Sunday October 28th, 2012
Jonathan Hacohen: This past spring, I had the chance to converse on the telephone with one of the greatest players of my generation. Middle-of-the-order power bat, combined with gold glove defense. Matt Williams is everything a manager could want in a baseball player. He showed up every day and played the game hard. Ran out every ground ball. Dove for every ball at third base. Consistently got his jersey dirty. Never complained to the media or spoke poorly about management or a teammate. Matt Williams was the ultimate professional, on and off the field. And now here he was, on the other end of the line conversing with me. It will be a baseball talk that I will never forget. Matt Williams has that strong of a presence.
I actually grew up a Giants fan, with the highlight of my baseball life being the 1989 Giants playoff run. But once Matt Williams and Will Clark left the Bay area, I was so devastated that I decided to never forgive the Giants. But I continued to follow the players that I idolized, through the rest of their playing days and into the next phases of their respective careers. Once Comerica Park opened, I grew to adopt the Tigers as my main team. The proximity to Detroit from my hometown made the Tigers a natural fit for me. But I was always a baseball fan first and foremost. If I respected a player, I followed them regardless of the team(s) they played for. Studying the history of the Tigers, I started to think about some of their former players. Kirk Gibson and Alan Trammell came to mind. Both were hard-nosed players who went on to manage in the big leagues. Gibson was a coach under Trammell in Detroit. Now Trammell is the bench coach in Arizona under Kirk Gibson. The team enjoyed an incredible run in 2011 and are still seen as a team on the rise. Ironically enough, Gibson’s third base coach? Matt Williams, of course. Read the rest of this entry
Sunday March 25th, 2012
MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen: We are excited to present our featured guest today on MLB reports, the one and only: Erika Monroe Williams. Erika has been involved in entertainment, news and baseball in many capacities over her brilliant career. From a news anchor in Texas and Phoenix, to working in public relations and then a pre-game host on Diamondbacks’ broadcasts. She even recently completed a stint on the VH1 reality show, Baseball Wives! Erika also forms half of what I call the “Baseball Power Couple”. You may know her husband- All-Star Third Baseman, multiple Gold Glove and Silver Slugger recipient and World Series champion, Matt Williams. The Williams couple actually hosted for a period the Diamondbacks pre-game show together (awwww…), before Matt went back onto the field to become a Diamondbacks coach. Matt is currently serving as the Third Base Coach on Kirk Gibson’s staff, as well as being a minority owner of the Diamondbacks. To say that Erika and Matt have strong Diamondbacks ties would be an understatement.
Matt and Erika currently reside in Arizona, raising their children. With hectic work schedules, they are truly living the modern-day baseball life! I had the chance to speak with both Erika and Matt recently. Today’s feature is my conversation with Erika Monroe Williams, with the Matt Williams interview coming up in part two of this two-part feature. In part one, Erika opens up about all the facets of her fascinating life. From meeting Matt and getting married, to working as a news anchor and in public relations, to what it is like to working and preparing as a host of the Diamondbacks pre-game programs. Did I mention that she also appeared on the VH1 show Baseball Wives? 😉 For those of you that followed the program, Erika actually quit the show. Today, we find out why. Erika though hasn’t given up on television…far from it. As Matt expressed to me during our interview: Erika is full of life and has a charismatic personality that is perfectly suited for entertainment. She is smart, funny, hard-working and extremely motivated. As she prepares for her next projects (Erika currently has a cooking show in the works), there is no doubt that the sky is the limit for Erika Monroe Williams! She is just getting started.
You know the name. Now get to know the lady. Today on MLB reports, our exclusive interview with Erika Monroe Williams:
Thursday January 26, 2012
MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen: Today on MLB reports, we break new ground. First we started in Hollywood. I have enjoyed many opportunities to speak to actor Casey Bond, who portrays Chad Bradford in the hit movie Moneyball. Now we move from the baseball big screen to your television set, as I share my conversation with Maggie McCracken. The VH1 show “Baseball Wives” is a huge hit and I am excited to be speaking to one of its cast mates (our first, wink). Maggie is married to former major league outfielder, Quinton McCracken. Quinton played 12 major league seasons for 6 different clubs. He was known for hitting for a solid average, his ability to get on base and of course, dynamite defense. Quinton is still very active in the game of baseball, as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks front office. According to Maggie, he also reads MLB reports on a daily basis. You know that means we love ya Q!
