Travis Chick, a right-handed pitcher from Tyler, Texas, was selected by the Marlins in the 14th round of the 2002 draft. He was acquired by the Padres in exchange for Ismael Valdez in July 2004. Chick was then acquired by the Reds, along with RHP Justin Germano,in exchange for Joe Randa in July 2005. He entered the 2006 season as a member of the Reds' Double-A affiliate in the Southern League, the Chattanooga Lookouts.
MiLB:You spent some time during the offseason volunteering at baseball camps in Tyler, Texas, in relief of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. What got you involved in that?
Travis Chick:Me and (my agent) Rob Ellis always did camps since I was signed. He kind of came to me and said if we were going to do another one, it could be for the Red Cross. I jumped right on to the idea.
MiLB: What was the best part of volunteering?
TC: Just seeing the kids having fun playing the game. Knowing that the money we raised was going to help out kids who didn't even have homes made the whole experience more sincere.
MiLB: Was there anything you wish you could've changed during your volunteer time?
TC: Yeah, the weather. It was so hot, other than that, it was fun. It's something I'm used to living in Texas but, man, was it hot out there.
MiLB: When did you know you'd pursue a career in professional baseball?
TC: Growing up I knew I'd either be a pro baseball player or a doctor. My mom leaned toward me being a doctor, and my dad wanted me to play ball (laughs), but it wasn't until the end of my junior year in high school that I decided "Hey, baseball could be something here." It's funny because I got into the Texas A&M medical program and knew I'd be drafted out of high school. Both doors were open but this one's just so much more fun."
MiLB: How does it feel knowing you could work your hardest and never make it to the Major Leagues?
TC: It's a tough thing to know you could give so much and never get to the ultimate level of the Majors. I put it into God's hands -- if I make it, I make it. If I don't, I don't. There's not a whole lot you can do but not think about the fact all this hard work could be for nothing.
MiLB: Describe the moment you were drafted.
TC:We had some friends from my high school baseball team over. We had subscribed to that thing where you can see the draft ticker and keep track of it. I knew I'd be drafted but just not what round. I was told I'd go in the fifth round. Four rounds later, I got the call, it was official. All I could think was "Golly, it took long enough. You made me wait all day!"
MiLB: What's the biggest difference you noticed between Class A and Double-A?
TC: The hitters' approach. In Low-A, they'll swing at bad pitches, they're more aggressive. I could throw sliders down and away all day and get strikeouts. But in Double-A, guys wait for their pitches, they're more patient. Also more fans and better stadiums are a part of Double-A.
MiLB: What's the best baseball advice you've gotten and from whom?
TC: I've had so much, its hard to pick one thing out. Robert Ellis is always helping me with my pitching. Rick Sutcliffe helping me with my changeup last Spring Training with the Padres was great, too. It's just a lot of people doing a lot of things that's taught me so much.
MiLB: How do you deal with being in the public eye, dealing with media, getting attention from fans, etc.?
TC: You kind of have to embrace it. I'm shy around people I don't know so it's hard to go up and talk to someone I don't know. I do it, because it means a lot to fans. It's weird thinking people want to be a part of me because I hate being treated differently. I just want to be a regular guy that's more a silent leader.
MiLB: Born and raised in Texas, are you a self-proclaimed cowboy?
TC: Haha, no I'm no Homer Bailey. I own a pair of cowboy boots and a cowboy hat, but the first time I ever put on a pair of Wrangler jeans (laughs) was when I had to sing Toby Keith's "Who's Your Daddy," as part of a initiation thing at Padres Spring Training last year.
MiLB: What advice do you give to guys that are trying to make it into professional baseball?
TC: Just to stay focused and work hard. It's easy to get caught up in getting drafted and trying to impress scouts. The best thing to do is just go out and do the same thing it is you did to get those scouts there in the first place.
MiLB: What are your pet peeves?
TC: Bad drivers have to top the list. (Laughs) I hate bad drivers. Also, people who are late drive me crazy -- so be on time.
MiLB: Who are your biggest baseball and non-baseball influences? TC: For baseball it's guys like Roger Clemens, Nolan Ryan and Curt Schilling. Off the field, it's my father. He put in so much time, energy and money into getting me ready and turning me over to the draft.
MiLB: What pitcher would you be most flattered to be compared to?
TC: I've read somewhere they were calling me 'a young Curt Schilling,' that was amazing. I don't necessarily see it or understand it, but that's a big honor."
MiLB: What's the weirdest pre-game ritual you've seen or done yourself?
TC: Mine is I get to the field, listen to "For Whom the Bell Tolls" by Metallica, eat a protein shake and a banana, prey, and go out there. I can't have anything more otherwise my stomach just won't let me have a good game (laughs).
MiLB: What's the best part of being in the Minors?
TC: Playing the game. I'd rather be doing this than in school like my friends. Building a camaraderie off the field is special, too. I've been on three different teams, and I still talk to my friend from former teams all the time.
MiLB: What's the worst part about being in the Minors?
TC: The travel. The money -- or lack thereof. The long bus rides that get you home at like five in the morning aren't too fun either.
MiLB: What's the weirdest thing a fan has done for you?
TC: I was in Fort Wayne, and it was before I had baseball cards of my own. This guy found a picture of me and made this, sort of, makeshift baseball card out of the photo and some popsicle sticks.
MiLB: What's the coolest Minor League promotion you've seen?
TC: I was playing in Jamestown, and from the beginning of the season they announced that if someone hit a grand slam during our second-to-last home game, someone would win $10,000. What's so crazy is that was the only time a grand slam was hit that year and someone really did win that money. The sumo wrestling is cool, too, I also like the dizzy-bat races, those are especially fun when the drunk fans do them (laughs).
MiLB: What's your favorite ballpark, Minor League or Major League, to play in?
TC: Jacksonville was nice. West Michigan was cool, too, there's a lot of good ones and some bad ones out there. Yankee Stadium would pretty awesome. I grew up as a Babe Ruth fan so to pitch in the "House that Babe Built," would be awesome. Just awesome, there are no other words to describe that.
Sapna Pathak is a regular contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.