San Francisco Giants closing pitcher Sergio Romo played an integral role in last year’s World Series victory, and this year, his signature slider continues to confound hitters. He ranks among the league leaders in saves. At just 5-foot, 10-inches tall, with his manicured beard and infamous antics, Romo is not your typical ball-player. But he is your typical San Franciscan. Endearing and all smiles, Romo talks about his love for the game and for San Francisco. Check out Where's video interview with Romo, and our Q&A with him from our latest issue:
What was your reaction when you were drafted by the Giants in 2005?
I was really proud. It was definitely a moment I had been working for, for a long time. I was very thankful, very appreciative because getting drafted means getting an opportunity to be someone, and getting an opportunity to be someone is all I’ve ever asked for, so I was really proud.
Who was your favorite baseball player when you were a kid?
When I was a kid growing up, I used to like Greg Maddux. Greg Maddux was a guy who was crafty. He could do so many awesome things with a baseball on the mound during a game. I never threw particularly hard and neither did he. He was just a crafty and controlled guy, and that’s just how I was, so I emulated him a lot.
Who is your current favorite baseball player?
Brandon Crawford is definitely my favorite player to watch. The things he’s able to do on a baseball field, defensively, he’s like the professor out there. It’s pretty cool.
What was your favorite major league team when you were growing up?
Wearing Giant's’ gear now, I (ironically) grew up a Dodgers fan. I grew up emulating my father. Everything he liked, I did. So I grew up a Dodgers’ fan like him.
You’ve mentioned that you almost joined the Navy. Did you always want to be a professional baseball player?
I wanted to be an electrician when I was younger. I was really good at math and electronics. When I did want to be in the Navy, I tested to be a sonar tech. I figured I'd be an electrician and coach baseball—not a bad deal.
How did you know you wanted to be a pitcher?
My father. My father is 55 years old and he still plays (baseball) down in Mexico. I tagged along with him when I was growing up. He took me everywhere to watch him play. I credit my father for instilling the game into my life. Pitching-wise, when I got to junior college, they took the bat out of my hands and said "Hey, you’d have a better shot at being a pitcher,” so I just started pitching.
My grandfathers, on both sides (of my family), they were both pitchers, too, so it was just kind of one of those things—destined to be, in the sense.
What is your mentality when you are facing the clean-up hitter in the 9th inning and you are winning by one run?
To be the best, you have to beat the best, so in those moments, you can’t run. Those are the times where you show what you’re made of, so I’m thinking, “Ok, let’s go.” If you’re going to beat me at my best pitch, if you’re going to beat me at my best stuff, I’m thinking “OK, let’s do this, I’m not afraid.”
You have won two World Series with the Giants, one of which you struck out Melky Cabrera for the last out. What has been your favorite moment in baseball?
Outside of my debut and us winning the first World Series, I have four favorite moments in my career—and those are all the clenchers in winning this 2012 World Series: When we clenched against the Padres in the NL West, when we clenched against Cincinnati, St. Louis, and the World Series against Detroit. For me I’ll never forget those moments. Being able to be the last guy standing on the mound to get those last guys out—and then to see my team celebrate the way they did. I definitely had to take a moment each time we were celebrating to just take it in.
Who is your favorite all-time Giant?
Orlando Cepeda. (It's amazing) to watch him hit the baseball opposite the field with power. He’s a guy that, now, I don’t know if I’d be able to get him out or not. I’d like to face him. He’s also a pretty cool dude off the field.
What do you like most about playing at AT&T Park?
Packed crowds. It’s sold out. Everybody shows up. Our fans are amazing. They back us up. Even if we’re not playing very well, they’re here every night.
When you have visitors in town, what do you like to take them to do in San Francisco?
I like to go down to North Beach. There’s a place called Don Pisto’s that I like. It’s an upscale Mexican restaurant. The food is authentic, but it’s modern. I also send people to Union Square. There are so many places to go and things to do. I just tell people to come in general. Just come out.
You have a day off to explore the city—what do you do?
I like to get up to a lookout point, a place with a view, because you have to see the way the fog rolls into the city. Go up on a hill in Sausalito and look at the Golden Gate Bridge.
What do you love most about living here?
I like the diversity, from the people to the food to the way people dress, the way they carry themselves, their personalities. I love how everyone is so freely accepted here.