I Used to Be Somebody: (Un)Retirement Lessons Learned

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Sam McDowell Interview: All-Star Player with Hall of Fame Second Act

Diana Landau | May 10, 2022

This week Carl interviews baseball legend "Sudden Sam" McDowell. After a record-setting career as a Major League pitcher for the Cleveland Indians, San Francisco Giants, New York Yankees and the Pittsburgh Pirates, Sam embarked on a stellar second act as a sports psychologist and motivational speaker, creating addiction and recovery programs for players (and their families) in all sports. He had many ups and downs in his own baseball career, however. "My career was fueled by alcohol and addiction," he shares. Sam is also author of the book, "The Saga of Sudden Sam: The Rise, Fall and Redemption of Sam McDowell."
 
Growing up, Sam's family (including his 6 siblings) lived in Pittsburgh, PA. Sam's focus was sports. He played baseball, basketball, tennis and ran cross-country. (Fun Fact #1: His father was a football quarterback in the Rose Bowl.) At the young age of 17, the Cleveland Indians recognized his talent and he was recruited with a big signing bonus. By the time he was 18, he was already pitching in the major leagues. Sudden Sam became a star, a six-time All-Star and led the American League in strikeouts five times. By 1971, he injured his rotator cuff and his decline continued. "I didn't retire, I was kicked out," says Sam. The anxiety and depression that came from the pressure of being such a young superstar took a toll and his drinking continued.

 

After a short career in real estate and then in insurance, Sam hit rock bottom, losing his wife, family and mountains of debt from a failed business venture. The turning point came when he moved in with his mother. "I woke one morning at 3am and felt in my heart like something beat me." He made a call to a recovery center that morning. (Fun Fact #2: TV Show "Cheers" based their Sam Malone character on Sam.)
 
After learning in recovery that alcohol is a genetic disease, he says the lights went on. His own therapist encouraged him to become a sports psychologist and help other players with addiction and recovery. Sam attended Harvard's continuing education program in sports psychology and eventually was hired by the Texas Rangers to be their sports psychologist, a first in any sport. After a very successful second career in baseball, now at age 80, he continues to help players and former players in all sports through his programs. He has two World Series rings to show for it from the '90s. "The Toronto Blue Jays felt I was valuable in helping them win it all!"
 
Sam's Advice on (Un)Retirement Success:
  • Financial security: "It is extremely important. You must be honest and realistic with yourself. Be sure to consult a financial planner—you may live until you're 90!"
  • Cheering has stopped: "Yes, you had a successful career. Accept it. Now go on."
  • Second act: "Get a hobby, volunteer, play sports. Where does self-worth come from? Set out to accomplish a goal, then do it. This builds your self-esteem."
 
• More about Sudden Sam McDowellClick Here for more unretirement ideas
The Saga of Sudden Sam: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of Sam McDowell
• Sponsored by Capital Advantage
• Sponsored by Gary Sirak's How to Retire and Not Die
 
Diana Landau is the Content Wrangler for Pickleball Media. After 15 years in corporate marketing, in 2012 she pivoted to write and wrangle content for Niche Media's weekly blog. She now manages the “I Used to Be Somebody” weekly blog.
 
Tags:    blog   interview   major league   baseball   redemption   financial security  

Renel Brooks-Moon Interview: Former Radio Personality Breaks Barriers as Baseball Announcer

Diana Landau | February 01, 2022

This week Carl interviews the remarkable Renel Brooks-Moon. If you haven't heard of her, you probably know her famous voice. Renel has been a big-time radio personality in the San Francisco/Bay Area for over two decades, one of the major markets in the country. For her second act, she is now the public address announcer for the San Francisco Giants. She has earned a spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame as the first woman in history to be the public address announcer for a World Series game and championship game in ANY professional sport. (Note: Carl has a super-fan gush going on in this interview.)

 

Renel was born and raised in the Bay Area and loved to entertain, even as a young child. She comes from a family of trailblazers—her father was the first black high school principal in San Francisco and her mother was also an educator. She gets her deep sense of community service from her parents, who were long-time community activists. She went to Mills College and after graduation started an entry-level job for a Bay Area radio station, eventually doing every single job there. “I fell in love from Day One,” she tells us. She was finally offered a nightspot on air in 1985, not expecting it to ever become a career. But everything clicked. “Once I turn on that microphone, it’s where I belong!”

 

Renel went on to have a very successful career in radio, meeting Luther Vandross, Mariah Carey, Tina Turner and even singing once with Lionel Richie. Renel was in her element. When she got the call from the San Francisco Giants, she blazed a trail again. She feels a responsibility to be a role model for girls and women in both radio and major league sports. “When I was a little girl, there was no representation for that.” She inspires little girls everywhere to go after their dreams. Renel notes, “For some reason, I ended up in two very male-dominated professions, but I love the work.”

