Standing in the batters box at 6'4", 225 pounds, Dean Green may look like your prototypical power guy. However, it has been his high batting average and consistent approach at the plate that has earned Green a selection to the New York-Penn League All-Star Game in his first professional season. An eleventh-round draft pick out of Barry University, he has gone through some tough times since getting the big call, but has used the emotions to fuel him on the field. I had a chance to catch up with Green, an Oklahoma native, and discuss everything from his real name, Roger, to his connection with Detroit Tigers Hall of Famer and Mr. Tiger himself Al Kaline.
Justin Sheinis: Dean, you were recently named to this year's All-Star team. First off, how exciting is that for you to be named an All-Star in your first professional season?
Dean Green: It's a privilege. Going out there and working hard everyday and seeing the benefits pay off on me. It's an honor to go out and represent the Connecticut tigers, me and Brennan Smith. I'm just looking forward to it.
JS: The numbers that you have been putting up this year are pretty incredible: hitting over .350, 2nd in the league in batting. What has been going right for you here in your first professional season?
DG: A lot of things have been going right for me. I'm putting the ball in play and it's just happening to find the hole. Just going out there, trying to do the best for the team every day and it's working out for us.
JS: Growing up in Oklahoma, who were some of your role models to get yourself in starting to play baseball?
DG: My dad and grandpa, most definitely. My family's always been supportive and my dad played at the University of Tulsa as a centerfielder. He's always pushed me and my little brother to be the best. It's just one of those things. It's a family tradition I guess.
JS: When you graduated High School, you first started off your college ball at Oklahoma State. How cool was that for you to stay in your home state, stay close to home and have the ability to play a couple of years collegiately for a great team in Oklahoma State?
DG: It was a good experience. Being close to home, parents and everybody could come watch me play. Being the hometown kid all my friends could come to the ballpark and watch me perform. It was a great honor. My time in Stillwater was good and it was enjoyable.
JS: You transferred to Barry University in South Florida and played there in your senior season. Talk about that final year at Barry. The numbers speak for themselves: .400 batting average, 22 2B's, 19 HR's, 77 RBI in only 57 games.
DG: It was a privilege to play at Barry under Head Coach Mark Pavao and his assistants. They all helped me out tremendously just working on my approach and the way I approached the game mentally and physically. They taught me things that I knew, but hadn't really learned yet. Just little things like where to be positioned in the box or how to anticipate what pitch is coming, different things like that. Being down in Miami didn't hurt either. The group of guys that I was with, it was just a great experience overall.
JS: Detroit Tigers Hall of Famer Al Kaline said that he played a monumental part and was a big reason why you are here in the Tigers' organization. He had a chance to see you play when you were at Barry University against his grandson, Colin, now one of your teammates. He said that from many of the players that he had seen collegiately that you were one of the most impressive he had seen. How does that make you feel coming from a legend like that?
DG: I had heard from the scout that drafted me, Rolando Casanova, he had told me that Mr. Kaline was in the draft room on the day that I was drafted and that he was the big reason why I was taken. I found that to be a great honor. I mean that's a Hall of Famer saying that and he's helping me out. That means worlds to me. I did get to play in front of him, which helped me out quite a bit. But I didn't do anything different than what I do every day: just go out and perform and try my hardest.
JS: In your time at Oklahoma State you were a three-time Academic All-Big 12, you were on the Dean's List three times at Oklahoma State. Do you pride yourself in doing well in the classroom along with excelling on the field?
DG: My mom would kill me if I didn't (Green laughed). She's a school teacher back home and that was instilled in me since I was little that I have to make the grades. That was a big thing especially at Oklahoma State. I've had a couple of people in my family graduate from college, but not many. The main thing for me was to do well in school, as well as do well athletically too.
JS: When you found out you were drafted in the 11th round, 347th overall by the Detroit Tigers what was first thing that went through your head and what were the emotions like on that day?
DG: The first thing that went through my head was I have to call my grandpa and my dad. It was a very emotional day to say the least. About a week after that my grandpa passed away, so it meant even more to him.
JS: With how you are excelling on the field, how good does that make you feel inside knowing that he's looking down on you and giving you all the praise that he could?
DG: I'm playing for him. That's really all I can do.
JS: What is your main goal playing the game of baseball?
DG: Have fun. Finish strong and just play the way I've been taught. Growing up I wasn't given anything easily. I've had to earn everything that I got. Baseball's no different. I have to go out there and earn it everyday. Just earning a living (Dean laughs).
JS: You're real name is Rodger, but most people call you Dean now, which is your middle name. How often did you get the name Rodger tossed around when you were younger?
DG: I've been called Rodger by so many people, but I don't go by it obviously. Really, the only time I've been called Rodger Dean is when I'm in trouble by my mom or dad. Dean's just a middle name that I've always gone by and it rhymes so it sounds better obviously. It's been like that since I've been little, everyone's always mixed in up.
JS: What about "Mean" Dean Green? I know that I've used that nickname in the broadcast booth many times this season, have you heard that one a lot?
DG: I hear that quite often, especially on the road. You hear all kinds of razzing from the other crowds. It's always fun, because I look forward to hearing what they have to say.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.