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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Interview with C.J. Wilson - Straight Edge/PMA Pitcher for the Texas Rangers and American League All-Star


(Update 10/10/2011: I am really excited to say that Mr. Wilson has committed to donating to the next Hardcore for Education fundraiser!  Good luck in the playoffs, Mr. Wilson!)


I have wanted to get an interview with C.J. Wilson for a few months now. Mr. Wilson is a pitcher for the Texas Rangers (and also an American League All-Star!). You can check out his website at http://www.leftylefty.com/. He is also on twitter as @str8edgeracer. I hope you enjoy the interview!

PMAKid: What are your three favorite songs and why are they your favorites?

C.J. Wilson: My favorite songs are all over the place- so many years of listening to music it's hard to boil down into that kind of detail, but I'll always like Voodoo Chile (slight return) by Jimi Hendrix, Don't Lose Sight by Throwdown, and Da Funk by Daft Punk.

PMAKid: What are your three favorite books and why are they your favorites?

C.J. Wilson: One of the first books I really got into was Dracula by Bram Stoker when I was about 10 years old...super creepy and just great imagery overall. I've loved reading my whole life. I also read one called Mind Gym, its a sport psychology book. Lastly, I'd have to say The Alchemist. Just a really emotionally motivating book.


PMAKid: What is it like to be in the major leauges? Did you always want to play professional baseball?

C.J. Wilson: Ever since I was about 8 years old I saw myself playing here, in the big leagues. It's the best- the most challenging and most rewarding job I could imagine.

PMAKid: How did you get exposed to Straight Edge and keeping PMA in the first place? Did you go to a lot of hardcore shows when you were younger? If so, what were your favorite bands?

C.J. Wilson: Straightedge was something that I heard about when I was a kid growing up in SoCal. Lots of people were really into the hardcore scene and the straightedge thing was a rebellion against the status quo of taking orders or direction from hypocritical authority figures. It was a way to be yourself but still feel unity towards a cause.

PMA is a newer thing that I've heard about through Toby Morse. His positive influence is all over the straightedge community and I'm proud to be associated with him.

PMAKid: Can you tell me about your Children's Charities?

C.J. Wilson: I started my charity in 2007 after doing some work in 2006 on behalf of the rangers. I wanted to have my own voice in the community and saw that if I made events fun, young people would come out and learn to give back. it's always been more about the involvement than the money raised- and I feel like over the years with the thousands of people who've attended my events we really have made an impact on the community as well as for all the kids in the hospitals we've given to and donated.


PMAKid: I have seen that you have a race team. Can you tell me more about that? Do you do the actual racing or do you have drivers? or both?

C.J. Wilson: I do race when time permits, but obviously in the season we almost never have any free time. Basically it's a way to legitimize myself in that arena in order to bridge the sponsorship gap for my partners as well as take my charity platform nationwide. it's a lot of fun for everyone involved but just like baseball it's more work than most people think it would be. We race Mazda cars because that's what I started with and Mazda has been awesome to work with over the last 3 years.

PMAKid: You are also really into photography. What is your favorite type of things to photograph? Is it just for fun? For the people that are really into photography, what type of camera and stuff do you have?

C.J. Wilson: I really do take the photography seriously- it's a true artistic expression of my mind and my heart. I love capturing things on my camera and making them a clear version of what I imagine, really it's about bringing my imagination to life. I shoot with Canon cameras- and have used the 7D, 5D, 1D, g12, and s95. I love them all! I even do short films with my friends using the same ones I shoot landscapes with. So far, my favorite thing to shoot has been while on safari in Africa.

PMAKid: Some of past interviewees have talked about how they use music to inspire them. How important is music to you and how do you use it besides just enjoyment?

C.J. Wilson: Music is an odd thing- we all have different tastes and I for sure use it to my advantage to regulate my emotional state before I pitch, while I work out, when I drive, or any time I need to be at my best. I love the energy that comes from being in sync with the right music. Music can unify people from all over the world, it's a beautiful thing and truly one of the highest forms of evolved consciousness.

PMAKid: A lot of people know that you are Straight Edge and I saw that you have the X symbol on your gloves. Do you think that because of this a lot of people have been exposed to Straight Edge? How important is being Straight Edge to you?