 

She’s had many highlights in her second act, whether it’s making history, interviewing baseball legends or giving her voice and influence to community service. Now, after 22 seasons with the Giants, Carl asks her what her third act might be. “Who knows? I've always wanted to have my own talk show!” We won't be surprised when that happens.
 
Renel’s (Un)Retirement Tips:
Network: “Networking is very important, no matter what your career is or where you are in it. Every job I've had is because of a relationship.”
Serve your community: "The most rewarding part of any job I've had is to use my voice for community service.”
Try it now: "If you've had something you've always wanted to do since childhood, and you are still thinking about it, there’s no reason not to try it now.”
Keep moving: “Stay on top of it. Take care of yourself, listen to your body. Mental health is just as important as physical health.” 
 
• More about Renel Brooks-Moon
• Sponsored by Capital Advantage
 
Diana Landau is the Content Wrangler for Pickleball Media. After 15 years in corporate marketing, in 2012 she pivoted to write and wrangle content for Niche Media's weekly blog. She now manages the “I Used to Be Somebody” weekly blog.

 

Tags:    interview   blog   baseball   san francisco   world series   san francisco giants   unretirement  

Dr. James Beckett Interview: Sports + Math = Amazing Success!

Diana Landau | January 26, 2021
Carl interviews the one and only Dr. Jim Beckett. Dr. Beckett has lived quite a life—and as he says, “I had a childhood hobby that grew into a successful business and now I'm turning back into a hobby!”
 
He is currently the CEO of Beckett Interests Inc. of Dallas, Texas. He is the founder of Beckett Publications Inc., the world's largest sports and entertainment collectibles publisher, and served as its CEO from 1984 until selling the company for a reported $20 million in January 2005.

Beckett Publications' titles included Beckett Baseball, Beckett Basketball, Beckett Football, Beckett Hockey, Beckett Racing, Beckett Fantasy Sports Powered by Rotoworld.com, Neopets (The Official Magazine), Beckett Pokemon, Beckett Dragonball Z, Beckett Anime & Manga, Beckett Yu-Gi-Oh Unofficial Collector and a number of other titles. Jim has also authored more than 50 sports-related books, including numerous annual price guides in several collectible fields.
 
As a child, Jim lived in 18 houses in 18 years. His father was in the military and then a corporate CEO and it kept the family moving. He said of those years, “Moving a lot with new schools means you've got to be a quick study.” Jim also discovered that his hobby of collecting baseball cards was a great “socializer.”
 
After earning his Ph.D. in statistics from Southern Methodist University in 1975, he was a tenured associate professor of statistics at Bowling Green State University until 1980. Surrounded by so many baseball entities in the region, he said it was an immersive experience. Combining his great love of sports and math, he decided to publish a free price survey to the collector market in 1975. In 1979, he published a full-length book.
 
Living in Dallas in 1984, Jim then published Baseball Monthly magazine. It was such a success he left his other jobs to fully devote his time to Beckett Publications, Inc. Carl noted that he also launched his first magazine in 1984, Computer Language. Their paths and exit strategies were entirely different—Carl sold his magazine three years later, while Jim grew his company over 20 years into an empire. “I’m not really a serial entrepreneur”, he said. “I’m an opportunistic entrepreneur, I had many great ideas, but that one idea seemed to have legs on it and it sure seemed that I should be the guy to carry it forward.”
 
The company eventually expanded way beyond baseball cards, selling 2 million magazines a month. “I think I have the record for the greatest direct mail return, I had a 1,000%! I would send out 1,000 pieces of mail and get 10,000 orders,” Jim told us. Then while actively leading the company, Jim suffered a heart attack. It forced him into concentrating on his schedule and his health. He went into a more executive role with the company, which he didn't enjoy. “I’m a hands-on guy!” Soon he started thinking of selling.
 
In addition to running a successful company, Jim had started a pro-bono consulting business to help leaders and future leaders solve problems. He started having 200 meetings a year with different entities, often bringing in peers to help too. Jim’s love of problem solving has led to more than 5,000 meetings over the years. “It has been so fulfilling,” he added.
 
Now in (un)retirement, Jim is going strong with a daily (yes, daily!) podcast for the sports collector world. Turns out that in the pandemic, card collecting has had a dramatic resurgence. 2020 was the biggest year ever. “I get to have an impact on my industry and influence the influencers. I'm having a blast!”
 
Dr. James Beckett’s (un)retirement advice:
 
“I think people need to find some connection to a passion. It’s not I have to do this, it’s I get to do this. How great is that?”
 
