Beyond Left Field with Norm: John Rocker
John Rockers career was shorter than it should have been. Injures derailed his career. Rocker pitched for Atlanta, Texas, Cleveland, and Tampa Bay in his career. John is active with Save Homeless Vets. He has also written a book “Rocker Scars & Stripes”. Check out his website at www.johnrocker.net
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us.
Not really a whole lot to tell you the truth. I recall one was against Southland Academy who was one of our big regional rivals. I believe I was a Senior then. Another came the first game of my Sophomore year against AA school known as Tri City. To be honest I don’t recall who the 3rd was against. I haven’t thought about that in a long time.
Growing up who were you a fan of? Did you have a favorite player or team?
As far as baseball is concerned I was always a big George Brett and Roger Clemens fan. When it came to football (since I’m more of a college fan than anything else) and am an obnoxious Georgia fan I have always greatly admired Herschel Walker.
What was the most memorable moment of your career?
It was during the 1999 Division Series against the Houston Astros in the old Astrodome. The series was tied at 1 apiece. We were playing a very significant game in the series on our way to what would hopefully be a World Series birth.
I came in during the bottom of the 10th of a tie ballgame, bases loaded, and no outs. I coerced 2 groundballs and a strike out; leaving the winning run stranded on third base. I then struck out the side in the 11th and we went on to win in 12 and ultimately made it to the World Series that year. The excitement and adrenaline from that brief 30 minute period in my life I can’t imagine ever duplicating.
I have no idea and a thought rarely crosses my mind regarding that. I dated an African American woman from 2006-2008. When we met she lived in Chelsea which is considered to be the gayest segment of Manhattan.
I spent about 2 weeks a month for the better part of a year and a half in the City and never had any problems. I always had a good time when I was in town and was always received well wherever I went. So from that experience I would have to say that the relationship between myself and New Yorkers is cool.
What is it like to be warming up in the bullpen and, the bull pen doors open up? What’s going through your mind at that moment?
The only thing going through my mind at that moment was its “time to get after somebody’s ass. Fastballs and uppercuts.” It’s time to attack the challenge and nail down a win for my team.
Are you still involved with Save Homeless Veterans? What do you do for them and tell us more about the organization.
Absolutely. It’s an organization I had a significant hand in starting during the later part of last year. We are a faith based 501 c(3) not-for-profit whose main focus is to bring members of the homeless Veteran community of Atlanta (approximately 5,000 men and women) off the streets and give them a safe, comfortable place to live.
Most of our houses are 4 bedroom, 3 bath or 3 bedroom 2 bath homes in the Dunwoody/Sandy Springs area of the city. These communities are somewhat upscale suburbs with low crime and high employment rates. Once we have “rescued” a homeless Veteran and have him or her in one of our houses, they go through an assessment process by our Director of Pastoral Care, Dr. Scott New to determine what type of issues the individual has which may have caused them to become homeless.
This is known as the intake process whereby Dr. New tries to determine what the Veterans psychiatric condition is, whether or not there are any chemical dependency issues, employment history, military history, family history etc. Once the individual has been assessed they are assigned to one of 6 PHD counselors/mentors within our program to begin addressing their various issues and start putting a life plan together which will allow them to cope with and hopefully overcome the issues that plague them.
As the counseling process is ongoing, SHV has several avenues throughout the community by which we are able to find employment for the Veterans in our program. After employment has been achieved along with regular income, we refer them to another 501 c(3) we have a relationship with known as The Optimum Financial Institute which begins to educate them in areas of fiscal literacy (i.e. how to repair credit, how to budget their income, how to properly fill out job applications and create resumes etc.)
Our program is designed to be about 12-14 months with the overall process being to take a Veteran off the streets; give them a clean, stable living environment; address any psychiatric or chemical dependency issues; address any issues related to fiscal irresponsibility, and achieve stable employment. At the end of the 12-14 month time period we hope that the individual has the life skills and foundation to return to the community with the ability to live a happy prosperous life.
There is no time limit, however, and if a man or a woman does not feel they are capable of being on their own; they are welcome to stay in the program as long as they need to.
2011 you released your autobiography “Scars and Strikes”. How has that done and can you tell us a little about it? Where can we get the book?
The book has been doing pretty well since its release in late 2011 and is getting ready to go into its second printing. It can be found in several book stores in Atlanta and other major cities around the Southeast. It is also in all the online stores such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble. It’s also available in all of the downloadable formats.
The book is in a sense written in two parts. The first part is basically the story of an awkward 13 year old kid that came down with a fanciful notion that he was going to play in the Major Leagues one day. I take the reader on the long winding journey from early adolescence to eventually ending up on top of the mountain in Turner Field.
It chronicles the mental and physical maturation process and details all of the highs and lows and moments of awakening until that long trip had been successfully completed. It also tells the tale of the blindside I took from media in 2000. I discuss what that whole saga was like and set a drastically incorrect perception of me straight by addressing each and every issue the media has vilified me for, for so long.
I basically tell the reader what actually happened in that single faithful interview from a point of view that media will never accept nor publicize. In addition to that I mix in a lot of behind the scenes baseball stories. Stories from the clubhouses, hotels, buses and planes that most people wonder about. “What do Big League ball players do when they’re off the field?”
Do you have any regrets concerning your career?
That I was too stubborn to pull myself off the field or out of the lineup when I was hurt. I basically pitched until my shoulder was so badly damaged it was beyond repair. Maybe had I not been so hard headed and listened to the signs of and rested an injured body I might still be playing.
Last question John, please give us your top five songs of all-time.
Sympathy for the Devil (Rolling Stones)
Whipping Post (Allman Brothers Band)
Dirty Laundry (Don Henley)
Highway to Hell (AC/DC)
Free Bird (Skynard)
Thank you for taking the time to talk with us at 9 Inning Know it All.