Juan Pierre dealt for Strawberry cards02/07/2008 4:14 PM ET
By George Castle / Special to MLBPLAYERS.com
Growing up in Alexandria, La., Juan Pierre was part of a family of baseball fanatics. The family's love of the game was so strong that he was named after Hall of Famer Juan Marichal. Pierre, whose work ethic and preparation are among baseball's best, knew early on that he would not be a home-run hitter. Around the time he was beginning to collect baseball cards, he began following baseball's fleet table-setters and expert batsmen -- with one exception.
MLBPLAYERS.com: When did you first start collecting?
Pierre: I started real early, about 6 or 7. I went wherever Darryl Strawberry went. I got his rookie card. I got his jersey. I was always a sucker when we were trading in the neighborhood. They knew they could get trading cards from me if they had a Darryl Strawberry. I was going with the heart.
I got Dwight Gooden cards, and the whole Mets team. I got the Eric Davis cards. I liked the smaller guys, not all that well known -- Rafael Belliard, Bobby Dernier. I got Wally Joyner and Dave Magadan -- not little guys, but singles hitters. At the time, I tried to emulate them. If I tried to hit the ball in the air, the furthest it went was 10 feet in front of the warning track. I had to learn early.
I had them in albums, and they're still at my mom's house. I went to card shows in Alexandria. I didn't get too many cards from my family, although my uncle had a nice set from 1981 -- Andre Dawson, George Bell, Rickey Henderson.
MLBPLAYERS.com: What happened with all these one-sided card trades?
Pierre: My mom would get mad when I went to these card shows where these guys would get me pretty good (in exchange for Strawberry). One time she actually went back up there and said he's a little kid (to void the trade).
MLBPLAYERS.com: When did you first appear on a card?
Pierre: In 1999 or 2000 Spring Training, I had my first big-league card. I still can't believe it. I still got it. I didn't have a Minor League (individual) card, just team sets. I wasn't a big prospect.
MLBPLAYERS.com: What is your favorite Major League card?
Pierre: Probably the best card, it shows me getting a bunt base hit in the 2003 World Series (as a Florida Marlin). You could see (the Yankees' Jorge) Posada in the background.
MLBPLAYERS.com: What is the most popular card with fans?
Pierre: I get a lot of fan mail with me and my (2006) Cubs card. I don't get much with my Rockies rookie card. Maybe they threw it out.