“I was always a person to bring order out of the chaos……as I've grown older, I've realized you don't want to eliminate all the chaos. A little bit of chaos is the joie de vivre.”
 
“Leave the world a better place. Make a positive impact!”
 
Check out the Dr. James Beckett: Sports Card Insights podcast.
 
This week we're sponsored by 032 Outsourcing: Call 214.403.3755 or visit: https://032outsourcing.com/

 

Diana Landau is the Content Wrangler for Pickleball Media. After 15 years in corporate marketing, in 2012 she pivoted to write and wrangle content for Niche Media's weekly blog. She now manages the “I Used to Be Somebody” weekly blog.
 
Tags:    blog   interview   Dr James Beckett   baseball   baseball cards   sports   collector   podcast  

Mike Krukow Interview: Winning Strategies for Life!

Diana Landau | November 09, 2020
Jon_Miller_and_Mike_Krukow_at_2012_Giants_victory_parade.jpg: Bruce Washburnderivative work: Arbor to SJ, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia CommonsThe one-and-only Mike Krukow was a guest on the podcast this week. Carl is a HUGE San Francisco Giants fan and interviewing one of his personal heroes was a major thrill! Mike was not only a star pitcher for the Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies and then the SF Giants, but after his playing days were over, he eventually found his way to broadcasting, becoming one half of one of the most famous sports broadcasting duos in the country.

 

Growing up in San Gabriel, California, Mike always wanted to be a baseball player. As a kid he was surrounded by baseball, becoming a batboy and playing in baseball games every single day, up and down his neighborhood street. “Kids talked about becoming blue collar or white collar workers when they grew up—I knew I wanted to be a  ”no-collar” worker!” he laughed.

 

Carl asked Mike where he gets his positive energy. (You can even hear it through his broadcasts, one of the many reasons he’s so loved in SF.) Mike said his mother was a nurse who never had a bad day. “She had the ability to pump people up, to be open and always engaged in the conversation. Our house was always the house where all the kids in the neighborhood hung out. It’s about being either half-full or half-empty—it’s your choice how you want to look at things.”

 

Mike last played baseball in 1989. That year the SF Giants competed in the World Series with a motley crew of players that weren’t even predicted to make the playoffs. Carl noted that podcast guest Joan Ryan has a new book “Intangibles, Unlocking the Science and Soul of Team Chemistry” that was partly inspired by that team in 1989. “We loved each other. We all bought into the concept of giving all that we had for each other every day,” Mike agreed.

 

Mike had 3 surgeries on his shoulder and his pitching arm was shredded. So after that winning season, Manager Roger Craig offered Mike a position as a pitching coach. Traveling with the team, coaches often worked 12-hour days. Mike turned it down. He had 4 kids and his wife was pregnant with the fifth. At each point in his life when he pivoted to something new, Mike made family the priority. Instead of more baseball, he and a college friend opened a restaurant. “Perfect timing—the recession!” Mike joked.

 

He decided he had to learn about everything, from being a busboy, waiting tables, hosting, prep-cook, finance and more. Mike said it was an invigorating time—failure was on the doorstep every day. “I have an incredible amount of respect for the business owners who are willing to risk everything to run their business and create jobs for other people.”

 

Mike became a full time broadcaster in 1994. He’s known for his deep knowledge of the game and his tremendous humor, and is a 7-time Emmy Award winner. In 2014, Mike was diagnosed with IBM (inclusion body myositis) and although he does not travel with the team anymore, you can count on Mike and his partner Duane Kuiper broadcasting from the Oracle Park studios during the baseball season.

 

Mike’s advice will resonate with I Used to be Somebody listeners:

 

“Don’t EVER retire! What’s so wonderful about life is that there are so many new surprises; you just have to look for them. Go out and do something that is creative and fun. Go someplace where you can do it with other people. Don’t just be content with sitting on the couch. That’s where it all ends. If there’s anything I’ve learned in this life, it’s that there are so many new, wonderful things to explore.”

 

It’s pretty evident that nothing is going to slow down Mike Krukow. He is living his moment!
 

 

For more info about Mike Krukow and how to donate to the Northern Nevada Children's Cancer Foundation, visit this website.
For the full interview, listen to I Used to be Somebody, Episode #9 with Mike Krukow.
 

 

Diana Landau is the Content Wrangler for Pickleball Media. After 15 years in corporate marketing, in 2012 she pivoted to write and wrangle content for Niche Media's weekly blog. She now manages the I Used to Be Somebody weekly blog.
Tags:    blog   podcast   interview   giants   mike krukow   baseball   unretirement  

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