Wright embraces being looked up to as role model
Sitting in a media interview room, perched on a stool behind a Mets backdrop, my assignment wasn't just to interview David Wright.
No, that wouldn't be enough; my 13-year-old brother would have to live vicariously through his big sister for this one.
That would involve me greeting Wright with the words: "My brother wants to tell you that he loves you." That earned me an appreciative chuckle from Wright, and, hours later, a slightly more incredulous one from my brother.
"Tell him I said thank you; I appreciate that," Wright told me with a grin.
Asked about being a role model to my brother and other young ballplayers, the soft-spoken Wright grew even more serious.
"I think that [being looked up to] is something I take seriously," Wright said. "I remember some of my biggest role models growing up besides my parents were baseball players. So I understand that putting this jersey on every day, that I have an effect, whether I like it or not, on kids. And I try to act accordingly and provide at least some sort of positive view of a role model."
You might say my brother's disbelief at being acknowledged by David Wright is akin to David Wright's disbelief at having his name become one that my brother not only knows, but admires.
"I dreamed about [being a baseball player], but I never thought it would become a reality," Wright said. "I always had hoped to be a baseball player, but I always had a backup plan. I tried very hard in school. I made pretty good grades so if the baseball thing didn't work out, then I had some pretty good options to fall back on.
"I have some brothers that went to school to be engineers, I have another brother that has a degree in business, and then my father is a police officer."
But as it ended up, Wright is neither an engineer, nor a businessman, nor a police officer. He is a baseball player.
"I don't know if I actually believed it until it happened. In high school, you never know how good you are. Because yes, I was good in my area, but I didn't know if I was any better than kids in Florida or California or Texas. Even in the Minor Leagues, you never know if you're good enough until you make it here and you have a little bit of success," Wright said.
Success is something Wright hasn't just had a little bit of. Consider that he's a six-time All-Star, a two-time Gold Glover and two-time Silver Slugger, and you might say he's had quite a bit of success.
Oh, and he's only 29 years old.
And with seven years of big league experience tucked under his belt, Wright has acclimated well to the New York air. Would Wright like to be a Met for life?
"I would hope so. You never know what the future holds," Wright said. "I grew up a Mets fan. I was developed by this organization and I've been here eight or nine years now. I love it here. I've made some really, really close friends. Not just players, but coaches, guys that work in the clubhouse, guys that do security for the stadium. I've had some really great relationships and you know, I would love to be part of getting this thing kind of turned around and heading in the right direction."
What's more, Wright is generous with the $55 million he's earning over the course of his current contract with the Mets.
"I think that I learned at a pretty young age that you can have an impact, a positive impact on our community by wearing this jersey," he said. "And we've done some great things for local children's hospitals here in New York and back home in Virginia. Hopefully that just keeps on getting better and better and we continue to raise money for some great causes."
Between maintaining both a .325 batting average and the David Wright Foundation, through which he conducts a great deal of his charity work, one wonders what Wright does in the little spare time he has.
"It's tough to hide stuff here in New York. If you have any skeletons in the closet, they tend to come out here," Wright joked. "I think that I'm rather boring. I think that people expect this crazy lifestyle, and I really just try to go out there and be a normal 29-year-old kid. I really enjoy doing the same things that other 29-year-olds do, and I think that people would be surprised at just how boring I am away from the baseball field."
By his own claim, David Wright might be boring away from the ball field, but when he's on it, he's anything but.
In fact, I'd go so far as to say that Wright is a role model. At least, for one 13-year-old kid I happen to know.
Meggie Zahneis, winner of the 2011 Breaking Barriers essay contest, earned the job of youth correspondent for MLB.com in the fall of '11. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.