I got my brother Jared an Xbox 360, and I got him a PlayStation last year.
MLB.com: What's the worst present you ever gave?
Duchscherer: I don't really buy stuff people don't like. I don't think I've ever given a gift that someone thought was bad. Or maybe they just hid that they thought it was bad. But I think I do pretty well.
MLB.com: Does your family have any special holiday traditions?
Duchscherer: Not particularly. When we were younger and my parents were together, we'd bake a ham and open our presents on Christmas Eve. And there was this little community in Lubbock where I think the homeowners' association had some kind of mandate that everyone had to hang lights, so we'd eat the ham, go look at all the lights and then go home and open presents.
MLB.com: How important is it for you to get away from your preparation for the upcoming season to appreciate and enjoy the holiday?
Duchscherer: It makes a huge difference for me. I don't think people realize what a grind the baseball season is, so it's huge to get away for a while. I still work out every day, but it's different. And the time with my son is really important to me. I get to see a lot of my family this time of year, but obviously being with Evan is the best.
MLB.com: And finally, do you make New Year's resolutions, or have you given up on those?
Duchscherer: I do make resolutions, but usually they have to do with training, like putting on weight or getting to a certain weight on the bench press. When I signed my first contract, I weighed 145 pounds, so I've always been really skinny, and a lot of my resolutions are work-related like that. The personal stuff, I've given up on that.
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.