In 2015, First We Feast and Complex Media transcended the interview format with the creation of the YouTube series Hot Ones. On each episode, released once per week, host Sean Evans interviews celebrities as they eat increasingly hotter chicken wings. Actor Zac Efron was today’s guest and he happened to offer up a rather heartwarming story about manager Dusty Baker, the current manager of the Astros.
Evans set up his question, saying, “So I’m fascinated by your signed baseball collection which isn’t just something that you spent millions of dollars on. It’s something that dates back to you being a little kid chasing down home run balls at Giants games.” He asked Efron, “Do you have a favorite story or a baseball that, to you, is like a crown jewel in the collection?”
Efron promptly responded, “Dusty Baker, the coach of the Giants at the time. He drove by and he was on a motorcycle so he didn’t have a window he could roll up. He saw there was a couple people waiting for him. I ran up with a baseball. I had a blue pen and the sweet spot of a brand new ball and I showed it to him. And Dusty was like, ‘Aw, I can’t right now, I got to go to church.’ And that just means, usually, like, ‘I don’t have time,’ right? He’s like, “I’ll be back in 30 minutes.’ He left and I thought I was never going to see him again. 45 minutes later, the motorcycle came roaring in and I was like, ‘No way!’ He literally pointed right at me and was like, ‘Come over here.’ I walked over. He’s like, ‘You still got that ball?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, thank you sir.’ I handed it to him and he signed it. That one meant a lot to me just because Dusty Baker doubled back from church.”
Evans followed up with another baseball-related question pertaining to Efron’s role in the movie Charlie St. Cloud. In preparation for the role, which involves throwing some baseballs, Efron worked with former pitcher and pitching coach Roger McDowell. Evans asked Efron if he picked up anything interesting working along side McDowell. Efron mentioned that he grew up playing baseball, so he was ahead of where some other actors might have been in a baseball role. Efron deflected the rest of the question, but it was interesting that two of the 10 questions on the show happened to be baseball-related. The entire interview is fun and interesting. Give it a watch:
The Baker anecdote starts around the 6:20 mark.
No one should be surprised to hear a heartwarming story involving Baker. He has been one of baseball’s good guys for decades. Even the beleaguered Astros saw this after A.J. Hinch was suspended for his role in the club’s cheating scandal. Baker was seen as someone who could help the organization weather the storm and put the team back in the public’s good graces.