Toronto Blue Jays Alek Manoah on Expression, Influence, and Success
Toronto Blue Jays baseball pitcher Alek Manoah has been steadily rising through the ranks of professional baseball. The sophomore pitcher is one of Major League Baesball’s most promising young talents and currently vying for the Cy Young award while leading his team towards the postseason. Amidst this whirlwind season, Alek Manoah sat down with the Bay Street Bull to discuss how his upbringing has fuelled his professional success, the importance of personal expression, and the potential of this young Blue Jays roster.
Your mother has had a big impact on your career. Can you describe her influence on and off the field?
Alek Manoah: Everything she’s done for me and my brother, she’s my inspiration every day to work hard. She taught me how to keep going when things get tough. […] Something I’ve learned from her is [that] every situation has negatives and positives, but if you get stuck in the negatives, you’ll get lost. We grew up in negative circumstances, it’s easy to spiral in the wrong direction. We try to not take [anything] for granted. We’re blessed to be alive every day [and] have the opportunity to get better.
Let’s go back to that first memory of her teaching you to get over your early fears in baseball. How was that emblematic of her approach as a parent?
Alek Manoah: When I was 10 years old I got hit in the face with a pitch while hitting, and it kind of swelled up my whole face and gave me a big fear of baseball. When I would catch, I’d start moving away from the ball and blocking the ball incorrectly. One day she pulled me to the backyard in full gear and had a bucket of baseballs. She said, ‘Sit there,’ and just started throwing them at me. […] When we were done, she said, “See, you’re fine. You live through it. A couple of little bumps, little bruises, you’re going to be fine.’ It taught me to not be scared of the ball […] Whatever it takes, she’ll make it happen.
Do you remember the moment you fell in love with the sport?
Alek Manoah: It was probably when we went to Cooperstown growing up. It was a big tournament. I won the home run derby at 10 years old, playing in front of thousands of people. For me, that was a pretty cool moment. […] I realized I wanted to play in this kind of environment for the rest of my life.
Your approach to pregame and postgame style is a core part of your everyday life. Where did that come from and how important is feeling good in your own skin?
Alek Manoah: I think it’s really important. It’s kind of cliché, but when you feel good, you play good. Being able to have a nice outfit or being able to have a fresh haircut always feels good. It creates a good vibe and makes me want to go out there and perform better.
How would you define a successful season for the team? What’s a realistic ceiling that the team is pushing towards?
Alek Manoah: We’re just trying to win as many games as possible. There’s a lot of noise on the outside of expectations, but we’re just trying to stay together the whole year and stay healthy. We know if we show up every day a hundred percent and play as hard as we can, a lot of good things are gonna happen.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. Read the full digital cover story with Alek Manoah at glory.media.
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