Today, I reveal my interview with Q’s better half. Maggie is an absolute bundle of energy. It has been uplifting to get to know Maggie and learn her baseball story. What we all see on television is one thing. But sometimes there is more to the story than meets the eye. While the Maggie McCracken we see on television is her…there are other sides of the Baseball Wives star that we wanted to reveal to our readers. Maggie’s family, including her precious little boy Isaiah. Maggie is a passionate mom. She founded the charity “Miracles Do Happen” and is very social conscience in making a difference. Did I mention that she is an avid boxer as well? From marrying Quinton to joining the baseball reality television world and everything in between, this is the Maggie McCracken story. Where she came from and where she is going. Today we learn all!
Get ready for a great baseball story as we proudly present our interview with the one and only, Maggie McCracken:
MLB reports: Maggie- it is a pleasure to be speaking with you and thank you for joining us today on MLB reports. Let me start off with our favorite topic: Baseball. What does the sport mean to you?
Maggie McCracken: Thank you for having me, I am honored. Quinton and I have been together for 11 years and Baseball has been a part of our life for our entire relationship. That being said, my feelings for the sport have changed over time. In the beginning it was fairly new to me. It was exciting to watch the games from a different view. Over time, your world starts to revolve around every game and then the game is over. Q has changed gears and is now in the front office. So now I see the other side of the sport which is tough. It’s hard to see the stress and agony in Q’s face when he has to make those hard decisions, when a guy doesn’t make the team it affects his entire world. That’s hard. So it has been a roller coaster. But Baseball has been good to Q and our Family and there’s a bond in Baseball that can never be broken.
MLB reports: Prior to entering the world of reality television, tell us about the life of Maggie McCracken. Mother, wife- what was life like before Baseball Wives?
Maggie McCracken: My life was already very busy. We have a two-year old son, Isaiah, who was born at just 23.6 weeks. Isaiah is the youngest baby born in Scottsdale to survive. Viability is 24 weeks, so my life before the show consisted of being Isaiah’s Mommy and trying to find ways to pay it forward. I became an Advocate and an Ambassador for The March of Dimes. In those roles, I help bring awareness and education to the community and mentor families going through the same thing our family went through. During my work with the March of Dimes, I founded our Charity, Miracles Do Happen. Our largest event, which is held every year in April, is a silent auction and raffle; all proceeds benefit the March of Dimes. As you can see, before the show, I was still very busy conquering the world with Isaiah and taking care of our family!
MLB reports: How did you meet Quinton? What was the wedding like and how would you describe Quinton McCracken the husband?
Maggie McCracken: A mutual friend introduced us and at first Q told me he was a shoes sales man (LOL), so I thought well if it doesn’t work out, I could always get a discount on shoes. What woman wouldn’t want that? He eventually told me the truth and I believe I said “so no free shoes?” Q is exactly who you see on TV and on the field! He is loving, passionate, caring and a lot of fun. He is also very quiet and methodical, he thinks everything out. He loves deeply and there isn’t anything he wouldn’t do for his family. Our wedding was at Duke University (Which is where Q went to school). It was beautiful; it was fun and full of love. Looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing!
MLB reports: You just mentioned that Quinton is now working with the Diamondbacks front office. How has life changed for the both of you since his career switch?
Maggie McCracken: Yes! Q is back with the Dbacks in the front office and he loves it! It is something I knew he would enjoy and be great at. He knows so much about his craft and he is also very compassionate. It can be hard at times; we went from having him home every day for almost two years to him now being so busy that we don’t see him very much. But he is happy and we are a team- so you just make it work.
MLB reports: Did you ever have any doubts or reservations about becoming a Baseball Wife? What were your expectations when you became a Baseball Wife?
Maggie McCracken: I had reservations about marrying an athlete period. I heard all the same stories everyone else has heard: the groupies, the traveling, the ego’s…etc. But I married Q the man- not the baseball player and it was the best thing I could have ever done.
MLB reports: What did you study growing up? What was your career vision as youngster?
Maggie McCracken: I studied Early Childhood Education. I love kids of all ages, there’s an honesty about them that you rarely see from adults anymore. They are our future and I love being a part of teaching them about the world and watching them soar. When I was younger I wanted be a doctor, but holy cow- that’s a lot of school! If I am being honest, I went to school to be with my friends so eight years of school seemed like way too much (giggle).
MLB reports: How did you first find out about Baseball Wives: Did VH1 approach you or did you approach them?
