Oakland Athletics right-hander Huston Street was recently spotted at Chicago's U.S. Cellular Field carrying a doubled plastic bag full of water bottles out to the field. Such drudgery is usually work for a rookie, but Street is a bit different than most ballplayers.
"Hey," Street says. "I got to take care of my boys."
Street came into the big leagues with a few years of college under his belt, winning a national championship with the Texas Longhorns as a freshman.
Street won AL rookie of the year in 2005, but he has endeavored to work on more than just his game in the pro ranks. He's into wine, he plays the guitar and — despite the fact he won't turn 25 until August — has a world view like that of 10-year veteran. He still needed a little guidance to get through Answer Man — thank you, teammate Andrew Brown — but Street was able to finish like the closer he is.
Q: What's the word on the Street?
Huston Street: The word. I don't know. What is it? I'm not sure; I've never been asked that question and been required to give a meaning to it.
Q: Anybody ever ask you, "Hey, what's in the guitar case?"
HS: It's a Taylor 8 Series acoustic electric. It's a pretty solid guitar and I try to play as much as I can.
Q: Where are you in your musical evolution?
HS: I'm like a third-grader. I think I can say my A-B-C's; I know most of the chords.
Andrew Brown: What kind of third-grader were you? That's a low third grade. Is that a home school third grade?
HS: It's a metaphor, Andrew!
Andrew Brown: When I was in third grade, we were doing multiplication tables, stuff like that.
HS: Brownie was home-schooled. "The word on the Street?" if that can be my answer, "Andrew Brown was home-schooled." This is going on Yahoo! by the way.
Andrew Brown: I don't care. You've got the musical talent of a kindergartener, you said.
HS: Third-grader, I said.
Andrew Brown: Oh, yeah. Your A-B-C's. You learn your A-B-C's when you're, like, 4.
HS: Yeah, but this is not your interview.
Q: It's becoming his interview.
Andrew Brown: Sorry. It was kind of funny, though, what he said.
Q: Because we were doing cursive writing by second grade.
Andrew Brown: Yeah! And A-B-C's in Texas.
HS: I was going to progress with my answer, but I got cut off.
Andrew Brown: George Bush's state.
HS: George Bush was the president of this country for eight years. You can make fun of him all you want, but he did get re-elected.
Q: Have you ever had a problem tipping your pitches?
HS: No (sighs). Thankfully.
Q: What about tipping your waitress?
HS: No, I'm a big tipper. I believe ... I get in trouble all the time. My wife thinks I'm too generous. I usually leave between 25-33 percent.
Q: [Impressed] Wow. What deserves a big tip?
HS: I like politeness. I don't like to be bothered too much. I want them to get down there and get my drink; when I'm ready to order, I want them to be there within two minutes; I want them to ask me one time during my meal, "How ya' doin'?"; and I want them to deliver the check so I can pay at my convenience. And that's it. But if someone's too talkative ... and if you don't refill my water, because I drink water, and if they don't refill my drink, that usually lowers it down to the lower ends of my tipping.
Q: You've never not given a tip because service was bad?
HS: No. A very smart person once told me that, "A small tip is the reflection of the service. No tip is a poor reflection of yourself." If I've had really bad service, which everybody has, I usually leave a small tip. Not less than 10 percent. Maybe they'll just think I'm cheap, but oh well.
Q: What about pimping your pitches?
HS: No. Heck, no. That's probably one of my biggest pet peeves in baseball; act like you've been there before. You make a good pitch to strike somebody out in a big situation, you can have emotion. You can get excited. Sometimes you can't help it. But as far as showing up the other person or the game and pretending that you're the cat's meow and no one's ever done it as good as you? There's always been someone better, and there always will be.
Q: Is your first name spelled that way because of Huston-Tillotson University in Austin?
HS: No [laughs]. My parents, like all people from Texas, are very proud of their state and wanted me to have a name that resembled it; they wanted me to have a "Texas" name but didn't want people to think I was named after the city, so they took the "O" out.
Q: You don't talk like you're from Texas.
HS: No, I don't. Maybe it's because I'm from Austin. It's a pretty laid-back place that's got all kinds of shapes, sizes and colors. It's a great city for that reason.
Q: Come the day you buy a house, should you plan a room decorated only with pictures of you in front of "Huston St." signs from all over the United States?
HS: Ha! I will never have a room dedicated to me. Never. Ever. The closest I will ever have will be like a boys room with pictures of all the old-time greats. Gehrig and Ruth and Mantle.
Q: To save time and prevent cramping during autographs, shouldn't you abbreviate your last name to "St."?
HS: I feel like I've got a pretty solid signature. Well, Tommy Lasorda once pointed out, about all of the big-time autographs — Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Nolan Ryan — and he told all of us when I was on Team USA. He goes, look at this: not one of you has come close to matching any of the accomplishments of any one of these guys, yet every one of them takes the time to spell out their entire name. Until you are better than any of these guys, then you need to do the same. So, I continue to spell out my entire name.