C.J. Wilson: Being edge is something that people will always associate with me for the rest of my career, it's in my twitter name, on my glove, and always in my biographical info. I think it's awesome when people come up to me and say: " I didn't even know what straightedge was until you, and it inspired me".

That's awesome and always makes me proud.

PMAKid: When times are really hard and it is hard to be positive, how do you try to keep a Positive Mental Attitude?

C.J. Wilson: I just remember how far I've come to get here- how many injuries and failures have been on this quest, this journey. You never lose out if you keep playing and keep working towards your goals.

One of the best ways to keep PMA is to surround yourself with friends who are on the same path. I've got at least 20 super true friends who are PMA all the way back home and it keeps me grounded.

PMAKid: I know that most professional athletes are really good people who always try to do their best, but I have heard stories about some athletes who have problems with drugs or alcohol. How do you deal with other professional athletes who may have drug or alcohol problems? I am sure you are really nice to them and everything, but how are you supportive to them?

C.J. Wilson: Well it's hard- everyone as an adult is going to make their own choices. I was just lucky to not have to make those mistakes because I knew from a young age it wouldn't get me far into my goals. I just remind them whenever I can of what kind of awesome things there are to do besides that stuff. A lot of guys feel alone, they feel isolated and I just try to be supportive like a brother whenever I can. Some guys just want to do it their way and will never follow a good example so you can't expect everyone to make good decisions all the time.

PMAKid: If you could have any job (besides playing baseball), what would it be and why?

C.J. Wilson: Racing stuff, engineering, inventing, I'm good at all of that for sure and would maximize my brain into those arenas any way I could.

PMAKid: My dad says he heard you grew up in the Orange County hardcore scene. Is that true? What bands did you see there?

C.J. Wilson: Well I don't really know how many shows I went to or whatever- I was too busy with baseball and work and school and never really had free time. I went to a few shows here and there but just became acquainted with the dudes in the bands themselves over the years. Mostly I just listened to some of the stuff my brother would buy or bring home and got into bands like Throwdown that way.

PMAKid: You are obviously a pretty famous guy because you are such a good pitcher. I have talked to some other famous people (but not as famous as you), and it makes me wonder how hard it is to be famous. Can you go to movies or the store or stuff and just be a normal person? I think it would be really hard to be famous and just live a normal life.

C.J. Wilson: Fame is a sliding scale, it really depends on where you are. When I walk around in NYC or LA, nobody recognizes me. I'm only noticed in Dallas and even then it's not very often unless I'm a regular somewhere or have to make a reservation ahead of time. I just lay low in general and don't really care. Getting free stuff from sponsors or suppliers (like my gloves, or car parts, or video games) is really the only benefit of the job in that regard. I don't care who knows me or whatever else, the paychecks allow me to have a nice car and travel well in the offseason and that is a much bigger reward.

When I go out remember- I'm just a normal sized dude. Someone like Dirk Nowitzki would get spotted everywhere because he's 7 feet tall. It's awesome to just put a hat on and slide in and out of places and not be noticed. Growing up in LA, I was used to people talking about huge celebs like Tom Cruise or Will Smith, guys like that are super famous across the world. I'm just a lefty pitcher with a colored glove and a good sinker.

PMAKid: How cool is it to pitch for Nolan Ryan?!?

C.J. Wilson: Nolan is a legend and an awesome guy to meet and get to know. He really cares about the team and is 100% committed to making the Rangers a powerhouse organization for the future.

2 comments:

  1. Great interview by a bright young individual! Good job kid! I also like that you interviewed a positive role model like C.J. Wilson, couldnt have picked a better guy and a REAL ball player. Love C.J. Wilson, great pick! good luck in the near future kid...remember to stay true to yourself and others. You've got a bright future. -B.Whiteley

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  2. how wonderful and weird! I just read the Ian Mackaye article where he mentioned C.J. and it blew my mind, simply because it's such a small world. C.J. and I went to high school together. What a great moment. Thank you!

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(Noting that this site is primarily run by a kid, his parents ask you to keep profanity and offensive commentary out of your posts.)