Maggie McCracken: Tanya Grace (who is on the show) asked if I was interested. I said why not, I will shoot one scene and see what it is all about. I did a shoot for a lunch scene with Tanya, Erika Williams and Brooke Villone. After that shoot, the producers asked me to shoot again so I did. When they asked for a third time, I said “we need to talk about a contract”, as I have learned from Q’s career. I felt it was a reasonable request seeing that I was putting my life out there and all. At first I was told to just “hang in there” and sooner or later they would offer me a contract. I stood my ground and said I wouldn’t continue without one. All of a sudden “poof”: on my fax machine was a contract! I had a trip planned to go to Miami with one of my best friends. I decided I would take that time to really think about what this all would mean.
MLB reports: Was it a difficult decision to decide to do the show? What were your husband’s thoughts on the subject?
Maggie McCracken: The decision to do the show was extremely difficult; if I only had myself to think about ,I am positive it would have been an easier one. But I have my family to think about and any decision I make from here on out affects them as well. I remember thinking if I decide to do the show, the world gets to see our ups and downs, our highs and lows. Above all, by making the decision to be on TV I am now a role model, like it or not. The only decision I had left was what type of role model I wanted to be. That decision was simple! I promised my family, friends and myself that I would continue to stand up for what I believed to be right, to only be involved in “fights” that involved conversation and not the stereotypical fights you see on Reality TV (such as hair pulling and putting your hands on another woman). I wanted other women and young girls who watch these shows to see that courage is being able to speak up for others even when you may be the only person doing so, to be secure and confident in what you have to say – to see that what you have to say matters and it should be heard. I wanted women to see that there actually are women on Reality TV who don’t feel it necessary to call another woman out just to get a point across and who are secure in themselves to help build other women up and help them succeed. As long as I stayed true to myself and what I believed, Quinton was by my side the entire way.
MLB reports: How well did you know any of your cast mates before the show?
Maggie McCracken: I was very good friends with Tanya Grace and Erika Williams before the show. I really wish they would have shown more of those friendships. Tanya and Erika are very involved in my charity work. Erika emceed last year’s Miracles Do Happen event. We shot some great scenes that focused on our friendships and life’s hardships, but unfortunately the viewers didn’t get to see that. I knew Brooke from when we were with the Mariners, but I got to know more of her during the show. The rest of the women I met during filming.
MLB reports: Who are your friends/enemies from the show? Do you really like/dislike each other?
Maggie McCracken: I have to say this question/s is the number one question asked (LOL)! I hold the word “friend” close to my heart. I work hard to be the GREATEST FRIEND I can be to those extraordinary people in my life that I do call a “friend”. I don’t have enemies. If I think of you as an enemy, that would mean I would actually let you affect my life and life is just too short. That being said, I took something away from each of these Ladies that I can honestly say made me a better person. Erika has this unspoken grace and sophistication about her, Tanya has an unconditional love for others, Anna has a way to get you to laugh at life when you have the worst of days, Brooke helped me realize that I could sometimes listen more and talk less (chuckle), Jordana takes the time to stop and appreciate life and what it has to offer, Cheri has a huge giving heart and Chantel has an unbreakable courage about her. Yes, we actually do talk, text and hang when the cameras are off!
MLB reports: Knowing what you know now- would you still have decided to appear on Baseball Wives?
Maggie McCracken: Without question I would do the show all over again, because I stayed true to who I am.
MLB reports: How do you feel that you are portrayed on the show? Are you the same Maggie off-screen?
Maggie McCracken: I was portrayed on the show exactly how I am in real life! I was portrayed that way because I NEVER said anything just for the show and I NEVER did anything just for the show. Some may say I should have been more dramatic or done this or said that and I would have gotten more air time. I have never blamed others for what may have gone right or wrong in my life, or for not going the way I wanted it to go. I take responsibility for who I am, what I say and how I treat others. Who you watched on TV is who you will meet in real life!
MLB reports: How have you found reactions generally to the show? From the public and media perspectives.
Maggie McCracken: The reactions vary from episode to episode. If the episode is Brooke and I not getting a long for five minutes then the next thing you know I am getting tons of tweets from Brooke’s fans attacking me for something I said… and vice versa I am sure. Overall, it seems like the public enjoys a fresh new show that doesn’t show women physically attacking each other, although there is some verbal attacking going on, I guess that is unfortunately the nature of reality TV. I do have to say I enjoy the feedback from fans, the good, the bad and the ugly (grin).
