"It's got to be the hair"
Ken Hoffman pitches 10 questions to Houston Astros star Jake Marisnick
Jake Marisnick’s mother knew.
Back when the Houston Astros centerfielder and resident sex symbol was playing Little League baseball, Jennifer Marisnick told Tristar Productions senior vice-president Bobby Mintz: “One day, my son is going to be signing autographs at one of your shows.”
“It’s true,” Mintz says. “In the early 2000s, Jennifer Marisnick worked for Reynolds Sports Management, who represents Jake today. She brought Jake to our show in Phoenix. He was about 10 years old. When she told me that Jake would sign autographs with us, I told that I hoped she was right. At least his agent would know where to find us!”
Tristar, based in Houston, is an industry leader in sports memorabilia, trading cards, and autograph shows. And true to mom’s word, Marisnick will be scribbling his name on bats and balls for fans at Tristar’s 33rd Annual Collectors Show, June 7-9 at NRG Arena.
Other sports celebrities scheduled to appear at the event include: DeAndre Hopkins, John Manziel, Amari Cooper, Robert Griffin III, Mean Joe Greene, and Marisnick’s Astros buddies — Yuli Gurriel, Ryan Pressly, and Will Harris. Visit the site for a complete list of celebrities, schedules, autograph prices, and ticket information.
I caught Marisnick on the phone in the middle of the Astros taking two out of three from the Red Sox last weekend in Boston. My plan: “10 Questions, just give me the first thought that pops in your head. Let’s hurry, you’ve got a game …”
CultureMap: You’re hitting over .300, that’s 70 points higher than your career average. You’re hitting with power. And still you bat ninth in the lineup? Do the players realize how crazy good, historically good, the Astros are this year?
Jake Marisnick: You look around, up and down the lineup and the bench, and you see a bunch of guys who like to work and want to get better. I don’t think we’re worried about the numbers as much as we’re concerned about improving. I have the chance to pick the brains of some of the best hitters in baseball, so I’m going to take advantage of that.
CM: Astros color analyst Geoff Blum came up with a nickname for you, Jake from Rake Farm. Are you okay with it? Ever have any other nicknames?
JM: Yeah, I think it's pretty funny. I had the nickname Big Fudge back when I was in Double A ball with guys like Christian Yelich. I got the nickname because I was on the disabled list, and they said I was eating everything in sight.”
CM: You’re going to be at the Tristar show signing autographs. I have a few autographed baseballs in my sock drawer, and I have no idea who signed them. The handwriting is so horrible. Are you a good autographer? Do you ever ask other players for their autographs?
JM: Signing baseballs is a little hard sometimes. We get in a routine when we’re signing a lot of baseballs, and I get a little quick with them. But I sign them the best I can and put my number  next to my name. I do send some balls over to the other clubhouse if it’s a player that I like to watch play. But I can make out their autographs so I know who they are.
CM: You're having your best year hitting — by far. The other night the announcers said you worked on some things over the winter and made some changes. What did you do?
JM: Nothing too drastic. The biggest thing was just getting my body synced up. I think I was a little disconnected last year. When you get everything working together you have a little more time to make decisions, and I’m feeling good up there.
CM: You and George Springer both injured your hands sliding head-first into a base. Now some players wear those silly oven mitts. Wouldn't it be smarter to just slide feet-first? One base can’t be worth a season-ending injury, like what happened to you in 2017.
JM: For me it’s a comfort thing. I like those things that runners wear now. I don’t wear one personally, but they definitely protect our hands. That’s the biggest thing we’re worried about when you’re sliding head-first. But I’m more comfortable sliding headfirst.
CM: Baseball is experimenting with new rules in the minor leagues, like limiting mound visits, relief pitchers have to face at least three batters and electronic balls and strikes. Are you okay with these changes?
JM: I like the baseball how it’s played now. It’s been around for a long time. I do think the players have to do a little better job being quicker, maybe a little more decisive with some of the things we’re doing, to speed the games up. I wouldn’t change the rules too much, though.
CM: You’re an incredible centerfielder. When you were a kid, did you dream about hitting a walk-off home run or making a game-saving catch diving over the fence?
JM: I think everybody grows up thinking about hitting home runs.
CM: We hear a lot how the Astros have the best clubhouse in baseball, everybody gets along, and it's fun in there. Is that accurate? Who's the ringleader in the clubhouse?
JM: We have a lot of guys who have grown as players in the big leagues together. I wouldn’t say we have one ringleader. George, Altuve, Bregman … we all have a lot of fun in there. It’s a collective effort. We’ve grown into a family, and we support each other and love each other like a family does. It makes it a lot easier to come to the ballpark every day.
CM: When you’re on the road, do you ever react to fans yelling at you from the centerfield stands?
JM: Yes, they have some fun with you and try to get under your skin a little bit. Some are having fun and it’s playful, other get too aggressive with it. For the most part, it’s fun and I’ll interact with them once in a while if they don’t go over the line.
CM: Here we go, what do you think about being the team sex symbol? Do you hear women screaming when you take off your cap?
JM: I get a hard time from our boys in here, the team. I know I get a little extra cheers from women, and I’ll start laughing. It’s got to be the hair, I’m guessing.
Meet Marisnick at Tristar’s 33rd Annual Collectors Show, June 7-9 at NRG Arena; 1 NRG Pkwy.