Q: Imagine for a moment that you, Huston Street, are not a person but instead a road.
— Where do you begin, where do you end?
HS: "Where do I begin, where do I end?" That's a great question. My road starts and ends in Austin. I love that city. I probably begin in Austin and I drive, via an amazing sub-sea tunnel, to Sydney, Australia, and then I make an immediate U-turn back to Austin. It would be awesome. It would be a clear tunnel, so you could see underwater life.
— How many lanes?
HS: I like two-lane roads, one lane each way — with dots, so you can pass. No one likes to get stuck behind someone else going slower than they need to.
— What's your speed limit?
HS: I don't have one.
— How much is the toll?
HS: There is no toll. You ride for free, as long as you ride safe.
— How do we pay for this amazing tunnel without a toll?
HS: How do we pay for this [sighs]? Goodness. I was going to say ... Do we? I didn't know I had to pay for it.
— I'm not saying you, but someone's going to have to.
HS: Oh! Well, people are pretty generous. We'll just take a dollar from every person in the world.
— When are you going to fix these damn pot holes?
HS: There are no potholes because the road's underwater and there are hardly any cars. It's going to last a long time.
— How often will we pass a McDonald's?
HS: I'm a big Sonic guy.
Q: What's your favorite intersection?
HS: My favorite intersection in the entire world. Probably going to say First and Congress in Austin, because you've got a bridge, you've got a lake, you've got a perfect view of the capital.
HS: You need to pay attention to the head's body language. If you're banging your head back and forth, that's the encore. If you're staring straight ahead like you're undefeatable, then you're a Longhorn.
Andrew Brown (he's back): Is "undefeatable" a word?
HS: It is a word in my dictionary.
Q: If you were the Bears, would you have cut Cedric Benson?
HS: No. Because he's a Longhorn. And we prevail.
Q: Your rookie hazing outfit. Did it concern you that it looked too sexy?
HS: Zito took a picture of me. He made me pose — from a funny angle — and they dressed me up as a girl. It was a little bit scary because he told me I was an attractive female.
Q: Aren't there way too many letters in Justin Duchscherer's last name for what it's trying to accomplish?
HS: Yeah. One too many "ER's." I think it should be, just, "D-U-K-E-S-H-E-R. Duke-sher."
Q: What is he the Duke of, again?
HS: Probably of Being Worried. I think he's a lot better now that he's starting. When he pitches, he's not nervous. Just the anticipation. Duke, he paints with a little brush, too. He's so good at control.
Q: Magglio Ordonez. Don't you just want to have a couple guys hold him down and give him a haircut?
HS: Magglio, Jeez. Who was the guy with the big hair?
Q: Carrot Top?
HS: No... Delilah and ... Samson. It's kind of his go-to.
Q: Where on Earth is Erubiel Durazo?
HS: Is he with us?
Q: I don't know. That's why I asked. Thought you might know.
HS: Ruby was awesome. I played with him for half of one season . He had the elbow surgery or whatever he had. I saw him at the beginning of spring training, I think it was last year. Then I haven't seen him since. He was a good guy, though.
Q: How did "Inning By Inning" turn out, the movie about Augie Garrido?
HS: You know, I haven't had a chance to sit down and watch it. My friend, Richard Linklater made that, and Augie is my coach and someone I really respect. My buddies watched it and said it was awesome. I really respect what Richard does. He's really one of the nicest, most down-to-Earth creative genius-type people I've ever been around.
Q: Why are you the water bottle delivery man during batting practice?
HS: I felt like I wanted water during BP, and if I should have one, then everybody should have it. So I started bringing it out there every other day. Then everybody started liking it so much that I started delivering every day. Got to keep my boys hydrated.
Q: You've double-bagged a plastic grocery bag full of water bottles on the road; but you have a backpack at home?
HS: Yeah, they had a giveaway at the ballpark where they put my name and number on a backpack, so I figured, why not just use that as my carrying case? Usually, backpack goes with us, but I've forgotten to pack it the past two road trips.
HS: No! Wait a second. A cooler is actually a vehicle. I mean, how many people can it ride?
Q: Just the driver. It's just a cooler — like that chest over there, but smaller — that you put drinks in, and it's got an engine and a steering wheel.
HS: That's just how lazy we've gotten in this country. I want to hand-deliver everything.
Previous Answer Men:
• Hunter Pence - April 10 • Justin Morneau - April 17 • David Wright - April 24 • Erin Andrews - April 25 • Andy Van Slyke - May 1 • Derek Jeter - May 8 • Bob Uecker - May 15 • Bert Blyleven - May 22 • Torii Hunter - May 29 • Joba Chamberlain - June 3 • Larry Bowa - June 13 • Zack Greinke - June 20 • Kerry Wood - June 26