FameBooking had the opportunity to interview FameBooking Boston Celebrity Mike Stenhouse, former Major League Baseball 1st round pick and Harvard graduate. If you think you know everything there is to know about this FameBooking Boston celebrity, this interview may surprise you.
Growing up, were you the coolest kid on the block - having a dad with Major League Baseball experience?
No, not at all. Like our WWII heroes, my dad didn’t talk about his big-league experience all that much, nor did I. We had a great bunch of cool kids on our block who endlessly played whiffle-ball and basketball on makeshift fields and courts, when we weren’t playing hardball at the nearby sandlot.
Did you feel pressure to make it to the MLB because of your dad?
My dad, nor anyone else, never put any pressure on me. Because of his experience I was better coached and motivated so as to be able to achieve my own personal goals.
Strong in both academics and athletics, did you focus more time on books or baseball?
I was also an All-State basketball player, so I placed equal emphasis on sports and school, but always secondary to family. There wasn’t much time left over for anything else, and, admittedly, I went away to college quite naïve about girls, booze, and other social activities.
You turned down some top baseball colleges to attend Harvard, where economics was your major. Had you considered Harvard or economics from an early age?
I had always been a bit of a math whiz, and listed that as my official major in my freshman year at Harvard, only to switch to economics later on. Until my junior year I never envisioned myself attending any Ivy League college, never mind what to major in. Before then, I expected I would attend a university with a great “baseball” program. At Harvard I got both the baseball and the academics … great deal!
You were drafted in the first round of the 1979 draft by the Oakland Athletics, but turned down their offer to go back to school and play another year. Were you concerned about getting injured or having a season that dropped your draft stock?
Not at all. I turned down the A’s because their owner, the infamous Charlie Finley, negotiated with me in bad faith. As it turned out, I got a much better deal 6 months later with Expos … even though signing with the A’s, most likely, would have led to a quicker path for the Major Leagues.
Do you remember the first time you were asked for an autograph?
Yes. In 1977, as a freshman playing for Harvard, I was second in the nation in Division-1 batting average and was named to the College All-America team. At the luncheon at the College World Series in Omaha, a young son of one of the attendees asked me to autograph the event program. I remember being taken aback somewhat. Even for a non-star like me, I must have gone on to sign tens of thousands of items over my playing and broadcasting career. I still get hundreds of cards each year in the mail to sign and send back.
Tell us about StenStats - what was it like in the early days of advanced baseball statistics?
Because of my math background, I developed StenStats as a more comprehensive way to evaluate baseball performance. In many ways, StenStats was the fore-runner to “Money Ball,” as I emphasized certain stats in a similar way as Money Ball.
I never really got StenStats off the ground. Incredibly, ESPN expressed strong interest in the late 1990’s, but they told me that my web-based strategy was flawed, because they felt the Internet would be a short-lived fad.
I still today believe that StenStats is the best way to evaluate a hitter or pitcher.
What are your favorite statistical measurements for judging a player?
This is why I developed StenStats. For a hitter, slugging percentage and the ratio of strikeouts and walks per at bat are the most telling statistics. For a pitcher, it’s the inverse … how much slugging percentage, walks, and strikeouts allowed.
Why did you go the broadcasting route, rather than being a coach or front office?
Upon my retirement, I had many offers to coach or begin a front-office professional baseball career. But as a strong believer in a strong and stable family, I did not want to have such an itinerant career … moving my family continually around the country … as is the norm in pro baseball. My part-time broadcasting career was a complete accident, as an opportunity in Rhode Island opened up the year after I retired as a player. However, once that became too busy—to the point where I started missing my sons’ Little League games—I gave it up.
Can you tell us about what you have been up to lately?
For the past eight years I have been the leading “conservative” voice in the Ocean State, as the founder and CEO of a free-market public policy think tank. We believe in civil, public debates, and it is our mission to represent the conservative point of view when it comes to the major issues facing Rhode Island. I am regularly interviewed by multiple media outlets, and I often speak to state and local political groups and sports organizations.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
The great advice I received, originally intended for baseball, also can be applied to life. It went something like this … there will always be people trying to coach you or influence your life. If you know who you are, always listen respectfully and consider their advice honestly, but in the end it’s your life … ignore what doesn’t fit for you and adhere only to that which feels right.
What’s the best piece of advice you have for someone?
The best advice I can give is to think about what you stand for, what your core values are … and then never, ever compromise them no matter what circumstances you are presented with. By living a life with as much honesty and integrity as you can will mean you will never second-guess yourself as you grow older … something people my age increasingly think about.
Is there something you could tell us, such as a talent or interest or incident, that most people don’t know?
I really enjoyed playing the trumpet, which I took up in elementary school. I became a member of my junior high and high school bands, and then, much to the delight of my friends who busted me continually for it … I became the drum major of my Cranston High School East marching band. Yes, I was the dork out front on the football field or at parades, with the high, fluffy hat, twirling the baton, and high-stepping it. My guy friends joked about it, but the chicks really dug it … LOL.