Kelly Shoppach, the Rays' new catcher, has already settled his family into a St. Pete Beach home and learned about the pitchers he'll work with. To learn more about Shoppach, St. Petersburg Times staff writer Joe Smith sat down with the Fort Worth, Texas, native, who showed his sense of humor in discussing his love for reality TV (including American Idol), his meeting with George W. Bush and his future career as high school football coach.
What do you like about American Idol?
Simon (Cowell). That's it. I've heard a million singers. All of them have a rags-to-riches story. But true comedy — Simon Cowell.
You have a similar sense of humor?
Yes. People ask me who would you like to hang out with for a day. I'd like to hang out with him. I can't imagine laughing harder. It's no-holds-barred. It's awesome. Just tells people exactly what he's thinking.
That's how you are with pitchers on the mound, right?
Exactly how it is. Try not to sugarcoat it.
So what are your favorite bands?
Right now it's Lady Antebellum. I'm really a big Rascal Flatts fan, but I'm really digging Lady Antebellum right now. I like Pat Green, of course, being a Texas guy.
What do you miss when you're not in Texas?
I miss the food when I leave. I always tend to gain weight when I go home. Everything is so good, everything is so mom-and-pop joints. It's not good for you, but it tastes really good. I miss the nice people, too. You don't find that everywhere.
What was it like playing high school football there?
Greatest time of my life. I shouldn't say that. But I feel very strongly about it. I often wonder if I'd give it up for one more game. Maybe give the future up for one more game. I don't know if I'd give up all the work I've done to this point. Thanks for bringing that up. Now I'm gonna go home and pout all day.
Hey, as you said, it's your future. You want to be a high school football coach in Texas when you're done, right?
I'd like to coach for my brother (Kyle, who is at McGregor High in Waco). I want him to be head coach, I'll be the assistant. That'll be a good life.
Is it just like the movie, Friday Night Lights?
It's real, it's not a joke. They shut towns down. Kids get out of school early so they can go to the game if they're on the road.
So, tell me about the work you do for Providence House (a shelter for abused women and children in the Cleveland area). What got you into it?
I hate that kids don't get a chance. And it just really bothers me that people that can't defend themselves get taken advantage of. I don't have any personal experience with that, but with where my values are, I can't fathom that other people would do that to someone. And since I can't stop that from happening, I can help when it does happen. It's just something that really strikes home for me.
What are your hobbies off the field?
My babies. I really love my kids (three daughters: Alexandra, 10, Addison Brooke, 3, Aubrey Elise, 1). I do a lot of fishing, I watch a lot of football.
Speaking of your girls, is there any TV show you've got into watching with them?
Yo Gabba Gabba. We watch Yo Gabba Gabba probably six hours a day; you get like 30 minutes of quiet when it's on.
If you could meet anybody — other than Simon — who would it be?
I had the opportunity to meet George W. (Bush) last year. He threw out the first pitch at the Rangers game; we just happened to be opening there. He came into the clubhouse and actually remembered me from Baylor. That made my month, my year maybe. I had a kid the same year, but this was way cooler, getting to talk with the former president. He was just a normal guy. It was awesome.
Your favorite Web site?
CBS.com. TV is my life. I watch a lot of TV, so if I can't catch them at night, I'll watch online. Survivor is the one, I like Biggest Loser. I like reality TV, but not the corny ones like Big Brother (and) Road Rules. … I watch every show basically. Two channels every night. Kids are sleeping, I'm vegging out on the couch and need something to watch. I swear, half the knowledge I have now is from TV.
If you had to pick anyone to play you in a movie, who would it be?
Brad Pitt. He looks just like me — when he's shaved.
Joe Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org