(The Chief, circa 2006. Photo by @misschatter.)
For as long as he can remember, Chad Cordero would wake up on a late January morning like this and start thinking about throwing a baseball. But the winter of 2012 has been like nothing Chad Cordero has ever experienced in his life. “Very weird” is how Cordero described it in a phone call on Monday. “This time of year I’d be thinking about getting ready for Spring Training, throwing bullpens, playing catch, trying to get in shape. It’s very different.”
Instead, the greatest closer in the (albeit brief) history of the Washington Nationals is enjoying life at home in California with his family and coaching high school baseball. And that’s exactly where he wants to be at the moment. Words can’t properly do justice to describe the hell Cordero has been through over the past year; he retired from professional baseball in June after attempting another comeback from shoulder surgery (don’t underestimate the impact of those 224 appearances with the Nationals from 2005-2008), mere months after the tragic loss of his infant daughter Tehya to SIDS. On his decision to retire last June, Cordero explains: “I needed time to clear my head after everything that happened with my daughter. I needed to step back and reassess. Once I found out my wife was pregnant again, I wanted to be there with her, with my family. I didn’t want to miss a day. I didn’t want to miss a minute.”
And who could blame him? Cordero and his wife Jamie welcomed a son, Cooper, into the world on January 3.
To Washington DC baseball fans, the man known best as “The Chief” remains one of the most beloved of the original 2005 Nats; and he’ll be returning to the Washington DC area this summer, participating in Bethesda Big Train’s Celebrity Baseball camp from July 16 to July 20 at Cabin John Park in Bethesda, Maryland. More information about the camp is available on the Big Train website.
We had a chance to speak with Cordero by phone on Monday about his involvement in the camp, and what he’s been doing these days.
On retiring from baseball last June, and how different this winter has been from previous winters in his life:
“It’s very weird. This time of year I’d be thinking about getting ready for Spring Training, throwing bullpens, playing catch, trying to get in shape. It’s very different. I still think about getting back in eventually. There’s still a chance. Maybe next year. But (last June) I needed time to clear my head after everything that happened with my daughter. I needed to step back and reassess. Once I found out my wife was pregnant again, I wanted to be there with her, with my family. I didn’t want to miss a day. I didn’t want to miss a minute.”
Cordero is currently an assistant baseball coach at Santa Margarita High School in California. We asked him about that…
“A buddy of mine I played with at Cal State Fullerton (David Bacani) is head coach. Once he found out I was coming home last summer he asked if I wanted to coach. And I love it. I’m doing a little bit of everything – I’m the first base coach. Any chance I have to give back, to help out these kids…it’s a lot of fun. I enjoy it. In a lot of ways it’s more tiring than playing! It’s very rewarding, seeing these kids learn and make progress.”
...so is coaching something he could see himself doing long term?
“Yes, I don’t ever want to be out of baseball for good. If I can get back by coaching -- whether at high school, college, pro – any level would (appeal) to me. Anything. It’s a lot of fun.”
On how and why he got involved with a DC-area baseball camp, and what his level of involvement will be:
“My friend Andrew asked if I’d be interested, and I jumped at the chance. Any chance I have to get back to DC – that city and all the fans there mean so much to me. I jumped at the chance. I saw it as an opportunity to get back to the DC area and give back. I’ll be there the whole time, helping out with everything. I love doing this kind of thing.”
Couldn’t help but notice Cordero joined Twitter recently…(follow him at @ChadCordero32)
“I was reluctant to get a Twitter account but I finally gave in.”
Cordero was at former teammate Joel Hanrahan's wedding a few weeks ago in Texas, at the same hotel where Scott Boras held his sham of a top-secret meeting with Prince Fielder and the Rangers. Did Chief see Prince?
“Nah, heard rumors that he was there. Just rumors. Didn’t see him.”
Any other thoughts on his upcoming return to the DC area this summer?
“Can’t wait. I’m really looking forward to it. I want to just go to a game! Be a fan, sit in the stands, eat a hotdog! My wife and I love DC. Can’t wait to get back!”
---Attention Washington Nationals PR/Marketing staff: The Nats are at home July 17-19 against the Mets, and play the Braves on the 20th. How about a "Hail to the Chief" night for one of those games at Nationals Park? Chief throws out the first pitch,flat-brimmed cap give away for the kids? Come on, this is a no-brainer!