File this one under amazing transformations. Former major leaguer Dmitri Young made a rare appearance at The Great American Ballpark on Friday night to visit two of his former teams — the Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals — and had everyone talking about his slimmed down new look.
During his playing days, Young was listed at 6-foot-2, 295 pounds, which according to MLB.com tied him for the third-heaviest player in MLB history. Only Walter Young (320) and Jumbo Diaz (315, now 278) weighed more. Current Red Jonathan Broxton is listed at the same weight as Young.
He's obviously nowhere near that weight now.
To most of us who remember Young from his 13-year MLB career, the man affectionately known as "Da Meathook" was a fantastic hitter and an interesting character. He was a two-time All-Star. He was a .292/.351/.475 lifetime hitter with 171 home runs, which isn't bad at all. But most of all, he always seemed liked a fun-loving guy who truly enjoyed playing the game.
Unfortunately, he never quite reached the potential many felt he had, mainly because of the weight issues he constantly battled. He had his best season in 2007 at age 33, hitting .320 with 38 doubles and 74 RBIs, but the injuries really started piling up. He dealt with wrist, back and quadriceps injuries and only appeared in 75 games during the 2008 season,
In 2009, he was unable to find another chance in MLB.
In 2010, he officially retired from baseball.
In 2011, he lost his mother, and decided it was time to dedicate himself to losing weight and getting healthy. Here's what he had to say to the Washington Post in December 2011 about his weight loss, which at that point was 70 pounds.
“My girlfriend and I went to the doctor, he checked me out, because after my mom passed, I didn’t want to go down that same path,” Young said. “There’s a lot of life to live. Went to the doctor, he told me a couple simple things. You want to get off the needle, you need to lose a couple inches around the waist. I was like, forget that, let’s lose six."
As for his weight-loss secret, you’ll never believe it.
“Diet and exercise,” Young said. “As funny as that sounds, it’s true. I cut down on meals, on the size of the meals, four or five [smaller] meals a day, did a lot of cardio, and the biggest thing is staying with it. That’s the hardest thing that people do. You cannot take a day off. And because I didn’t take a day off, I’m in this great shape now, and this is it for me. I’m not gonna see that other side of me any more.”
Young was hoping to make a comeback in 2012, which unfortunately never materialized. Had he made the effort a couple years earlier, there's no doubt he could have remained productive. But at least he's happy now and doing well, even if few people recognize him.
That hat, by the way, is awesome and one of the many reasons why Dmitri Young is awesome too.
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