MLB reports: How has your life changed since the premiere of Baseball Wives?
Maggie McCracken: I feel like the timing of the show couldn’t have been better. At this time in my life I am surrounded by such wonderful, supportive people who I am so honored to call my family and friends. What makes this crazy ride so much fun is being able to share it with all of them! It has opened doors for our charity (Miracles do Happen) and given us a bigger platform to speak from. I am so grateful for that!
MLB reports: What do you do for fun in your spare time?
Maggie McCracken: I enjoy spending my spare time with Isaiah, we play, we laugh, we dance, and this little boy has moves, let me tell you! I love being at home, I love cooking for my family and trying out new dishes on my lovies (my best girlfriends). Lately the McCracken Casa has been the hangout for us girls, we cook and drink wine. We have girl talk and solve the world problems, or just each other’s (big smile). I enjoy being a part of different causes like the Multiple Sclerosis Society. One of my best friends has MS and we walk every year and help her raise money for the cause. I am also involved in MASK (Mothers Awareness of School Aged Kids). Isaiah is in school now so when he is there and it’s just me, I go and see my trainer Rico Hoye at his gym in Scottsdale and hit the bags (BOXING)! Boxing is my passion, I love learning the craft, I love watching it on TV and it’s where I can let it all out!
MLB reports: What is the future for Maggie McCracken- where do you see your life heading? Will we see another reality show, movies, television, book….?
Maggie McCracken: I am open to the possibilities. We have one shot at this thing we call life and I am blessed to be here and blessed to be where I am. For that I will make the most of it and do my very best. So bring IT!
MLB reports: What does it take at the end of the day to be a successful “Baseball Wife”? With so many demands on your time, how do you juggle everything?
Maggie McCracken: Well, first and foremost, I have to be a successful me before I can be a good wife, mother or friend. I try to always keep my priorities in line, to me that is very important. Yes, I enjoy hanging out and having fun. I enjoy traveling and I also enjoy just being at home. But certain things come first in my life and if those things are not taken care of me first, then I feel unbalanced and I don’t feel good about myself. It frustrates me to hear people always complain about the troubles in their life and all they have to really do is look at themselves and prioritize.
MLB reports: What advice would you give to a young lady dating a baseball player and aspiring to be a Baseball Wife?
Maggie McCracken: Most importantly, I would say NEVER ASPIRE TO BE A BASEBALL WIFE or any title wife for that matter! It’s so easy to lose yourself in a relationship, to lose who you are, what you want, where you’re going etc. That comes with any relationship. More so in one that requires the other to travel a lot. I lost myself for a short period while Q and I were dating. I always wanted to be whereever he was; it was fun and exciting and I was young and in love. When this happens, life has a funny or harsh way of reminding you that you’re an individual. Maintain your own goals and dreams, believe in them and in yourself. The rest will happen.
MLB reports: Tell us about your charity and son Isaiah. We would love to hear about his story.
Maggie McCracken: Isaiah was born at just 23.6 weeks viability is 24 weeks. At just 1.7 lbs and less than a 10% chance of surviving he did and he is thriving. He is a miracle and he is my Hero. I adore him and I worship the ground he walks on. He inspired me to create our Charity (Miracles Do Happen), benefiting the March of Dimes AZ Chapter. Each year we have an event that is open to the public. We hold a silent auction, raffle items from boutiques, restaurants, local businesses, etc. There is great food, drinks and entertainment. Local celebrities come out to support and it just keeps getting bigger and better every year. This year it will be on Saturday April 7th at The Rock Bar in Old Town Scottsdale.
MLB reports: Any final words to all the Maggie McCracken fans?
Maggie McCracken: Thank you!!!! Thank you to all of you who have been so supportive and who continue to support me, my family, my friends, and our causes. Thank you for being a part of my life my journey and Miracles Do Happen. Thank you for joining me in making a difference. If you see me out and about- please say hello. Give me ideas and feel free to express your opinions. I love hearing from you! Most of all, be you and stay true!
*** It has been a pleasure getting to know Maggie McCracken and we thank Maggie for her time and effort as part of being interviewed for this feature. You can follow Maggie on Twitter (@MagMcCracken) and tell her MLB reports sent you…she could follow you back! Also you can “like” her fanpage on Facebook. Maggie is a wonderful person and we simply can’t get enough of her! We look forward to Maggie returning to MLB reports in a recurring role…. Stay tuned!***
Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports: You can follow Jonathan on Twitter (@JHacohen)
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