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The Big Interview: Jennie Finch on getting fired on The Apprentice, her sons Ace and Diesel, and striking out Pujols

Jun 25, 2012, 1:09 PM EDT


Off The Bench was lucky enough to sit down and exchange some thoughts with Olympic softball gold medalist Jennie Finch, just to see what was up.

OTB: How’s family life treating you? You’re only 31, do you ever have the itch to get back in the game?

My heart is so full right now and my hands as well with my two little guys! I’ve been so blessed by the game and I’m now enjoying this next chapter. Don’t get me wrong I do miss it but I’m in a good place!

How can softball reach a broader audience, in your opinion? Can women athletics ever be as popular as the men’s side of things?

I think we are getting there! We need to realize how far we’ve come and know we have a ways to go as well! I have to say its been incredible to see the opportunity now for young girls across all sports! We have to keep pushing ahead and the IOC dropping softball from the Olympics is a good reminder that it can be taken away.

Your sons names are Ace and Diesel. Did you get to pick these names? How’d you two come up with them? Are they family names?

My husband after two weeks of dating, asked me, if our relationship were to work out, would I be OK with our first boy being named Ace. He always wanted his first little guy to have the best of everything — his name included! With Diesel, we thought that after a name like Ace we couldn’t name our next little one something ordinary. We liked Diesel as a name when I was pregnant with Ace, so we put it back on the table this time around, too. Diesel just stuck. It fits him perfectly!

You famously struck out Albert Pujols, Mike Piazza and Brian Giles in a 2004 all-star celebrity softball game. How great did that feel? Were you surprised?

I was pumped! I have to say Pujols was probably the most intimidating hitter I faced, his quads standing in the box were massive! It was a lot of fun! Surprised? No way, that’s my job, to strike people out!

Since you have had a little experience around Albert, how can he fix his swing?

Oh, I won’t go there! He’s one of the best in the game. Hitting is one of the most humbling and hardest tasks in all of sports!

I’ve heard that throwing underhand doesn’t cause much stress in the arm so you can pitch on multiple days and go for tons of innings. Can you explain how that’s possible? I feel like spinning your arm like a windmill and throwing darts will eventually wear you out.

It does wear you out, but you ice up and do it all over again. Throwing a ball is not natural whether its overhand or underhand. Mechanics are key, making sure you are throwing safely. We are seeing more and more injuries from unsafe mechanics and overuse. Especially with our youth, education is the key.

You’ve been fired by Donald Trump on The Apprentice. Was that disappointing or kind of fun?

It was an amazing yet crazy experience! It was an incredible opportunity, and an honor to hear him say “you’re fired.” I got to meet great people and experience New York in a special way. However the boardroom is nasty, I never enjoyed being in there!

Do you ever feel the itch to return to the game or are you satisfied with the softball legacy you left?

I have so much love for the game and I feel so blessed to have played for as long as I did. I enjoy still being involved with the game and giving back now, through awareness, camps, education, clinics, my Jennie Finch Softball Academy at DiamondNation in NJ, and so much more.

How do you feel about baseball and softball’s cut from the Olympic lineup? Do you ever see it returning?

It’s heartbreaking and devastating. It was the most amazing honor to be able to play for my country on the Olympic stage, and I always wanted to leave the game better than I found it. I hope we will see it come back. It’s going to be an uphill battle. I will do everything I can to help get it back and support the game worldwide!

When I watch softball I always notice the enthusiasm in encouragement, where unlike baseball if a teammate does something positive the girls are quick to run up to congratulate in an enthusiastic manner. Why do you think there’s more enthusiasm in softball? Because boys want to be cool?

I’m not sure… We play seven innings, it’s fast, and action packed. It’s high energy the whole time. I know for me I never once took putting on my jersey for granted. It was an honor to play and I was going to make the most of it! I love hearing from fans how they watched just one game and became hooked! It’s fun to watch the girls wear their heart on their sleeves battling every pitch!

Why don’t you guys wear hats?

I’m not sure? I know in International softball they wanted women in shorts and the men to wear pants. There are some athletes that wear hats. It might be easier to wear a visor with longer hair.

  1. rooney24 - Jun 25, 2012 at 4:32 PM

    Seriously, Ace and Diesel? Really? Those are maybe names for pets, not for kids.

  2. racksie - Jun 25, 2012 at 11:06 PM

    Great interview! What a great story! She is so enthusiastic! About everything! You can tell because every question is answered with an exclamation point!!!